January seems to be flying by with the second half of the year very underway. If you missed the chance to attend one of Principal Anne Dolid’s parent coffees during the first semester, a second coffee will be taking place for each grade level during the second semester.  Anne holds these coffees with individual grade levels to provide an opportunity for parents to ask any questions that may have come up in the past months or that may be on your mind as you look ahead to the coming months.  I have heard that these are assumed to be a purely social gathering, but they aren’t. These parent coffees are intended to be an opportunity to hear from Anne as well as ask her questions about all things related to your child’s grade level. A little chatting before we get underway and coffee are just a bonus!  Come, join the discussion and learn.

Kindergarten Parent Coffee:  Monday, 1/28 8:30-9:30 am (Havens Library)

1st Grade Parent Coffee:  Monday, 3/4 8:30-9:30 am (Havens Library)

All parent coffee dates are included on the Havens calendar.  I will provide reminders for all other grade levels in the coming months.

Other opportunities for parents to learn:

Puberty Education Parent Ed Night: TOMORROW, Thursday 24th at 7:00 pm in the Wildwood Library.  All 4th and 5th grade parents have received details in their room parent communication the last 2 weeks.   I’ve been to this parent talk when my oldest son was in 5th grade and feel it should be required for all parents.

Dimensions in Gender Parent Info Night:  Monday, February 4th at 7:00 pm in Ellen Driscoll.  This is a wonderful opportunity to hear from our teachers and administrators in our district who have been trained in the dimensions of gender as we work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for ALL students.  Come and learn!

As I wrap this up, I’m struck by how fortunate we are, as parents, to have these opportunities to learn.

Enjoy the sunshine this week,

Laura Amen, HPC President



January’s weather has been a bit dreary, but one bright spot was last Friday’s 11th Annual Havens Dad’s Club Poker Night.  A little bit of rain that evening didn’t deter lots of parents from going all in for the kids!  Huge thanks to HDC President Francis Hoang and his planning committee:  Roger Tsai, Bruce Wagg, Scott Cunningham, Tom Snyder, Dave McMurtry, Robert Dorsey, Ricardo Fabi and John Assalian.  We are very lucky to have such a dedicated group working to support Havens.

Thank you to the handful of HPC board members and parents who attended last night’s tri-school parent club meeting.  Superintendent Randy Booker shared an overview of the PUSD budget, explained how funding from the state of California works, provided projections for the 2019-2020 school year and beyond, and highlighted some areas where we will likely need to make changes.  Unfortunately, the budget news is not positive.

In addition to the budget discussion, Piedmont Police Captain Chris Monahan also joined Randy to discuss the current proposal for a School Resource Officer (SRO) at our secondary campuses.  The parent community had many questions about the SRO and it led to a very deep and interesting discussion. In addition to our Superintendent and Police Captain, we had 3 members of our Board of Education and all 3 elementary school Principals in attendance.

I’m sorry more of our Havens community were not able to attend, but please mark your calendar for our next HPC meeting on Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 pm in the Havens Library.

Thanks and take care,

Laura Amen, HPC President


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a fun and festive winter break.  The first HPC meeting of 2019 will be on Tuesday, January 15th at 7:00 PM in the Wildwood Library.  Please note that the meeting date and location have changed (please remove the 1/18 entry from your calendar).  As Anne mentioned above, this meeting will be a tri-school parents club meeting for Havens, Beach and Wildwood. We will take a few minutes to discuss parent club business before diving into 2 speaker topics:

PUSD Budget – 2019 and Beyond

Superintendent Randy Booker will be giving us an overview of the state of the PUSD budget.  The district shows over $1.5M in deficit spending for the 2019-20 school year which will require the district to be extremely thoughtful in both budget reductions and enhancement strategies.  Superintendent Booker’s presentation will give an overview of the current budget and provide an opportunity for our parent community to give feedback and ask questions.

School Resource Officer

Superintendent Booker and Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers will then present their proposal for a School Resource Officer at the secondary campuses.  This proposal is still in its information gathering stage and they are meeting with each parent club (along with many other groups) to gather more input before making a recommendation to the Board in February.  Their presentation will provide an overview of the goals and operations of a PUSD School Resource Officer Program and provide an opportunity for our parent community to give feedback and ask questions.

If you haven’t yet attended an HPC meeting this year, Tuesday is a great opportunity for you to do so.  

As we kick off 2019, I encourage all of you to get involved.  Reach out with an idea, sign up for something you’ve never done before, drive on a field trip, send a note to your child’s teacher to let them know how they have made a difference, come and serve hot lunch, organize a weekend campus clean-up effort, attend an HPC meeting (my personal favorite!) or contribute in whatever manner speaks to you.

