Tag Archives: summer

2019 Prospect Sierra Summer Stories


Abby Guinn

My husband Jon, daughter Shelby, and I took a car camping trip up the California coast to Oregon this summer. Along the way, we stopped at Jug Handle Beach and camped at the Jug Handle Creek Farm. Both the beach and the farm were amazing spots – highly recommended from the Guinn-Stewart family!





Amy Millikan

My summer was filled with some productive work at Avis and some trips to Montana and the east coast. In August, we took our oldest child off to college. He seems fine. We are still recovering. 🙂




Amy Sullivan

A highlight for my family this summer was our Northern California road trip. We went to Lassen Volcanic National Park for the first time (and it won’t be the last since we all fell in love with it) and the Mount Shasta area. Wonderful hiking, s’mores by the campfire, sledding (!!) on Lassen Peak, climbing on rocks behind waterfalls, kayaking on Lake Siskiyou, and relaxing in some of the most beautiful places we’ve seen.

The other highlight for us was getting Max ready for kindergarten! He is so excited to be at Prospect Sierra, and we feel beyond fortunate to have him here.


Annie Fujimoto

I spent the summer with my new family of four! Me, my husband Chris, Dylan, and Vida went to Monterey together and we also spent a week in San Diego. Other than that, we hung out in Berkeley, enjoying our new baby Vida who is now three months old!






Audie Adage

This summer we did a little bit of everything. We had some late nights and lots of lazy mornings. We camped and spent some time on Eel river with friends. Jones and I joined my parents for a week in Mexico. He can give his review of all of the local chicken tacos and virgin margaritas he tried. We also took our annual trip to North Carolina to spend time with my in-laws. Whenever we are there, we are sure to see Jacqueline, our former PE teacher, and her son, Reilly. What a sweet and busy summer.


Beth Lewis

Our summer seemed to revolve around hiking to waterfalls! We went from a snowy summer hike to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park to a very long and hot hike to the top of Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls in Yosemite National Park. It was a great way to spend more time with our boys, who are now 16 and entering their Junior year of high school!

Chaitali Thakar

One weekend prior to my West Coast move this summer, after sifting through boxes and finding myself ready to see something more than cardboard, I decided to take a day to re-explore Boston and do a few things that had lingered on the postponed list. The other hope I had in mind was to walk and/or ride all the four colors of the “T” the local train system in one day. I started in “Eastie,” an area close to the Logan airport, sitting on a patch of green overlooking a segment of the Charles, directly across the “new Boston skyline,” filled with buildings that were still shiny and new from recent construction as well as classic brownstones. Within a matter of an hour, the sun shone and the rain fell, typical of fast changing weather patterns of New England. I walked around, squinting every so often into the sky to identify which airline was flying above. A stop at a heladeria completed the journey, after which I hopped on to the Blue Line of the “T”, mostly for the fact that I liked that it had a station called Wonderland. Perhaps the highlight of that day, though, was a stopover to Wally’s Cafe Jazz Club, a cozy music venue where local Berklee College of Music students and other artists played. It had been on my to-visit list since 2008, and I wasn’t about to pass up a chance to see it! I smush-walked through the crowd, making my way to the front, and for a good couple hours, enjoyed the quartet that was featured that evening. I couldn’t think of a better way to end a full day of reacquainting this city which I had called home for 11 years. Much like the piece they played that night, Boston life had been a mix of eclectic and improvised days of living and yet, it had eventually all come together for a pretty pleasant tune. I can’t say I won’t miss it, but I do hope to find some new songs and sidewalks to explore here in the Bay Area.

Cindy Cheong

Getting a photo of the three of us is rare since my husband is always the person behind the camera! Even more rare is that as a family, we finally got to spend a little time together when we took a quick trip to Vancouver, BC Canada in June to watch Tyler’s dragon boat team – The East Bay Rough Riders – compete in the Concord Pacific Dragon Boat Festival. We ate the most amazing food and had a wonderful time hanging out with great friends!

Tyler and I also spent five days in Columbus, Ohio for the Fencing Summer Nationals and July Challenge for his “final” competition as he has decided to leave the sport after 9 years. The adjustment to life without fencing has been bittersweet (for me), but the reward of having more time and a happier child is priceless!

