Principal’s Blog, April 2018
Dear PSA Parents, Students, and Staff,
It’s that time of year again! State testing is upon us. I am happy to report that PSA students rocked the test last year. We had a schoolwide increase in test scores and we’re ready to show continued growth this year. From the end of April through the month of May, students will be testing by grade level. We are confident that our scores will continue to increase as a result of the hard work of our students, staff, and parents. Without everyone’s involvement, we would not have the success we’ve seen thus far. So remember, keep up the hard work! We’re almost finished and summer break is right around the corner. Let’s make these last two months count!
Don’t stress, do your BEST, forget the rest!
Dear PSA Parents, Students, and Staff,
There is quite a lot of political talk about school shootings, gun control, the need for congressional actions, and so-on… However, what I want to discuss in this month’s blog is what’s beneath the surface of an active shooter. No amount of gun control or safety measures can address the cause of violence. A child who gets to a breaking point, where he/she is so sad and hopeless, or so filled with rage that they decide to bring a gun to school, is a child who has likely been crying out for help for too long. How can we evolve into a more loving and tolerant society? Not all kids feel included. Does this give them a right to fall off the deep end and commit a mass shooting? NO. But could it have been prevented? Perhaps.
There is a story I heard recently about a teacher who asked all her students to write her a weekly note. She would ask them to include how their week went, and most importantly, who they had lunch with and who their best friend(s) are. The kids who seemed not to have many friends were the kids she kept an eye on. The efforts this teacher made and the extra steps she took to make sure all of her students were included by their peers, most definitely had a lasting effect.
Teachers: Maybe you can try out something similar to what the teacher mentioned above did with her students.
Staff and Parents: Kids need to be taught tolerance. It’s in our nature to see differences and to fear differences. But to teach kids that differences are OK, and that we are all the same on the inside, is something we might not do enough. Maybe we think its common sense. But, so many kids feel bullied or like they are outcasts. How can we address this epidemic?
Students: Reach out to the students who sit alone at lunch. Reach out to the kids who seem “weird” and quirky; they are probably some of the most interesting individuals you will ever meet. Reach out to your peers who are shy. Reach out to the kids who don’t have any friends. If kids feel they are an important part of their community, perhaps the feelings of loneliness and hopelessness will begin to dissipate.
All we hear about now days is school shootings, fights, and violence. I hope this generation is the one that puts a stop to the madness. I hope these kids do not become desensitized to violence; but rather, see the sadness that violence brings. I hope this generation becomes an agent for change.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear PSA Parents, Students, and Staff,
January 15th was MLK Day. As I reflected on what a great person he was, I thought I’d write my blog about how he inspires us all to be better people. As the quote states: Love is the only thing that can drive out hate. This is something I was raised to believe, and something I want to pass on to younger generations. As a small school, we are a family. We do love one another—even if we don’t always like one another At some of the other public schools out there, we see hate-violence, racism, and bullying. I know PSA isn’t perfect, but I feel there is a closeness among students here. Our cadets are a team; they stick up for one another. This generation of PSA cadets are going to grow up surrounded by love rather than hate. They see beyond color and cultural differences, because they are a family, regardless of their background, skin color, or socioeconomic status. This month, I encourage parents to talk with your children about some of MLK’s values, and how we can all practice these values today. We can all work on being less judgmental, and more accepting and forgiving. MLK said, “Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.” Let’s make 2018 a year where we practice love, tolerance, and kindness toward everyone in our community.
Principal’s Blog, December 2017
Dear PSA Parents, Students, and Staff,
The holiday season is an exciting time filled with giving, gratitude, and love. One thing that can make holidays special is having family traditions. I was reflecting on all the fun things we did growing up during the holidays, and I thought it would be fun to ask our cadets what their holiday traditions are. So I did!
“For our Christmas tradition, our family gathers at my grandma’s house and she makes tamales. My mom makes champurrado and cocoa flan. My aunt makes pozole. My godmother makes the dessert. Then at midnight we get Baby Jesus and carry him and kiss him. Then, we do our Secret Santa gifts. That is our tradition as a family.” —Fabian Lopez, 8th Grade
“We go to Mexico and we celebrate Christmas together. We give out food to the people in need; we go to everyone’s house and give them food. We make a big posada, and everyone is invited.” —Teresa Raya, 11th Grade
“I eat tamales!” —Juan Hernandez and Michael James, 6th Grade
“My family tradition is we go out of town, like to Las Vegas, and last year we went to Miami. We eat a lot and see the lights in Riverside (Mission Inn), with all my family.” —Irmarie Gonzalez, 11th Grade
“On Christmas our family drinks apple cider!” –Jovani Morales, 6th Grade
“My family celebrates Dia de Los Reyes. That’s when you put your shoe in the window and they put a present in your shoe.”—Angelica Hurtado, 8th Grade
“I celebrate Christmas by opening my presents, going to church, eating tamales, and I drink apple cider.” –Robert Tejeda, 6th Grade
“First, what we do is put up the lights on our house and inside. Then we buy a tree and decorate it so it looks nice. Then on Christmas day, we make tamales, hot cocoa, and pozole. Also, we watch Christmas movies. We open presents together when it hits 9:30. So this is our family tradition for Christmas.”
—Jesus Reza, 6th Grade
“We open gifts at midnight!” –Dolores Lemus, 6th Grade
“We open our presents and we drink eggnog.” –Julian Lopez, 6th Grade
“My family tradition is making tamales, champurrado, dancing to music, making food, doing Secret Santa, opening gifts, and going to the lights at the Mission Inn.” –Jennifer DeAnda, 11th Grade
Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!
PSA Parents, Students, and Staff!
