Playoffs Are Here...Go Phins!

November 02, 2015 

The building has been buzzing with returns from Outdoor Ed, parent/teacher conferences and the annual Halloween Parade. This week is playoffs week for our athletic league. There are many opportunities to come out and support our students. Every team that competed this season has qualified for the playoffs! Here is the schedule for the sports week. We hope you can make it out and root for our students.

Monday, November 2

Boys Varsity Soccer vs Cathedral at Crocker-Amazon (4:00pm)
Girls Varsity Volleyball vs Int'l at SFDS (5:00pm)
Girls 6th Grade Volleyball vs MCDS at Marin (3:45pm)

Tuesday, November 3

Boys JV Soccer vs Stuart Hall at the Polo Fields (3:45pm)
Girls JV Volleyball vs Int'l at SFDS (4:00pm)

Potential Game

Girls Varsity Volleyball vs Burkes at Burkes (4:00pm)

Wednesday, November 4

Potential Games

Boys Varsity Soccer Championship at MCDS (3:30pm)
Boys JV Soccer Championship at Crocker-Amazon (4:00pm)
Girls Varsity Volleyball Championship at St. Agnes (4:00pm)
Girls JV Volleyball Championship at St. Agnes (5:30pm)
6th Grade Girls Volleyball TBD

Questions?  Contact Jason Tognetti, Director of Athletics:

SFDS: A Bewitching Place to Be

October 29, 2015 

I'm pleased to report that my first Halloween at San Francisco Day School has been more treats than tricks: not so much a scary experience as it is a celebration of learning, the power of creativity, and the memory of those we hold close to our hearts.
Seeing the vibrant Dia de los Muertos display in the lobby brought back memories of my youth in Mexico City.  The international school I attended was a few blocks away from the National Cemetery.  On the way to school, I would pass the cemetery and its high, black rod iron front gates, which at that time of year were lined with stalls selling an array of brightly colored flowers, dangling ornaments, candied skulls, and decorated candles as tall as small children. I remember being mystified driving home Halloween evening, as I watched whole families file into the cemetery with food, gifts, and decorations in preparation to spend the night graveside remembering their loved ones.  Part of me was drawn to the adventure of spending a night in a cemetery; however, my practical side was content to go home and trick or treat in our neighborhood.
This year I spent the first part of Halloween week in Chicago attending an INDEX (“Independent School Data Exchange”) conference with Susan Wayland, our chief financial officer.  As a new member of INDEX, San Francisco Day School now contributes and has access to a nationalized data set from schools of similar size, organizational structure, and mission.
As scary as Halloween can be, data analysis need not be. Our relationship with INDEX will allow us to benchmark our financial, fundraising, and admissions data. In addition, SFDS is now professionally affiliated with a network of CFOs and school heads, providing us with an abundant source of information, advice, and context.  As I come to understand SFDS culture by “looking in,” our relationship with INDEX provides an invaluable window to the “outside” -- both perspectives are necessary in charting a strategic direction.
In addition to the data collection and analysis, we attended sessions on: Validating the Outcomes of an Independent School Education (which I was asked to facilitate), Diversity and Inclusion, Designing Project-Based Learning Spaces, How to Create and Use Data Dashboards, and Creating a Culture of Critical and Creative Thinking.
I particularly enjoyed the final two hours of the conference, which I spent with other school heads in a free-flowing discussion. We talked about how to set strategic priorities, described the traits of and demands on leadership, and explored how to educate both the students and adults in our school communities. Our conversation concluded with a summary of what we need to be thinking and learning about in order to best understand and meet the needs of our current families, while keeping an eye to the future in order to ensure the viability and success of our schools.
Putting myself in the presence of school heads from across the country confirmed for me that San Francisco is a hotbed of educational thinking. Thus, I was glad to get home and back to SFDS. The balancing act I try to achieve every day is attending to the daily details and demands of running a school, while keeping an interested eye to the future in order to anticipate how our learning and school should evolve.
And so with only hours left until my first Halloween parade, I look forward to relishing this bit of Day School life. Traditions like these not only capture the wild imagination of our students, but they also fuel the memories we keep and inspire the vision we hold.  Here's to a safe and happy Halloween.

