ABOUT US » Welcome Letter

Welcome Letter

August 1, 2023
Dear Parents/Guardians,
Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! 
I am extremely proud to announce that after 99 years of operation, Carpenter has arrived at its 100th school year.  To celebrate the long-term success that this wonderful school has experienced over the decades, we have planned a number of very special events for our school community this year that will include:  a 100th year pep rally; an original centennial art piece for our main hallway; an anniversary Movie Night; 100th school day dress up event; a time capsule collection and burial; an alumni centennial celebration; and much more.  We look forward to celebrating the past with you and your child and finding new ways to improve our school for the future. 
We will open up this anniversary school year with a brand new look.  We recently completed a five month painting project of our school’s exterior. It is amazing how freshly painted buildings can transform a campus.  We opted to go with a new color scheme so, we hope everyone embraces our new look. The paint project coincided with a tree trimming project at the end of last year.  I can honestly say that this is the best our campus has looked in my 15 years as school principal. 
In this new school year, we will carry on with our school-wide, established innovative programs:  Write…From the Beginning, Engineering is Elementary, Lego Robotics & MindUP.  You can expect to learn more about how these programs are being implemented in your child’s grade level at Back to School Night.  With the support of our teaching staff, Carpenter’s Governance Council, Parents for Carpenter (PFC), PTA and the hard work of our amazing parents and guardians, we all can look forward to the following exciting additions:
  • A new campus access control security system that will require all visitors to request entry in order to enter our office 
  • A refresh of our school’s closed circuit security T.V. system
  • Additional TK classroom teacher funded by our Governance Council (13th consecutive year)
  • Additional Resource Teacher (special education)
  • Fully installed interactive digital boards (Promethean) in all classrooms 
  • A new website and web address (carpenteres.lausd.org), currently under construction
  • A continued commitment between Carpenter’s administration and our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Committee to explicitly fight racism in all aspects of school life at Carpenter
  • An after school Black Student Union (BSU) where students can build relationships and create an additional support network
  • Updated Cell Phone/Smartwatch/Digital Device Policy that requires ALL devices (including wearables) to be stored and powered off during the instructional day
  • A new recommended school community expectation that each family volunteer (1) hour a month during the school year
  • Full-time librarian (8th consecutive year)
  • Full implementation of the Engineering is Elementary program in grades K-5
  • A second outdoor, filtered water fountain with a bottle-refilling station (6 total on campus)
  • Expansion of the VEX IQ Competition Team, an after school robotics program for grades 4-5 that will now include a 3rd grade JV team
  • The continuation of our highly popular 180∘Place - a safe, supervised playground area for students with injuries and/or students in need of assistance with interpersonal relationships
  • Full implementation of LAUSD’s Restorative Justice practices to promote and strengthen positive school culture
  • A new partnership with Youth Services and the STAR program to offer a free TK-5 Spanish Immersion after school program
Another exciting change to our school this year is the arrival of new staff members who are all very eager to become active members of our community.  I am thrilled to introduce the following individuals who are joining our staff this year.
·       Dustin Merritt –Mr. Merritt is a very experienced administrator with 28 years of service with LAUSD. He will now oversee our entire special education program.  During his career, Mr. Merritt has held a wide variety of positions across the San Fernando Valley that all focused on meeting the needs of students. He attended USC for his undergraduate studies and CSUN where he obtained his master’s degree and administrative credential.  He has two teenage children. Mr. Merritt is excited to be a member of our staff.  He looks forward to connecting with all school stakeholders. 
·       Amy Baggett – Mrs. Baggett is a veteran teacher who has 13 years of teaching experience in three different states (Florida, Alabama & California).  During those 13 years, she taught nearly every grade level from TK-6th. She is originally from the great state of Florida.  She attended the University of Central Florida where she received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education before obtaining her Master of Arts in Elementary Education at the University of North Alabama. For the past three years, she was a fourth-grade teacher at Nestle Avenue Charter Elementary in Tarzana. One additional fun fact about Mrs. Baggett is that she is also a Carpenter mom. Her daughter started kindergarten with us last year.  Mrs. Baggett will be teaching fourth-grade this year.  She looks forward to meeting her new students and becoming an active staff member with our community.
Intervention Teacher (PFC position)
·       Carissa Larsen – Mrs. Larsen is a former Carpenter teacher who left us in 2021 to become a full-time mother to her two young children. Before leaving us, she was a member of our staff for 7 years.  She received her bachelor of arts and teaching credential from CSUN. She is a master of creating a warm and nurturing learning environment for students and her organizational skills are second to none.  Her professionalism and “can do” attitude will be appreciated and valued by all school stakeholders.  We are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Larsen back to Carpenter.
Supervision Aides
·       Carla Martinez (no relation to Mr. Martinez) –I am also delighted to share that Ms. Martinez is joining our staff as a supervision aide. She has worked as an instructor for the past six years with our STAR after school program. She has a degree in Biology and Sociology from Cal State Dominguez Hills University, and she is bilingual. Ms. Martinez is highly skilled at building positive relationships with young children.
·       Maria Castillo-For the past 4 years, Ms. Castillo has also been a member of the STAR staff. She is bilingual and very experienced at working with young children.  Her calm and patient demeanor will make her an excellent addition to our staff. 
·       Juan Serrano-Another STAR employee that we have hired is Mr. Serrano.  He currently holds two positions with STAR (assistant director of the STAR program and the director of the Nova program).  He has worked with the STAR after school program for the past 8 years, and he too is bilingual.  He has proven himself to be a strong leader who will be a positive role for our students during the school day.
·       Nefthaly Rivera-Yes, we have hired (4) STAR staff members to join our staff.  Ms. Rivera has been with STAR for 1 year.  She is currently a student at Cal State LA majoring in Kinesiology.  She enjoys staying active and loves our hometown Los Angeles Lakers so you know she is quality. She is also bilingual and prides herself on being organized and strategic.
I am pleased to announce another reason for us to celebrate this year.  For the first time since the spring of 2019, we will open the school year without any COVID restrictions. At this time, COVID testing is not required to return to school.  While masks will be forever recommended for any student with persistent coughing or sneezing, they are not mandatory.  
As you can see there has never been a better time to be a student at Carpenter.  I look forward to acknowledging our school’s long history and many accomplishments during this anniversary year while we simultaneously work tirelessly to maintain our well established standard of excellence.  My staff and I are dedicated to working alongside all members of our school community to ensure that Carpenter Community Charter remains a source of pride for the Studio City community and a leader amongst elementary schools in Los Angeles and nationwide. 
 Centennial Martinez
Happy Anniversary, 
Joseph P. Martinez