In July, I went to Arizona for my cousin’s 70th birthday and took a side trip – “Girls Trip” – with my sister and cousin. We did some hiking, visited the Lava River Caves in Flagstaff, and visited the South Rim of the beautiful Grand Canyon.

I feel so fortunate and lucky to have these beautiful treasures around me – family, friends, and nature. It was a great summer!

David Allen

This was a busy summer for me! I moved into a new home, helped run a summer camp at Avis, and participated in a few really great professional development workshops. Fortunately, my partner and I found time to get away around July 4th for an epic road trip to and from Seattle. We hit some great state and national parks along the way and even got to visit with Aaron (former 5th grade math/science teacher) at his new place in Bend, Oregon. There were many great places and moments (feel free to ask me about them!), but if I had to pick one highlight to feature it would definitely be the northern Oregon coast near Astoria. Here is a picture I took early one misty morning on Crescent Beach.


David Gould

This summer, I tried to catch a nap wherever I could, but mostly stayed busy with various projects and spending quality time with my wife and kids. I also had a few occasions to travel, seeing relatives and old pals around the country. A few highlights include visiting the National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C.) splashing around in the North Folk of Long Island (NY), driving/ferrying around the San Juan Islands (WA), and hiking in Mount Diablo (CA).


Emily Burns

This summer was a time for rest and relaxation as I prepared to start my new position here at Prospect Sierra. I spent a lot of time cooking new recipes and spending quality time with my husband and my cat. I made a quick trip to Michigan for a wonderful family wedding, but mostly we stayed put. The Bay Area is such a great place to have a staycation!





Evan Duffy-Ledbetter

For most of the summer, I worked at a restaurant that was located right on Highway 1 overlooking the ocean. It was fantastic! I was in charge of the music that we played, which was a small perk that always made my day. Then I traveled down the coast to Cayucos to visit my aunt where we ate fish tacos, walked on the beach, and saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. Although I am a little sad that summer has ended, I am very much looking forward to the start of the school year!


Janis Chun

This summer my family and I went on several trips along the West Coast and spent quality time visiting friends and family. Our favorite adventure was a road trip to Las Vegas where we passed through Ridgecrest. Our friends took us to a horse and burro sanctuary where we fed the animals 25 lbs of carrots!  We were currently reading What is a Reptile? and we found a horned toad in the desert! Just like in the book! Can you see the lizard camouflaged in the sand just outside of Grant’s shadow? We have since gone on many lizard hunts and really enjoy observing animals in their natural habitat.

Jeanne Wong

This summer my family had the opportunity to learn more about my mom’s history. She was incarcerated in Japanese internment camps during WWII and survived a tidal wave. We always heard about these stories growing up, but this summer we engaged in this history in new ways. We found her name on a wall at the exhibit in the Presidio. We found her name on an exhibit in Honolulu. I took my mom to the candlelight vigil for Lights for Liberty. And my favorite, while vacationing in Hawaii we visited Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. There, we learned that at the Kilauea Military Camp in the National Park they interned Japanese from Hilo. The park ranger had plaques made to commemorate the Japanese that were interned there so that we would never forget. To our surprise, we found a sketch of my grandfather on one of the plaques. We go to Hawaii every summer to visit family but this summer was special as we heard story after story and stayed curious to learn. May we never forget!


Jesse Feldman

In July my family and I hitched a trailer to our car and set out for a month-long road trip through California, Oregon, and Washington. We had unique adventures at each spot along the way, including lots of camping, hiking, and paddling. We even did some sandboarding on the Oregon Dunes! The delicious and creative food and drink we found was a perfect complement to all of the outdoor activities. One of our stops was in Bend, Oregon where we checked up on Aaron Moorhead and his family. They are doing great and send their greetings to the PS community.


Jessica Boyles

Our family enjoyed plenty of mountain time in Tahoe and Steamboat, Colorado. This is a photo of my son and me on the hike to Long Lake near Truckee, CA.