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Highlights from the Town Hall

October 16, 2015 

On Tuesday evening, SFDS community members gathered for a Town Hall meeting.  Dr. Mike Walker opened the evening with a warm welcome and quickly turned attention to his impressions of SFDS to date and goals for the upcoming year.
Dr. Walker revisited the transition plan and discussed the theoretical framework and intentional process he is using to listen and learn in order to inform strategic directions. At the close of 2015, he will participate in a board retreat to synthesize learning and begin agenda setting for 2016 and beyond.

Dr. Walker shared a quotation from educational leader John Dewey, and his philosophy on the purpose of education. Dr. Walker emphasized that education should inspire children's curiosity and teach them how to ask better, more perceptive questions. He cited several references that support the power of inquiry in learning:

  • A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
  • Brain Rules by John Medina
  • The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
  • Play by Stuart Brown, M.D.

Dr. Walker asked parents to reflect on the outcomes and core competencies desired in a San Francisco Day School graduate, and then invited everyone to share their feedback. Answers included "I want my child to be confident," "I want her to be able to work well with others," and "I want to teach my child about privilege," among others.  Dr. Walker shared his gratitude and appreciation for our families' engagement and commitment to a healthy and robust dialogue.  Thank you to all who were able to attend.

AEP Holiday Schedule & Key Dates

October 16, 2015 

Greetings from your AEP team!  As we approach the holiday months, we wanted to make you aware of the Afterschool Enrichment Program schedule, as well as upcoming key dates.  It's been a busy school year, and we hope your children have enjoyed their afterschool time as much as we have!  Please take a moment to review the information below and don't hesitate to reach out with questions to Erin Acharya at  We appreciate your input.

AEP Schedule

AEP is available to all SFDS students daily from 2:15-6:00 p.m. and during most vacations and faculty work days from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Here's a list of AEP availability for upcoming holidays and faculty work days to help you plan your childcare.

  • October 30: Half Day (Halloween) - AEP is available until 6:00 p.m. - bring a lunch!
  • November 2-3: LS and US Parent-Teacher Conferences - AEP is available until 6:00 p.m.
  • November 20: Half Day - AEP is available until 6:00 p.m. - bring a lunch!
  • November 23-24: No School/Faculty Work Days - AEP is available 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
  • November 25-27: No School/Thanksgiving Break - AEP is NOT available
  • December 18: Half Day - AEP is available until 6:00 p.m. - bring a lunch!
  • December 21-January 1: No School/Winter Break - AEP is NOT available

AEP Enrichment Classes
Students may enroll in individual classes or combine their daily attendance at AEP with participation in enrichment classes.
Key dates to keep in mind:
 - Block I ends on November 19
 - Block II begins on December 7!  Enrollment for Block II will begin on Monday, November 11.

Although many classes are designed for children in K-4, this year we have several interesting and challenging classes for upper school students, like Intro to Coding!

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Great Shakeout Drill is Thursday 10/15

October 13, 2015 

On Thursday, October 15th at 10:15 a.m., SFDS will participate in the Great California Shakeout.

Our drill will focus on evacuation procedures, emergency team formation, and emergency communication systems. Please take the time to ensure your emergency contact information is up to date and follow our emergency Twitter channel. You do not need a smartphone - any cell phone with a data plan will work. If you can receive and send text messages on your phone, you can have your phone receive valuable emergency texts from SFDS.

1) Follow us on Twitter by texting this message to 40404:  Follow SFDSe1

In other words, the "phone number" that you are texting to is 40404; the text message in the body of the message is "follow sfdse1".

Note: Capitalization doesn't matter. These accounts are only for emergency and testing purposes, and will not to be used by SFDS or Twitter for any other purpose.

Here is more information regarding the Great Shakeout drill, so that you may continue the conversation with your child(ren) at home:

At 10:15 a.m. on 10/15, millions of Californians will practice "drop, cover, and hold on," and so will we. Adults in the community will also run through our emergency operations plan for what will happen after a quake, including assessing building damage and communicating with a mass broadcast system that will call your emergency contacts. You or your emergency contact will hear a recorded message: “This is a test of the San Francisco Day School’s Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.”  Take the time to talk to your children about your family’s emergency preparation and reunification plans.

2) Update SFDS Contact Info if Necessary

If your SFDS emergency contact information has changed since you completed the Back-to-School forms in September, please email your new contact information (name/phone/email) to If you do not recall your emergency contacts, you may check by inquiring with  Thank you!

SFDS Emergency Plan
To learn more about the School's plan during an emergency and/or other emergency-related information and resources, please visit:

Please direct questions and comments to Danny De Leon, Director of Facilities.

