The WASC Report: A Little Light Reading

For the past 18 months, a group of teachers, administrators, students, and parents have been working together to learn all about Palo Alto High School as a part of the WASC self-study process.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a 501(c)(3) organization, is recognized as one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States.

The self-study process gives the school a chance to learn more about the progress the school community has made since the previous WASC cycle and, after a close look at where we are today, determine our goals for the next few years. This involves a large amount of data, discussion, and hard work. As a parent, I have to say, we probably had the easiest jobs (except for the data crunchers who helped the staff data specialists, Susan Bailey and Karen French Neuman). Emily Garrison has led the process with a smile as our WASC Self-Study Coordinator, getting teachers and administrators through all the work they needed to do. As a result, the “Palo Alto High School WASC Self-Study 2014-2015″ is officially finished.  I encourage you to look through the report to learn more about Paly.

WASC Self-Study Report 2014-15

In case you don’t have time for the full 516 pages, the goals are:

#1: Systems alignment for greater consistency around learning outcomes to reduce undue stress.                                                                               – Strategy #1: Aligning Student Learning Outcomes                                        – Strategy #2: Data:  Creating and Leading Cultures of Inquiry

#2: Research-based intructional practices that increase student engagement for ALL students                                                                                        – Strategy #1: Ongoing Professional Learning (PL) “Paly as a Learning System”

#3: Innovative school culture promoting global competencies, creativity and empathy                                                                                                      – Strategy #1: A Shared Vision of Our Future                                                       – Strategy #2: Global Competencies and Increasing Student “Choice and Voice”

You can find more details about the goals and school action plan at the following links:

Summary of WASC Goals

Three Year Action Plan

Six Year Action Plan

The next step is the visit from the WASC team. They will arrive on Sunday, March 1 and, beginning with a reception from 3:30-4:15, they will spend four days immersing themselves in all things Paly. They have a full agenda of meetings with different groups and a lot of pages to get through in four days! On Wednesday, March 4th from 3:30 to 4:00, they will present their findings in the MAC atrium.

Thank you to the entire WASC team for your hard work and dedication to keeping Paly moving forward for ALL students.

– Linda van Gelder, Paly PTSA President

Speak! Feel! Be! at ACS

As many of you know, Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) provides students with on-site counseling, in addition to other after-school programs. Paly PTSA is happy to support this valuable service for our community.

Our ACS site director, Merritt Sheridan, has written an insightful blog post entitled, “The Poison of Perfectionism.” I encourage you to read it. You can find the blog at:

In addition, ACS is offering asupport group starting February 14th at their Palo Alto Outpatient Clinic – “Speak! Feel! Be!” The group will be led by 2 ACS therapists and is a group where youth & parents can feel and speak freely in a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment.

The first 4 weeks will be for youth to express their feelings of grief, anxiety, anger and ground themselves through stressful times.

The second 4 weeks will be for parents to find their way through the misconceptions, anxiety, and helplessness of the situations facing our youth.

Saturdays 10am-11:30am for 8 weeks, starting 2/14/15. There is a $10 per group session per person (or per couple). Scholarships available.  ACS Outpatient Clinic – 1717 Embarcadero Rd., Suite 4000 – Palo Alto, CA 94303.

Speak! Feel! Be!-1

If parents are interested in meeting for a discussion on this topic at Paly, please contact me. We are very interested in hearing from any families who feel they could use more support and will plan an event accordingly.

Take care,
Linda van Gelder                                                                                                          Paly PTSA President

January 29 – PTSA General Association Meeting and Parent/Student Education

Time and Stress: Managing Both for Well-being A Presentation -Workshop for Parents AND Students

“If time were to take on human form, would she be your taskmaster or freedom fighter?” – Richie Norton

Do you crave more hours in a day? Constantly feel the pressure of time on your back like a massive weight? Many of us walk around feeling like time martyrs, rather than time managers. While the “management” of time may be a misnomer, we do have choice and power regarding our use of this most valuable commodity.

Join us as we host Ali Zidel Meyers, MSW, for a dynamic presentation on Time Management and Stress Reduction. Ali will address specific strategies that parents and students can use to build time awareness, mindfulness, agency and efficacy into our time use practice. She will provide practical time management tools, exercises, and resources for positive habit-building and stress reduction. Finally, Ali will speak to modern misconceptions connected to time use and stress, such as multi-tasking, conditional happiness, and saying yes to everything.


Where: Palo Alto High School, Media Arts Center

When: Thursday, January 29, 2015 from 7-9pm (We will begin with a short PTSA meeting.)

Speaker Bio:

Ali Zidel Meyers earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and her Masters in Social work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work (Washington University in St. Louis). She has worked with students with a wide range of learning strengths and challenges in classroom and individual settings for over 15 years. Ali brings extensive experience in teaching time management, study, and organizational skills to students, from elementary to high school levels and beyond. With her husband Adam she owns Meyers Learning Center, which specializes in these skills and also offers subject- specific support to students in all grade levels. Ali is the mother of two children and lives in Silicon Valley. For more information about her work, visit


New PTSA Website

Paly PTSA is excited to debut our NEW website! Our new site should have all of the information that was on our old site, but it looks modern and is much easier to update.

We would like to thank Bill Cortright, PTA Council co-VP Communicationsfor creating the website and training us on how to use it! I would also like to thank Calisa Cole, Paly co-VP Communications, for making this happen.


November Developmental Asset of the Month: Positive Cultural Identity

November has been designated as the month to focus on the Developmental Asset of Positive Cultural Identity…

Asset #41: Young people feel comfortable with and proud of their identity, including but not limited to disabilities, ethnicity, faith/religion, family status, gender, language, and sexual orientation.

The Importance of Positive Positive Cultural Identity.

It is important for youth to feel that they belong.  Positive identity brings self-assurance, a sense of belonging, a positive view of personal future, and better success in school Developing a positive cultural identity — a critical element of personal identity — can be difficult for young people, especially when they may be bridging more than one culture.

The way that youth are treated in regard to their ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender directly affects their ability to develop a positive personal identity.  As adults, it is critical that we model recognition, understanding, and celebration of all cultural identities, including the cultures to which we and/or our children do not belong.

Sharing and celebrating different cultural identities increases self-esteem and promotes cultural competence among all young people.  The diversity of Silicon Valley is a benefit to our youth as they are exposed to many different cultures. While we can never fully know how life is experienced by someone of another culture, with an open and curious attitude toward multicultural issues, we can understand each other on a deeper level.

This article was provided courtesy of Project Cornerstone’s Asset-a-Month program. For more information, visit