Jessica Walker

This summer was a joy! We took our first family camping trip to Fern Canyon about six hours north of the Bay Area. Although our family got very little sleep, we loved our first camping adventure and can’t wait to do more. I also had the pleasure and privilege of becoming an aunt for the first time! In order to properly welcome my nephew to the family, my husband and two children and I piled into our Nissan and drove nine hours to Las Vegas, Nevada to meet the little guy. It was a wonderful experience! I also had time to explore old and new hobbies such as raising monarch butterflies after I capture their eggs on the milkweed in my yard, and learning to brew homemade beer! It was a summer to remember.


Maddie Hogan

We had never visited Italy because of our reservations about summer crowds, but this summer we finally decided to make the trip. Italy did not disappoint. Rome, Florence, Venice, the villages of the Tuscan hillsides, and the Dolomites were everything that our friends had been raving about for years. Of course, we paid special attention to music, and a Verdi opera in the ancient Roman amphitheater in Verona was a highlight. We began our trip in Munich and traveled by car through the scenic countrysides of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Switzerland. The incredible beauty of Plitvice National Park in Croatia, with its thousands of waterfalls, took our breath away.

Nathan Tanaka

This summer I spent time with my new baby son, Pax. We walked to the farmer’s market to hear live music and explore fresh produce. Other days, we walked to the park to enjoy Pax’s favorite activity, riding the swing! Towards the end of the summer, Pax learned how to roll which is now his favorite of way moving about the house. When not playing with Pax, I spent time settling into my new job as Middle School Division Head! The work has been challenging, fulfilling, and exciting. One work highlight was our Middle School Team Leader Retreat in Guerneville. We spent time planning for the year, bonding as a team, and swimming in the Russian River.


Rachel Monzon

I had so much fun teaching 6th grade science. It was my first time working with older children and to be honest I was terrified they would eat me alive. My time with them was just like summer always is, it went by in a flash but filled with memories to fill my heart. The best compliment that I received was, “Miss Rachel, we need more teachers like you.” I truly owe this compliment to Prospect Sierra and Miss Robin, because of the strong mentoring I’ve received these past two years. I couldn’t have done it without PS.

Remi Rubel

I loved teaching Remily Art Camp at Tapscott this summer. Emily and I ran four sessions of camp at the beginning and end of summer break. Our artists made new friends and were in full-on creative mode while they produced awesome, unique, and gorgeous works of art in a relaxed and fun environment. It was fabulous. Sandwiched between camps, I took long walks with my 13 year old girl dog, Marley, laughed a ton watching Brooklyn 99, ate relaxing meals with good friends and family, and slept as late as I possibly could.

Travel wise, I saw brilliant plays at the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my mom and sister, (catch the backstage tour if you ever go), and spent a glorious week at Quyle Kiln in Murphys, California where I breathed life into some art of my own. After not throwing on the wheel for at least 25 years, I was excited to get back to it, and amazed myself by spinning out 10 large dinner plates, a gift for my husband to celebrate our 20th anniversary this month.

Sandi Tanaka

I spent my summer days (and nights!) with my sweet baby, Pax who is now 7 months old. We took long walks around the neighborhood, listened to the same Japanese children’s music on repeat, did lots of mama and baby yoga, and even worked in the classroom together! My most favorite memory from the summer though was our family glamping trip in Mendocino.



Sophia Genone

I opted for slower family living this summer and enjoyed time with my two children (ages 5 and 8). We swam, biked, read, camped, and played with friends along the beaches of the Oregon coast. We gardened, crafted, and hiked between trips to see family in San Diego and Martha’s Vineyard, and then delighted in simply being home.

Trevor Smith

I spent a good part of the summer playing music with toddlers in preschools and other programs. Between classes I wrote some music and got up to Marin for bike rides as much as possible. I also camped a couple of times outside of Nevada City and up near Tahoe, and celebrated my little niece’s third birthday with her!

Trini Huerta

This year our entire family of 22 went to my hometown Teocaltiche Jalisco, Mexico to celebrate our parents 50th anniversary. We were also able to see family that I haven’t seen in 15 years! They were also able to meet my boyfriend and daughter for the first time. Another big trip we did was to visit my boyfriend’s grandparents who he had not seen in 20 years. It was a great reunion trip!