Danny De Leon
Director of Facilities
(415) 568-3640

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Surfing and SFDS: A Reflection on September

October 02, 2015 

The first few weeks of school here have felt like a great surfing session in Hawaii.  The days are as invigorating as the sight of sets rising on the horizon, as exhilarating as the intense paddling it takes to get into position, and as thrilling as the cathartic sensation of being propelled by an energy that you realize is greater than the self.

Students bursting through the Golden Gate doors each morning, enthusiastic Back-to-School Nights, student buddy pairs meeting for the first time, parents gathering for coffees or meetings in the library, and photo shoots with rambunctious puppies: collectively, these generate as much energy as a good southern swell.

As students float about the school during the day, I ask them where they are off to and their tireless range of motion affirms the breadth of the Day School curriculum. They are exploring the mysterious wonders of the world in math and science labs, through their music and art, and in PE and play time.  In just a few short weeks, I have already encountered kindergarteners eager to meet goats at the Slide Ranch, Wendy, Hoku (our golden retriever) and I huddled around the campfire with seventh graders at the Rob Hill overnight trip, and we spent a Saturday morning raking leaves and cleaning up the park with families in the Panhandle.  Of course, this is in addition to visiting soccer games at the Polo Fields, cross country meets in the Presidio, volleyball games in the gym, and a Library Fall Festival filled with the joy of words, wisdom, and Bingo.  All of these events help me understand the myriad ways our students are engaged in learning.

All of this happens for the children because of the effort and energy of the adults.  Within the span of a single 24-hour period, I have seen teachers teaching in a classroom, leading a trail hike, and then skillfully coaching a team. Parents are equally as vested, providing support for teachers, transporting students to games and field trips, and attending and organizing the complete spectrum of events at SFDS.

Just as a good surf session requires the right board--and on this side of the Pacific, a wetsuit--creating these learning experiences for students requires resources. We want to extend a special thanks to Jeremiah Lane, Courtney Norris, and Arvind Rajan for their leadership in chairing the Annual Fund, which to-date is on track and generating its own energy.  We also want to acknowledge Lael Sturm, Matt Murray, and Chris Weltzien for stepping forward to lead CultureFest, creating the thrill of a great community event while helping achieve our discounted tuition goals. PA President Ginny Conner and the PA Executive Committee have already become like the skeggs (keel) on my board, providing me stability and a sense of direction. And finally, a special thanks to the room parents, admission volunteers, Annual Fund class captains, and all of the parents who both support and represent the School. What you do for and how you communicate about SFDS is the School’s most significant resource and asset.

The school year is indeed off to a great start.  As you read in the Week Ahead, we have recast the State of the School, and instead will be gathering parents in the Library on October 13 with more of a Town Meeting format. I will be sharing the theoretical framework I previously reviewed with faculty, which will inform the strategic directions being considered by the School. My transition plan calls for me to listen well during these first few months, something I plan to continue for years ahead. That being said, I know parents are eager to know what is on our minds, and I am always invigorated by a robust discussion about educational aspirations.

My main purpose in writing is to let you know how inspired I am by your children’s learning, by the teachers I see interacting with them everyday, and through my conversations with parents. Just as the energy of the ocean expresses itself in waves, the spirit of SFDS is generated by the countless interactions and exchanges between children and adults in our community.  The result is an education and experience unique to our school -- a ride unlike any other. 



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Meet Your 2015-2016 Student Congress

September 30, 2015 

Each year, SFDS holds elections for its Student Congress representatives.  Student Congress is unique to other student governments because it adopts the structure of the United States government with representatives and committees, and affords more opportunities for student leadership and collaboration grounded in real-life concepts.  Upper school students voted for their class representatives after listening to their peers' speeches last week.  Student Congress meetings will begin this week, under the mentorship of history teacher Michael Duryee-Browner.  Congratulatations to this year's representatives:

5th Grade:  Mark D., Josie F., Tessa H., Jake M., James S., and Nico K.

6th Grade:  Ava D., Bailey F., Felix F., Quincy H., Teddy M., and Kate W.

7th Grade: Vincent C., Elizabeth E., Nicolas G., Charlie K., Maya M., and Davis R.

8th Grade: Dillon C., William D., Sydney G., Lizzy H., Phoebe K., Carolina L., Abigail P., and Max S. 