For my October blog I’d like to discuss “searching students” at school. Unfortunately, we live in a society where drugs and weapons are readily available to people—even children. Searching a student at school for drugs or weapons is a touchy subject—are the lines blurred when it comes to safety and civil rights? At PSA, our goal is to keep kids safe above all, but to also respect our cadets’ civil rights, just as we would expect our own rights to be respected.
As stated, this is a touchy subject, so I would like to address how we deal with student searches at PSA. First and foremost, we abide by all State and Federal laws regarding searches. But the 4th Amendment is seen a bit differently in educational institutions, as, student safety supersedes everything. Students have the 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. However, whereas in society, law enforcement would need a warrant and probable cause to search someone, school administrators need only “reasonable suspicion,” per ed. code. This means that if we are given cause to suspect that a child is carrying something dangerous, we have the right to search that student’s backpack/belongings, as well as ask the student to shake out their boots and pockets. Under NO circumstances are schools allowed to strip search, or do anything of that nature.
I understand that this is a sensitive issue. I welcome any parents or family members to sit down with me to discuss this further if they have any concerns. I want my students and extended PSA family to know that I care about your children’s safety, and while searches are sometimes necessary, they are conducted within the confines of the law, are only conducted under reasonable suspicion, and in an effort to maintain a safe, drug-free, and weapon free campus.
Have an outstanding October!
—Mrs. Stickel, Principal
Principal’s Blog, September 2017
By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer's best of weather, and autumn's best of cheer.
—Helen Hunt Jackson
Hello PSA Parents, Students, and Staff!
As we jump into September it’s time to reflect on our students’ academic progress thus far. In focusing on academics, the article entitled: The Global Achievement Gap: Why America’s Students Are Falling Behind, by Cindy Donaldson, may be worth reading. In this article, Donaldson points out that our kids may not be developing the following 7 skills as thoroughly as they should be: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Leading by Influence, Agility and Adaptability, Initiative and Entrepreneurialism, Effective Oral and Written Communication, Assessing/Analyzing Data, as well as Curiosity and Imagination.
Public Safety Academy Staff is committed to integrating the development of these skills alongside with the regular curriculum. We ask that parents try to reinforce these skills at home as well. Donaldson offers the following ideas:
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: What you can do: Have your child help you figure out real-life problems at home. Let him help you assemble a Christmas present, fix a broken light socket, research your summer vacation, or plan a party. When he encounters an obstacle, resist telling him the solution. Instead, help him find ways to analyze the problem and develop solutions. And when the teacher assigns a project, resist the urge to over-help. He may struggle at first, but over time he’ll develop confidence in himself.
Leading by Influence: What you can do: Let your child join a team or organization, and learn to work with a group. When she has a problem with a teacher, coach or a friend, help her practice what she wants to say, but let her take care of it. Children can’t learn to advocate for themselves if the adults in their lives speak for them all the time.
Agility and Adaptability: What you can do: Model flexibility. When you encounter a change in plans, don’t get upset. Instead, use it as a chance to teach your child how to think on her feet. For instance, if your flight gets cancelled, let her help you find a new one. If you get lost, let her use the map or help ask for directions. If your oven breaks on Thanksgiving, have her help you brainstorm ways to put a turkey on the table. By showing her that the world doesn’t end when plans change, you’ll instill a can-do attitude that will benefit every part of her life.
Initiative and Entrepreneurialism: What you can do: Let your child develop and follow his own interests. Resist the urge to force him into activities that you choose. Children can endure anything, but they truly blossom when they find an activity they enjoy. Once he’s involved, encourage him to show initiative by taking his activity to the next level: run for an office, manage a fundraiser, or recruit friends. He’ll be more motivated when he’s doing something he loves.
Effective Oral and Written Communication: What you can do: Eat dinner together as a family whenever possible. Interact. Bring up hot topics, and have debates. Have your children write thank-you notes. Read their English essays and tell them about sections you really like.
Assessing and Analyzing Data: What you can do: When your child asks you a question, don’t just tell him the answer. Go to the computer together, and look things up. Talk to her about what you find – can you trust the source? Is it reliable? Discuss the markers of good information.
Curiosity and Imagination: What you can do: Encourage questions, no matter how tired you are. Offer to explore ideas and projects your child is curious about. Let him lead the way. When he finds something he really loves, encourage him to pursue it. Help him do research, get him some supplies, and take him places where he can explore the topic to his heart’s content.
Have a splendid September!
—Mrs. Stickel, Principal
Hello! My name is Jennifer Stickel, and I am the principal at Public Safety Academy. I’d like to share a bit about myself so you may all get to know me better. I look forward to getting to know you as well.
I have been working in education for 17 years. I began teaching in 2000. I came to PSA in 2009, and took over as Principal in 2013. Before becoming a teacher, I attended UCR. I earned my teaching credential at the University of Redlands, and my Masters in Education at CSUSB. I love working in secondary education, and I hope to remain at PSA for many years to come.
I am happily married with 4 stepchildren. We love to play cards and board games, go to the movies, and take vacations to the beach together in the summer. Our two oldest daughters are in college, our son is a 10th grader this year, and our youngest daughter is going into middle school.
I love to paint, play the piano, and read historical fiction. I am passionate about animals and donate to several animal rescue organizations. I have a dog named Lady, and a cat named Penny. I love being a school principal, and look forward to coming to work every day!!
Advice for a Successful School Year:
READ READ READ, every night! Studies continue to prove that literacy is the key to getting better grades in all subjects. Putting down the phones, tablets, and other technology, for just 30-60 minutes a night, and reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, can increase student achievement drastically.
Have a splendid school year!!
Principal Jennifer Stickel
I have been the principal at PSA since 2013. It is my pleasure to lead our future leaders.