Donner Trail Elementary offers unique educational experience |

Donner Trail Elementary offers unique educational experience

Susan Phebus
Special to the Sun
Suzi Phebus

Donner Trail Elementary is a small, magnet school within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, serving approximately 60-70 students in a very unique setting.

The school is nestled next to the Yuba River near the top of Donner Summit, and we take full advantage of our rich, natural environment to give students the opportunity to explore and learn outdoors as well as in the classroom.

Donner Trail Elementary provides students with a personalized and smaller multi-age learning environment. Students “work where their brain works” and achieve mastery by learning at their individual developmental level.

Our goal is that every child has a voice and an individualized educational plan throughout their educational journey at Donner Trail. Our staff has a core belief that if students feel respected, safe and capable, they will be successful.

Donner Trail Elementary is more than a school, it’s a community.

What’s happening this school year at Donner Trail?

We have a new teaching/learning center in the Castle Peak classroom that staff and volunteers worked hard this summer to create.

The staff and the families are thrilled to have Mrs. Tsaniff as our new second- third-grade grade teacher. Mrs. Tsaniff has served in several different support roles at Donner Trail prior to joining our teaching staff.

Our annual Yuba River Day will be held in October. This is a great opportunity for the Donner Trail students to bond with nature through numerous activities such as stream study, trust walks, build Washoe summer homes made of willows, etc. It allows students to take advantage of their outdoor classroom and interact with their immediate environment. We appreciate the help we receive from many of the Donner Trail parents who volunteer to make this event a success.

Our annual Thanksgiving Dinner fundraising event will be held in November. It is a night of good food and more importantly, good company. This is a PTO fundraising event and the proceeds go directly to enhance the students’ learning experiences at Donner Trail.

All grade levels will have the opportunity to attend field trips to a variety of areas that help the students make meaning of the knowledge they are receiving in their classrooms. The students might travel to the Terry Wells Museum, the Washoe County Library, Sutter’s Fort, the Gold Camps, Malakoff Diggings, and the Truckee Library.

All grade levels will perform plays throughout the year produced by the teachers.

Donner Trail will continue to implement the California Common Core State Standards. The expectation is that through its implementation the students will have a greater understanding and be able to apply their new knowledge by demonstrating it via projects, etc. The beauty of being a student at Donner Trail is the tightly articulated and focused program.

The teachers and I are excited and look forward to serving our students and families during the 2014-2015 school year. Welcome all and thank you for being a part of our community of learners.

Susan Phebus is the principal of Donner Trail Elementary.

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