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Highlights from US Back-to-School Night

September 14, 2015 

Dear SFDS Upper School Families,

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of hosting our first back-to-school night together, and what a night it was.  I was enormously proud of the diligent work and collaboration demonstrated by our teachers.  Thank you for giving us your time to share curriculum and goals for the year ahead. 

During the reception, Dr. Walker and I had the good fortune to get to know all of you a bit better.  It's gratifying to be a part of this close-knit community and I look forward to more conversations in the future. 

For those who were unable to join us at back-to-school night, please feel free to review the event via this link.  Among other classroom presentations and advisor meetings, our dynamic art department demonstrated and shared their intentional collaboration to support anti-bias curriculum while integrating art, technology, and music -- just one example of the depth and breadth of our upper school curriculum and teaching.  Our technology team discussed the role of integrated technology within the context of supporting learning and deepening understanding for our students.  One teacher stated how they themselves became inspired seeing their colleagues share-out and demonstrate their philosophies and practices.  Cultivating these thoughtful cross-disciplinary interactions will continue to be a focus and practice this year.

If you could please take a moment to complete a short survey, it will help us ensure these events are as informative and worthwhile as possible (email Jason Tognetti for survey link).  If you have lingering questions or comments, please email or call so that we can schedule time to speak and provide you with our undivided attention.

Grade-level coffees this week

  • Tuesday, September 15:  8th Grade in Library Media Center, 8:15 a.m.
  • Thursday, September 17:  5th Grade in Library Media Center, 8:15 a.m.

Here's a link of candid snapshots of upper school life over the past two weeks (usual SFDS password).  Enjoy and have a wonderful week!

Ruth Bissell, Ph.D.
Upper School Head 

Library Fall Festival is September 25!

September 10, 2015 

Join us for the Library Media Center Fall Festival on Friday, September 25th from 3:00-5:00 p.m.

All SFDS families and friends are invited to shop for pre-selected books which will be donated to our library. While you're here, catch up with other community members and bring your children for snacks and activities including: games, arts and crafts, storytelling, and many prizes and treats for everyone!

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Support SFDS PA!

September 10, 2015 

Please consider these easy ways to support your SFDS Parents Association, simply by shopping at local grocery stores and select online and offline retail stores. 

1) Amazon Associates

Don't forget to use THIS LINK when shopping on Amazon!

A portion of your purchase comes back to SFDS

Click here to shop on Amazon and support San Francisco Day School!  As part of the Amazon Associates program, this unique link has our school code embedded so that SFDS receives up to 15% in referral fees for purchases made on the Amazon site. Go ahead and bookmark this page - it's an easy way to support SFDS at no cost to you. Spread the word to friends and grandparents too!


2) Sports Basement

High-end gear at bargain basement prices!

10% discount and 10% to SFDS

Sports Basement is an outdoor sporting goods store that sells the best brands at basement prices! Help support SFDS PA by shopping at Sports Basement. If you mention SF Day School at the register, you will automatically save 10% off of everything you purchase AND Sports Basement will donate 10% of the proceeds from your purchase to our school. Simple, right? Last year, our community efforts raised over $6,900!

3) Target REDCard

See "RED" to support green & white!

1% of your Credit or Debit REDCard Target purchase goes to SFDS

If you already use a Target REDCard, your everyday purchases can add up to support SFDS! If you designate SFDS as your school of choice, Target will donate 1% of your Credit or Debit REDcard purchases made at Target and

Click here to choose San Francisco Day School. The School ID for SFDS is 18850. As of August 2014, SFDS has received over $1,100 in donations from Target REDCard purchases!

4) eScrip

Percentage of each purchase to SFDS, with specified retailers

Now you can support SFDS PA while shopping at your favorite online retailers. Here are just a few of the participating retailers: J. Crew, Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma, Old Navy, Toms Shoes, Sephora, FedEx Office, Apple iTunes, CVS, Home Depot, and Peet's Coffee.

Our school ID: 137596750


THANK YOU for supporting the SFDS Parents Association!  Among other contributions, the PA makes these things possible:

  • Guest speakers and resources for PA-sponsored events
  • Childcare at PA-sponsored events
  • Faculty appreciation program, including the annual holiday party
  • PA Welcome coffee reception
  • Volunteer Thank You reception
  • Complimentary food and drink at PA-sponsored events

Questions?  Please contact:

Deirdre Nonaka, PA Treasurer (

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