Hope to see you around campus,

Laura Amen, HPC President


Havens Winter Festival

What fun we had last Friday afternoon at the Havens Winter Festival!  Thanks to all who attended and shared together in the joy of the holiday season with snacks and winter crafts.  But even more importantly thanks to all for embracing such a spirit of giving.  The SERVES team had activities benefitting the victims of the Camp Fire as well as creating holiday wishes for a local senior community.  It was touching to see so many gifts pouring into Ellen Driscoll for the Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay as well.  The stage was full of overflowing bags of gifts and preschool supplies, and the gift wrapping table helpers were working feverishly to keep up!  Thank you to all for your generosity and commitment to our Havens values.

An event with a couple of hundred people attending simply cannot happen without MANY helpers.  My sincere thanks to: Amy Gurvitz and Erin Schultz for making Ellen Driscoll glow with winter decorations, Sara Eisemon and Laura Edeen for organizing and overseeing the thoughtful SERVES activities, Julie Stein for helping at the silly snowman craft table, Heidi Upton for creating the many sign ups for the JFCS Gift Giving Program, Dana Lung for managing the monumental task of organizing our JFCS gifts, Michele Cucullu for overseeing the very busy snack table (those kids sure do like Hershey kisses better than string cheese and oranges), Jamie Van Kleeck from Piedmont Middle School for organizing her awesome leadership class students to come and help, the clean up crew (always important but never a popular job) of Michele Cucullu, Dana Lung, Mandana Veiseh and Bahram Bahtami, the Scrip Team from the PEF office for joining our celebration to sell Scrip gift cards and See’s Candy, big sisters (who are also former Havens students) for helping with crafts and face painting, and Jennifer Poole and Tara Boris for joining me in filling our cars on Monday to deliver the gifts to JFCS.  I sincerely thank each of you for stepping up to volunteer.

Reminders & Dates

  • Thank you to all who made a donation to the Class Funds on the Piedmont Store (www.piedmontstore.com).  The Class Fund serves as the group gift that is given to all Havens teachers and staff in December for the holidays and in May for an end of year thank you.  The Scrip team has been busy getting the holiday gifts out, and if you already contributed there is nothing else you need to do!  If your family would like to do something instead of or in addition to the Class Fund, by all means please do so on an individual basis.  Appreciating our teachers and staff is ALWAYS wonderful.  If you have not yet donated to the Class Fund, it’s never too late.  Contribute now and it will be included for our end of year appreciation gifts in May.
  • The December 18th HPC meeting has been cancelled. Please remove from your calendar.
  • The January HPC meeting has a new date and time:  January 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm in the Havens Library.  Please update your calendar and join us.

Have a wonderful week,

Laura Amen, HPC President

Havens Winter Festival this Friday

Thanks to all who attended last Friday’s HPC meeting.  I hope you learned something new and enjoyed hearing from Randy Booker about the district’s goals through the beautiful infographic he shared (there is one posted in the Havens office so check it out!).  Calendar update:  there will be no HPC meeting in December so please remove the 12/18/18 meeting from your calendar.  Hope to see many of you at our January meeting.

My family and I are looking forward to the Havens Winter Festival this Friday, December 7, from 4:00-6:00 in Ellen Driscoll Playhouse.   It will be an fun afternoon of community service, arts and crafts, snacks, holiday shopping and celebrating the season with one another.  I’m excited that there will be students from the middle school (older siblings of Havens students as well as Piedmont Middle School leadership students) coming to help with activities.  If you haven’t already done so, please register to attend. It’s FREE, but we appreciate a headcount for snacks and crafts. Also, please visit our volunteer page to help with a shift. We need you!

Register: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=qihksziab&oeidk=a07efvqnss0a7a614f6

Volunteer: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084aaca828a13-havens1

Members of the SCRIP team will be at our Winter Festival selling gift cards and See’s Candy (please remember to bring cash or check).  However, if you can’t attend the Winter Festival you can still purchase SCRIP for your holiday gift-giving needs.  SCRIP is an excellent way to raise funds for our schools at no extra cost to you.  Simply purchase gift cards at face value through our SCRIP reps, and money comes back to our schools.  It really is that easy. For more information, contact our dedicated team at:havensscrip@gmail.com.

