From the principal’s office: Donner Trail Elementary is steeped in outdoor education | SierraSun.com

From the principal’s office: Donner Trail Elementary is steeped in outdoor education

Susan Phebus
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Donner Trail Elementary is a bustling small school that focuses on students and their growth as people and learners. We presently have 69 students in kindergarten through 5th grade with three classroom teachers and two part-time teachers for P.E. and computer. The school houses two classrooms and a gym and is located on the west side of Donner Summit near Kingvale; the back doors of the school face the Yuba River. Teachers have two grade levels in each classroom, and throughout the school year the students are placed in multi-age groupings for various activities in a variety of subject matter. Our multi-age focus is a unique quality that has enabled the school to blossom over the last 18 years. Combined with a smaller population, Donner Trail provides a choice for children within the Tahoe Truckee system of schools.

Donner Trail follows the district’s mission of “Every Student Learning Every Day” by providing a literacy-rich and caring environment for children to learn. All students are in a Response to Learning (RTL) period where they participate in grade-level appropriate daily instruction and enrichment. During the core class time, differentiated instruction occurs for the students in need of a different or extended curriculum.

Donner Trail’s Academic Performance Index is currently at 881. The API is considered the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 and measures the academic performance and growth of schools on a variety of academic measures. What does this mean for our school? It means that we are doing well, but need to continuously improve so that all students are scoring at proficient or advanced. Our goal is once again “Every Student Learning, Every Day.”

In 2005, Donner Trail Elementary received recognition from the California Business for Education Excellence for being a California Scholar School. The teachers and staff attended a recognition dinner in San Francisco and were feted with an award in recognition of our API. The CBEE’s Honor Roll includes California public elementary, middle and high schools that have been recognized by California’s business community for having demonstrated consistent high student academic achievement and making significant progress toward closing achievement gaps among all their students. The annual award is supported by numerous businesses and organizations including State Farm, Macy’s, Edison International, Wells Fargo, Southern California Auto Club, the California Business Roundtable, and United Way of the Bay Area.

Donner Trail is steeped in outdoor education. Each year the students participate in Yuba River Day. Their main job during this day is environmental restoration of the Yuba River and the adjoining area behind the school. They clean the river, plant vegetation, and restore the river area to its natural state. Additionally, each winter the Winter Survival program is located at Donner Trail. It caters to schools within the district and county and provides a program that teaches students how to survive if they are lost or stranded in a winter environment.

The school is central to the community of Donner Summit and has become a focal point of the community. This fall the school will host the 30th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. The purpose of the dinner is to celebrate and support the local school. Many alumni attend the dinner as well as their families and friends that live on the summit, in Truckee and the surrounding area. This year the Thanksgiving Dinner will be celebrated November 11 at Mt. Judah Lodge. Everyone is invited … it is a night of good food, good entertainment and good company.

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The entire staff appreciates the opportunity to work for and with our families and community to achieve each child’s success. We welcome visitors, so please stop by and visit!