Principal’s Corner: At Donner Trail Elementary, we believe… |

Principal’s Corner: At Donner Trail Elementary, we believe…

Sara Colborn

Donner Trail began our first day of this school year with a school-wide student meeting. Teachers asked, “How do we want our school to be? How do we want to be at Donner Trail?” After a brainstorming session, every student from Kindergarten through fifth grade engaged in drafting a belief statement. We handed out Post-It notes and pencils and asked students to complete this idea: “At Donner Trail, we believe…”

Responses ranged from, “I want to learn more, so when I grow up I can help people” to “We should be more respectful to the teachers and get a football field” to “The school will be a friendly place and hopefully everyone will get a along.” From there, students and teachers worked together to draft and approve our belief statement that encompasses important things such as safety, responsibility, friendship, our actions, and learning.

This is how we roll at Donner Trail. We work diligently to foster character development and appreciation of community. We have a strong reputation for academic excellence for all students, and our dedicated teachers and staff empower our students to be responsible for their learning.

The multi-age aspect of our classrooms allows powerful peer mentoring, differentiation and a shared love of learning. We maximize our students’ potential by tailoring teaching and learning to the individual child ensuring acceleration, additional support, and engaging hands-on experiences. We meet learning needs at all levels, and every child succeeds at Donner Trail!

We have an outdoor environmental focus at Donner Trail Elementary. Every year, we kick-off science-based learning with our autumn Yuba River Day. For decades, Donner Trail Elementary has led experience-based outdoor education and has been the hub for the area’s Winter Survival Program.

From stepping out our back door to engage in science-based field work to completing data collection on local bird species through a classroom window, Donner Trail Elementary takes advantage of its Yuba River setting throughout the year.

Our school consistently meets and exceeds academic expectations for our students as we guide them to explore these skills through the lenses of science, social science, physical education, art, and community. Our passion is to make this learning happen through inquiry and project-based learning experiences.

We are proud of our vivacious, highly qualified, award winning teachers and staff. Our dedicated families are models of participation and support! So much of the success of Donner Trail is a direct result of local community support — enrichment opportunities thanks to Measure A funding, an amazing facilities upgrade in process thanks to Measure U, and a wonderfully supportive PTO funded in large part by our annual Thanksgiving Fundraiser Dinner.

You’re invited to come check out how Donner Trail is a special community and attend our 34th Annual Thanksgiving Fundraiser at Sugar Bowl’s Mount Judah Lodge on November 5. Come be part of our community celebration and part of the tradition!

Please visit Donner Trail on Facebook and our website

Sara Colborn is principal at Donner Trail Elementary within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit for more.

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