Universal Transitional Kindergarten

Walgrove’s Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) program includes Early Transitional Kindergarten (ETK) with Ms. Biolatto — Ms. Biolatto is progressive and playbased and is a Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) math coach for the District — and Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten (K) with Ms. Zeena Pliska. Ms. Zeena is a climate activist, a published author, and Regio-and Forest Kindergarten-inspired.

Both teachers prepare younger students socially, emotionally, and academically for Kindergarten.

All students who turn four by September 1, 2023 (and hence 5 by September 1, 2024) are eligibile to enroll.

From Ms. Zeena:

I believe children are born with intrinsic wisdom. We have the obligation to hold it in protected space so it can blossom and to extend the child’s reach so it can expand.

I believe that learning is an act of joy and children are a barometer of the health of our society.

I believe that the result of a formal education should be the ability to solve problems and explore conflicts, think critically and analytically, connect with other people, living creatures as well as the earth, communicate and express our stories, ideas and needs and most importantly to adapt with fluidity and fluency to whatever may come our way.

Unfortunately, I understand the historical context of the purpose of public education. However, I remain hopeful because I adamantly believe in access and equity.

I believe that school is a place where you go to learn within community. Not necessarily to attain the same information and knowledge as everyone with you (we all come to the table with different prior knowledge) but to learn with and from others.

I believe in the power of play (think of anyone you know who has lost their passion for life and they’ve probably forgotten how to play).

I believe in learning through wonder, exploration and discovery (think of anyone you know who is a lifelong learner and they’re probably driven by wonder, exploration, and discovery rather than thinking of learning as a task that must be completed).

I believe that all academic disciplines can be distilled to one word, “relationships.” Reading and writing can be described at their most basic level as one relationship after another: symbols to sounds and sounds to meanings at its most basic definition. Words to sentences, sentences to paragraphs, all leading to the relationships of ideas. Writer’s ideas are in relationship with the reader and so on. Math is the relationship of quantities to each other. Science is the relationship of matter to matter, elements to elements, temperature, chemicals, reactions, etc. Without relationships, social studies and history would not exist. There is no academic discipline that escapes the study of relationships. Therefore relationships are my primary focus. It is my intention to create a culture of listening and an environment that nurtures relationships. We strive to make learning visible so that we may see the relationships between students and ideas and design experiences that capitalize on those relationships.

I believe that Emotional Intelligence is a stated goal and the ability to develop and nurture relationships through nonviolent communication deepens our experience together.

I believe that academic skills are the tools to communicate and understand the communication of others that we learn in context and in a multitude of ways relevant and individual to each learner. I believe that these tools of communication whether they be reading and writing, numeracy, or scientific notation help us tell the stories of our lives. Our stories connect us with others and form the relationships of which humanity exists.

I teach the common core and California State Content Standards using student inquiry and documentation of students’ voices to drive instructional design. Utilizing a variety of materials and symbolic representations to make their learning visible, I am better able to understand individual thinking processes to meet students’ cognitive and social emotional needs.

Most importantly, I believe that it is my job to listen to children