ISLA News - November 23, 2016

September 29, 2019

Emily Smith

Administrative Assistant

Letter from the Director

Queridas Familias,

This time of year, you are more than likely seeing multiple messages in the media about Thanksgiving and the value of being thankful.  At the risk of inundating you with this same message, I would like to reflect on what this means for me in the ISLA community at this time.

As you know, there have been some interesting studies recently about the benefits of gratitude in our lives.  Etymology dictionaries tell us that the word gratitude came into the language from the Latin gratus, meaning “pleasing”, and “thankful”,  and from Old French, meaning “grace” which in turn gave us the Spanish “gracia”.   It turns out that this bit of “gracia”--  and the gratifying  expression that something is pleasing and we are happy to have it our lives-- actually helps us connect to something bigger than ourselves; indeed, it can be beneficial in overcoming some of the challenges that life throws our way.   As the Harvard Health Publication points out, gratitude  helps in countless ways, including improving overall physical and mental well being, developing empathy, and enhancing relationships.  

LIke many things, developing the skill of gratitude and capturing its advantages takes practice.   Dr. Robert A. Emmons  and Dr. Jeffrey Froh, two psychologists who have done much of the legwork on gratitude, point out that one of the ways to help students develop this skill is to have them keep a “gratitude journal”, in which they jot down things that they are thankful for.  As they tracked students in their study, they found that students who did this got higher grades, aimed higher in their goals, expressed more satisfaction in general, were less materialistic, and had a genuine desire to give back to their community (Emmons & Froh, 2008, 2011).

It has been many years since I have been able to celebrate Thanksgiving stateside. In the wake of recent events that have proven how divided our country is, it is evident that healing is necessary.  However, I am still grateful for this democratic process, as imperfect as it is.  I am grateful to be part of a community that embraces inclusion and equity, and understands that preparing students for success includes fostering tolerance and global citizenship, in addition to the pursuit of achievement.  As you know, an integral part of our mission is to “empower the whole child by nurturing the development of personal growth, strong character, academic excellence, and global vision”. In the past few weeks many parents reached out through various means and expressed how grateful they felt to be part of this nurturing environment which creates a safe space for their children to express themselves and be themselves.  I would tend to agree, and add that we are thankful for all you do for ISLA as well.  

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving,



Extra-Curricular Activities

Extra-curricular activities will be ending soon.  Here is a  breakdown of when each activity will end:

Wednesday, December 14—Young Rembrandts and Soccer
Thursday, December 15—Handcrafts, Chess and Minecraft (Grade 6)
Monday, December 19—Minecraft (Grades 4-5) and Zumba
Tuesday, December 20—Google CS

Winter Break

Dec. 22 - Jan. 3

Winter Break will soon be upon us.  The school year is flying by.  Winter Break is December 22nd through January 3rd; ISLA does not have classes during that time. 

Compañeros by Mis Amigos will be providing child care on the following days:  December 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 29th, 30th and January 3rd.  Compañeros will be at Mis Amigo’s Hopkins location (412 5th Ave N, Hopkins, MN  55343) those days.  Mis Amigos will be completely closed on December 26-27 and January 2nd. 

Please register with at least 24 hours notice so that they can staff appropriately.  Register at:

Note from an ISLA Parent

Hola. My name is Jen Jones and my daughter, Olive Kannenberg, is in Sra. Martinez’ first grade class. I was so touched by the Bolsas Solidarias project that Sra. Martinez and Sra. Alfaro created with the first graders that I wanted to share it with the whole school.

As part of their Helping Hands unit, the first graders assembled Bolsas Solidarias (Solidarity Bags) to give to homeless people or others in need. First grade families donated a few items, and each student assembled a bag that they could bring home and pass on to a person in need. The bag contained a bottle of water, a bar of soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a granola bar and a letter.

Solidarity Bags created by first grade students.

When Olive brought her bag home, I was curious about the paper folded inside. It was her letter, written in Spanish. It translates to, “My name is Olive and I want to give you some things you need. Have a good day.” At the bottom of the page she drew a rainbow. I watched with pride as my daughter reached out the car window last weekend and handed the bag to a man asking for help.