Lastly, thank you to all grades 1-5 families who have signed up for the Holiday Giving Program of the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay.  Your generosity is very much appreciated.  Big congratulations to Ms. Mortan’s class – they were the first to fulfill the wish list for Agara Family!  While many other lists are near full, there are still some lists that need much more participation. Please consider supporting these families in need in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties as well as the underserved preschools in Oakland that have been assigned to Havens.  It’s not too late but time is running out! If your particular class list is full or if you are a TK or K parent looking to participate, please reach out to me and I will make sure you have all necessary details to be a part of this wonderful program. The deadline is this Friday, December 7th.

See you Friday,

Laura Amen, HPC President


A Message from HPC President Laura Amen

I hope you all had a fun and restful Thanksgiving break…because as a very busy December is almost here! 

Reminders for the Week:

Our (rescheduled) HPC meeting is THIS FRIDAY 11/30 at 8:35 am in the Havens Library.  If you haven’t attend one this year, please join us.  You will hear from Principal Anne Dolid, HPC Committees, Superintendent Randy Booker and PUSD’s Facilities Director.  It will be a full and informative meeting.

We have kicked off our annual Holiday Giving Program with JFCS.  Grades 1-5 classrooms have now received details about the family or pre-school that they will be helping this season.  Detailed instructions and sign up information was emailed to all on 11/17.  I encourage you and your children to discuss and participate in this wonderful giving opportunity.  Gifts can be delivered to your child’s classroom anytime 12/3-12/7 (please not earlier) or brought to the Havens Winter Festival on 12/7.  Thank you Havens community for making a difference in pre-schools and families in need.

Looking Ahead:

We are busy planning the annual Havens Winter Festival which will be held next Friday, December 7th from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Ellen Driscoll Playhouse.  Here are 2 easy things to do in preparation for the event:

  1. Register to attend: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=qihksziab&oeidk=a07efvqnss0a7a614f6 (the event is FREE but a headcount is greatly appreciated for crafts and snacks)
  2. Visit our volunteer sign up page: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084aaca828a13-havens1  (opportunities range from helping to decorate before the event to overseeing a community service or craft table – WE NEED YOU!

I hope you will bring the entire family to come and celebrate the season with other Havens families.  During the event you can participate in community service activities organized by SERVES, drop off your JFCS Holiday Giving Program gifts (wrapping station provided for those needing to wrap their family gifts!), make winter crafts, purchase See’s Candy boxes from the SCRIP team, check off some of the gifts on your list by purchasing Havens merchandise, and enjoy a snack and some cheer with our Havens community.

Take care!

Laura Amen, HPC President

I hope you and your kids had a great time at the Havens Halloween parade.  A hectic morning for sure – nothing like trying to serve breakfast and spray paint someone’s hair all at the same time – but I’d say it’s well worth it as the parade is priceless.  I can’t believe that November is just hours away and, as is always the case at this time of year, there is much going on around our school…

Our Minted.com fundraiser starts tomorrow and runs through the end of November.  All details (including our own promo code) are included further down the newsletter.   Please support our school and encourage your friends, family and businesses to do the same if they also order holiday gifts and cards.   

Our Fall Book Fair runs November 7th-9th this year.  All details including info about TWO food truck options for family night, a bake sale and parent coffee are below.  Remember to bring your holiday shopping lists (there will be great books for all ages) and give the gift of books to those you love.  Your support goes directly to the purchase of books for our library.

While we are on the topic of holidays (I know…sorry!) I’d like to recap for parents what we do to thank both teachers and staff in December (as well as in May at the end of the school year).  At Havens we use the Class Funds that are collected through the Piedmont Store to give a “group” gift (SCRIP gift cards) on behalf of all of the students in the class.  Pooling our funds this way allows you to make one contribution per child and ensures that your gift is taken care of by HPC. That definitely helps lower the stress of the season!  Not only does your child’s teacher receive this group gift, but also teacher aides, administrative staff, teacher specialists, custodial staff etc. We want to make sure ALL who work at Havens realize that we appreciate all they do.  

  • If you have already contributed to your child(ren)’s Class Fund(s), thank you and there is nothing else you need to do.
  • If you haven’t yet made a contribution I encourage you to do so NO LATER THAN 11/9.  To make your contribution, go to www.piedmontstore.com and once logged in click on the “Havens Class Fund” icon for each child.  
  • Not sure if you already donated?  Log in to your account and check your account history.  Please note that you will have a separate account history for each PUSD student in your family.
  • Prefer to donate by check? You can leave a check made payable to HPC for $65 per child in the HPC mailbox in the office.  Just make sure to note your child(ren)’s name(s) and teacher(s) in the memo line.