Whendy Costa

This summer my aunt and I finished our third and final section of the JMT (John Muir Trail), including summiting Mount Whitney! Coming from a year-round program, I wasn’t able to take long periods of time off to do the whole trail in one go, so we split the trail up into three. I can’t wait to see what kind of hikes I will be able to accomplish with summers off now! After finishing the JMT we spent a few days exploring both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, adding two more to the list of National Parks visited! Afterward I went on a solo camping trip to Yosemite for a couple of days to bring it full circle. While there I was fortunate enough to see Lee Stetson, a theatrical performer who portrays John Muir. It was amazing! For Labor Day weekend I will return to Yosemite with my husband to see another portrayal I have been waiting a long time to see – Shelton Johnson – a Yosemite Park Ranger who reenacts the experiences of the Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed in Yosemite in the late 1800s. Finishing the JMT and having books signed by both of these gentlemen put this summer at the top of my list!



Abby’s Corner: Summer Learning Fun

Summertime Fun

Happy summer to you all! Hopefully, you have already found some ways to relax. The heat wave that hit El Cerrito was an intense way to start our summer, and my hope is that you all were near a pool or beach on those 100 degree days.

Summer work is already underway at Tapscott and at our new Gatto/TK campus. Teachers have cleaned up and gone home, and some of our new faces are already here and getting a lay of the land, ordering materials, and thinking about how to support kids next year. It happens quickly, and I am getting excited to welcome our transitional kindergarteners to Prospect Sierra in late August.

In the meantime, if you are like me you have made a list of summer reading, eating, and relaxing that must be done! Wishing you a fabulous summer filled with joyful moments.

Worth Remembering: The “Summer Slide” is Real

While summer is super fun, it’s also a time that kids can lose some of the gains they made this past year in both reading and math, also known as the summer slide. Our approach as a school is to encourage parents to find ways that are fun and engaging for your child, and to keep them reading regularly as well as working their math brains this summer. Whatever way works for your child and your family, the goal is to promote lifelong reading and application of math skills in real life! When they buy ice cream, make them calculate the total or figure out how much change they will get back. When there is downtime for the family, have a family reading time for 20-30 minutes. There are lots of ways to “disguise the learning” so kids are still flexing those muscles!

The Tapscott Reading Challenge: We will once again attempt to read 400,000 minutes this summer! I encourage you to carve out some family reading time, and read some great books yourself or with your child this summer! Ideally, kids should be looking at books, listening to stories read aloud to them, or independently reading for 20-30 minutes every day this summer.

Practicing math skills during the summer:  This article from the Harvard School of Education highlights that, on average, kids lose 2.6 months of math learning over the summer. Below you’ll find the article’s suggestions for ways to integrate math into summer activities.

  • Highlight the math in everyday activities. When shopping, help kids calculate change or discounts. When watching a baseball game, talk about what players’ statistics mean. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe, and assist kids in figuring out the new proportions.
  • Read short math stories together. Studies have shown that reading math-focused stories to children, such as Bedtime Math books or the Family Math series, can help boost math scores in school.
  • Play math games. Games like Yahtzee, Racko, Blokus, Monopoly, and Set all rely on skills necessary for math, such as counting, categorizing, and building. Even playing with blocks and assembling jigsaw puzzles can help kids learn spatial skills and recognize patterns.
  • Find small ways to practice math at home. While worksheets alone won’t solve the summer math slump, small amounts of practice with basic formulas can help. Problem-of-the-day math calendars are a great way to practice basic math problems on a small scale. Parents can also find resources on Investigations about what types of mathematical procedures they should be practicing with their children.

Additional resources for math at home:

  • The founder of Bedtime Math, Laura Overdeck, describes how and why this series of daily math problems works as a family engagement tool in mathematics.
  • YouCubed resources for parents and apps/games/problems for students
  • YouCubed online course for students. This self-paced course is designed for any learner of math and anyone who wants to improve their relationship with math. The ideas should be understandable by students of all levels of mathematics. Parents who have children under age 13 and who think their children would benefit from some of the course materials should register themselves (i.e., parent’s name, email, username) for the course. The parent may then choose to share course materials with their child at their own discretion.

Worth Reading

Celebrate Pride this month with two great books. I love both of these! Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag is great for upper elementary students and provides some understanding of the flag as well as the local changemaker Harvey Milk. This Day in June is a great picture book, appropriate for all ages, and provides some background information on different aspects of this month’s SF Pride Parade.