Thanks to this project, our family has decided to make our own Bolsas Solidarias. I am grateful to Siera’s Mom, Dana Anderson O’Brien who shared the Bolsas Solidarias idea with the teachers. And a big thank you to Sra. Martinez and Sra. Alfaro for showing us how we can help our community and teaching our children the beauty of giving to others. We are so grateful for our ISLA community. Muchas gracias a todos.


Cold Weather Dress  

We are seeing students without hats, mittens/gloves, boots and snow pants.  Please help us in keeping your student warm and comfortable by making sure that these items are in your child’s back pack or on their body each day.  All students will be going outside every day weather permits.

Exercise and physical activity helps children release their muscle tension after several hours in school and contributes to overall wellness, including cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance.  Recess also provides an opportunity for students to play and relax outdoors and to socialize.  As the weather is getting cooler, please ensure that your child has the appropriate dress for outside recess.  If it is determined that the temperature or the wind chill prevent safe exposure, an “inside day” will be announced, and alternate activities will be provided in the classroom or gym.  Inside days occur when the temperature falls below 0˚ F, or it is determined that it is not safe.  Students should always come to school with appropriate outdoor clothing.  Even if the weather is below 0˚ F in the morning when you drop your student off, it could warm up by recess.

Emergency School Closing

The directive to close schools comes from the office of the superintendent of Hopkins Schools as they provide transportation for our students.  All local stations announce school closings for Hopkins Schools in the morning before school opens and announce early dismissals due to developing severe weather.  ISLA will not be named individually.  We are included in the announcement obout Hopkins Public Schools #270.  If school closes early, Companeros will be closing as well.  There will be no extra-curricular activities on days of early closing or no school for the day.  If there is a question as to the possibility of school being closed, please tune your radio to WCCO or other local news stations.  The major local TV stations run a continuous print-out across the bottom  of the screen to keep you informed on school closings.  You can also sign up for e-mail notification regarding closings at the following site:

Please avoid calling the school during this extremely busy time.

The Hour of Code

ISLA will once again participate in the Hour of Code.  This is an event that happens every year during Computer Science Education Week.  The 2016 Computer Science Education Week is December 5-11.  All students will have an opportunity to experience first-hand coding.  We will be using Hour of Code Studio on December 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th.  These are some other resources for coding.  Feel free to explore with your child!

1. Scratch:
2. Hour of Code:
3. Tynker:
4. Code Academy:
5. Kahn Academy -  Hour of Code:

Tech Tools and Apps for Students and Adults with Autism

An AuSM workshop for parents, caregivers, educators, and individuals with autism instructed by Mark Coppin, MS
Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 

Royal Cliff Banquet & Conference Center  2280 Cliff Rd.  Eagan, MN 55122

iPads and tablets provide a wealth of possibilities for people with varying needs, including those with autism. Learn about and have an opportunity to try many apps that make a difference for youth and adults with autism.

During the workshop, participate in hands-on activities on the iPad while learning about apps for communication, organization, planning, storytelling, reading, writing, behavioral support, and much more. Discover how these solutions can make a difference for youth and adults with autism. At the end of the session, you will have a better understanding of apps, device management, and available accessories.

Cost (includes lunch) In the spirit of the season of giving, AuSM is offering the AuSM Member Rate for everyone who works with or cares for someone with autism. Save $20 per registration!Individual Registration: $75 per person Non-Member: $95 per person Individual with ASD: $55 per person

Click here to register.

 SW Metro ADHD Connection

SW Metro ADHD Connection will meet Monday, December 12, 7:00-8:30pm.

Topic: “Mind/Body Techniques for Stress and Anxiety”, presented by Cindy Locher, author, speaker and authority on mind/body techniques for anxiety and stress reduction. Come and learn how your mind and body respond naturally and positively to certain inputs and what inputs you may be inadvertently giving your nervous system that create or exacerbate your stress response. Several techniques will be presented and practiced and handouts provided so you can continue practicing your favorite techniques beyond the workshop.

Meeting Location: Eden Prairie Center Community Room at 8251 Flying Cloud Dr, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. (Take elevator to basement level). Hope to see you there!