The WPRA focuses its efforts on those areas of greatest concern to our members, our neighborhoods and our city. In some issues we take a leadership position, while in others we work with other interested groups.


San Rafael Elementary and WPRA Launch Neighborhood Volunteer Programs
(From WPRA Newsletter, Summer 2009)

This Fall, San Rafael Elementary School (San Rafael) and WPRA will launch a series of community-based volunteer programs geared towards enriching the academic experience of San Rafael students, and providing a lecture series for parents that address many of the issues facing parents of preschool and elementary school children. A sampling of the programs include the Student Enrichment Program, the High School Mentors and Readers Program, and the Parent Lecture Series.

Student Enrichment Program
Throughout the 2008 school year, the WRPA’s quarterly and weekly newsletters invited residents to volunteer at San Rafael. The response was positive, including several residents who signed up to read with students for one day, and ended up coming back several times a week throughout the year. Resident Nino Sutcliffe initially volunteered to assist with the Upper Grade Book Club, and then agreed to teach a 7-class art history course to 4th-6th grade GATE students, which culminated in a field trip to the Norton Simon Museum.

Inspired by Ms. Sutcliffe’s efforts, the WPRA Education Committee and San Rafael Principal, Alyson Beecher, created the Student Enrichment Program. The goal of this program is to provide a mind-expanding, educationally enriching, experience for San Rafael students by tapping into our many knowledgeable neighbors. The WPRA is searching for volunteers from a variety of fields, including science, medicine, architecture, ornamental horticulture or gardening, the arts (dance, music, drama, culinary), government/civics/politics, law, finance and business, to teach San Rafael students about their respective professions.

There are no defined parameters for classes taught by community volunteers – they can be a single one-hour class or a series of classes throughout the school year. Volunteers are encouraged to work with Principal Beecher to create a class that fits their expertise and availability. To date, the response has been excellent. Confirmed programs and volunteers include: a moot court program chaired by Judge Larry Crispo (Ret.); a mediation/conflict resolution program chaired by former California Attorney General, John Van de Kamp; landscaping classes taught by Kicker and Betty McKenney, Constant Gardeners of Arlington Garden; an art class in water colors taught by local artist, Joseph Stoddard, whose work is displayed on the WPRA website; and a dramatic writing workshop by “Snoopy” producer, Michael Grace.

High School Mentors and Readers
Many of the local high schools urge or require their students to devote a certain amount of time to community service. San Rafael hopes to provide another alternative for area high school students (both public and private) to fulfill their obligations by providing the following volunteer opportunities:

  • 6th Grade Mentors: Applications are currently being accepted for 35 student mentor positions. Volunteers will mentor 6th graders on success in junior high and beyond. All mentors will participate in a one-day training program put on by Principal Beecher. Expected time commitment is 2 hours per month during the school year.
  • Readers: This program will serve all San Rafael students in need of a extra reading practice. Volunteers will be paired with one or more students, and will be asked to read with the students during 15-30 minute sessions. Expected time commitment is 2 hours per week during the school year.
  • Math Field Day Coaches: Every spring PUSD holds its Math Field Day competition for 4th, 5th and 6th graders in the District. Hoping to improve upon past performances, San Rafael is looking for 12 high-achieving high school math students to serve as coaches. Practices will take place weekly beginning in October.

Parent Lecture Series
Beginning in October, the Parent Lecture Series program will provide monthly lectures from area professionals speaking on topics aimed at parents of preschool and elementary school children. The lectures will take place in the San Rafael auditorium, and will be open to San Rafael parents and residents of the WPRA service area. Potential topics include: disciplining children; obesity and nutrition; current issues in pediatrics; the internet and social networking sites; preparing children for junior high and high school; getting to know your local library; and, things parents can do to facilitate pre-reading and reading. Confirmed lecturers include pediatrician Anne Marie Fanselau, MD., psychologists Andre van Rooyen, Ph.D and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D, and Christine Reeder of the San Rafael Library. Childcare will be provided by San Rafael.

If you are interested in volunteering at San Rafael, or if you would like more information, please contact WPRA board members Kenyan Harbison, or Catherine Stringer,