Laura Amen, HPC President


Have you checked out Havens on Instagram (@havenselementary)?  If not, go check it out! You will see wonderful moments taking place at Havens, such as: lunchtime art, teamwork in math class, welcome of kindergarteners by the 5th graders, classroom art projects reflecting our school values and even a video of our instrumental music program.  Speaking of our music program, did you know it is supported by the Giving Campaign? This program and many others depend on our contributions to make them a part of our children’s education.  Thank you to all the families who have already made their annual donation, but we have a long way to go in order to reach our goal of 100% participation from Havens families. To learn more and to donate visit: www.piedmontedfoundation.org/donate/giving-campaign.

Havens participated in California’s Great ShakeOut last Thursday.  I’d like to give thanks to our staff and teachers for participating in this annual earthquake drill to ensure we are regularly reviewing and updating our emergency preparedness at school.   Also, thanks to the parents who came to school to simulate pick up of their children – testing each step of the process is critical to success. Lastly, thanks to HPC’s Emergency Prep/Safety Chair, Amy Gurvitz, for all of her help during the Great ShakeOut. You are a superstar volunteer!

Shoo the Flu went very smoothly last week thanks to our parent volunteers who were willing to give of their time:  Alissa Welch, Amy Gurvitz, Laura Edeen, Judy Lin, Jean Takazawa, Shannon Mitchell, Jen Hong, Cori Kau and Dana Lung.  The nurses were very caring and sweet with the kids…and they worked fast too! We finished way ahead of schedule. But to be honest, the real stars of the show were the kids.  Some didn’t even think twice about it, others entered with bravery written all over their faces and others showed such caring for one another as they circled around their friends who may have been otherwise too scared to follow through.  Our Havens values at work!

Take care,

Laura Amen, HPC President


September did not go down without a fight!  This past weekend was hectic and full to say the least.  I hope you and your family were able to join in some of the community events around town.  Thanks to all who helped make the Harvest Festival possible:  Anne Hawkins and Jennie Stomberg (our Havens Harvest Festival Reps), each of the scarecrow leads and their many helpers who made Scarecrow Alley a reality, as well as parent and student volunteers who gave of their time on Sunday.  Our elementary schools are lucky to have all of you.

As mentioned in last week’s Highlights, Shoo the Flu is on Friday, October 19th.  We need parent volunteers to help with picking up and returning students from classrooms, helping to manage flow of children waiting for their turn and passing out stickers (you know stickers make everything better!).  Adult volunteers can get their own flu shot that day.   Please use this link to sign up for a shift:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084AACA828A13-shoo

Lastly, our October 23rd HPC meeting (7:00 pm in the Havens Library) will provide a forum for all four School Board candidates to answer questions.  This is a unique opportunity to hear directly from these candidates and I’m striving to make sure the questions reflect what is important to you – our parent community.  Please take a moment to think about this and submit an anonymous question for consideration here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M9BHX8V

Take care, Laura Amen, HPC President

Giving Campaign & Fun Weekend Events

It was great to see and feel all the excitement yesterday morning around our campus as The Giving Campaign, Piedmont’s largest fundraiser for our schools, kicked off!   However, the campaign is so much more than balloons, purple shirts and popsicles.  You should have received a letter at home yesterday explaining all the information about the campaign and why our schools need our support now more than ever.  Thank you in advance for your financial support.

Six Havens parents who know how critical our support is and who are dedicating themselves to making sure our schools have the necessary funding for our children to receive a great education are:  Giving Campaign Co-Chairs Cortney Allen and Nicki Gilbert, Havens Reps Joy Nieman and Mia Tindle, New Parent Lead Martha Joerger and New Parent Committee Havens Rep April Gruber.   We are BEYOND lucky to have so many of our fellow Havens parents volunteering on our behalf for the Giving Campaign.  Reach out to them, ask them questions and of course thank them!

 Just a quick reminder of things to come this weekend:

(1)   The FallFest Challenge (a mega-group strength and balance class) is on Saturday, September 29th from 9:00-11:30 am on the Havens Playfield.  There will be on-site care and a special yoga class for younger attendees.  Register here

(2)   The Harvest Festival is Sunday, September 30th from 11:00 am-3:00 pm in Piedmont Park. Come play carnival games, win a delicious treat at the Cake Walk, bid on a scarecrow (thank you parent leaders for making the scarecrows a reality for all of our grade levels) and much more, all while helping support our elementary schools.  There are still volunteer opportunities so please let me know if you can help.  I’ve got my myself, my mom, my middle schooler and one of my 4th graders signed up to work carnival booths, sell tickets and supervise!  These events don’t happen without us and it’s not too late to volunteer. Just email me and I’ll point you in the right direction to sign up. 

Take care,

Laura Amen, HPC President