Project Cornerstone

This marks the 10th year of Project Cornerstone at Los Alamitos!  Parent volunteer readers will be going into all classrooms once a month to read stories, lead discussions and share activities.  Please take a minute to read what Project Cornerstone is and why it is a valuable program for our students and our school.

Project Cornerstone started in 1999 as a community partnership with the YMCA of Silicon Valley with the goal of building and maintaining a strong climate of support for our youth to feel heard, valued and respected at school. 

The Asset Building Champions (ABC) program is the major parent engagement program of Project Cornerstone.  ABC uses a curriculum of children’s literature to teach a set of positive assets: caring, empathy, integrity, equality, responsibility, etc. Our parent readers cultivate positive connections with the students and become models for how to be caring and responsible adults.  Each book that is read in the classroom has been chosen for a specific purpose and to develop a specific asset.

Our school leadership team for the school year is Kena Vakharia, Chloe Koffas, Allison Perkins and Raquel Maloto. This year’s curriculum will revolve around the theme of EMPATHY.  Empathy is the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.  Through the books this year, students will learn how to express and receive empathy. 

We encourage you to read the parent letters from our readers that will be coming home after each book and start a conversation with your student about the empathy lessons they learned from that month’s book. We also plan to send out regular updates in Lion’s Roar, Dandy’s Weekly PTA News, and here on the school web site as Project Cornerstone progresses through the school year.  Thanks for your support!

To read more about Project Cornerstone, visit their web site at

2017/18 Monthly Lessons


This month’s ABC book: “When Sophie Gets Angry: Really, Really Angry” by Molly Bang tells the story of a young girl who is searching for ways to cope with “big feelings” like anger.

Goals of lesson:

  • To identify, acknowledge and express feelings in safe, positive, healthy ways.
  • Stop and think and choose how to react when our emotions feel out of control.
  • Be able to switch directions and make positive choices.
  • Use peaceful conflict resolution to resolve conflict and the steps to a genuine apology.

To reinforce this lesson at home:

  • Help your child identify and acknowledge how they are feeling with words. “You are frowning, is that puzzle frustrating? Can I help?” “You are using a loud, angry voice. Are you mad? Tell me about it.” 
  • As a caring adult, notice and acknowledge your own feelings. Role model the techniques you use to stay calm and in control.
  • Help your child chose safe ways to calm themselves:
    1. Do physical activity. Go on a walk or bike ride.
    2. Count to 10.  If still angry, count to 10 again and add deep breaths.
    3. Remove yourself from the situation. Take a break in a safe, quiet place.


This month’s ABC book: “Big” by Coleen Paratore encourages students to become BIG people. The author defines BIG as being bright, imaginative, healthy, helpful, and valuable members of society.

Goals of lesson:

  • Encourage students to take small steps to achieve BIG outcomes at home, school and in our community.
  • Internalize intrinsic rewards of doing things for the right reasons-Being an UPstander. 
  • Perform intentional acts of caring for others.
  • Understand that everyone can be BIG in their own way.

To reinforce this lesson at home:
Discuss ways your family contributes individually and together to making a difference in the world.  Ask your child:

  • How can I be BIG in my family?
  • What do we do to be BIG toward our planet?
  • How can we be kind to each other in a BIG way?
  • How can we be BIG in our community?
  • Name people who are BIG (famous, friends, family, in the news) and explain why.

Parents can consider reading the book: The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute by Craig & Marc Kielburger. This book focuses on simple everyday actions that can have a lasting influence on your child’s life and the lives of those around us.


This month’s ABC book: “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae tells the story of Gerald the giraffe who is able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.

Goals of lesson:

  1. Students learn about personal power and practice using their positive personal power to benefit both themselves and others.
  2. Students learn that making other people feel good is a great way to fill their own buckets, too!

To reinforce this lesson at home:

  • Create opportunities to encourage your child to try new things.
  • Offer praise for their willingness to try and practice.
  • Whenever they’re in a negative situation, help your child “switch the channel” to reframe their inner dialogue to create an “I can do it!” attitude.
  • Involve children of all ages in family decision making.

*Quick Tip: Teach your child practical skills such as how to change a tire, cook a couple of meals, or sew on a button. Well-prepared young people are more likely to feel a sense of personal power.


This month’s ABC book: “Friends to the End for Kids: The True Value of Friendship” by Bradley Trevor Greive uses engaging photos of animals to illustrate how to make friends, keep friends, and the importance of friends.

Goals of lesson:

  1. To help all students learn how to respect each other and to develop stronger interpersonal skills.
  2. To have students explore ways to be UPstanders both online and in our face-to-face world.

To reinforce this lesson at home, you can share some stories about your own friendships. Here are some questions you can discuss with your child:

  • What do you like most about your friends?
  • Do they bring out the best in you?
  • Do you bring out the best in them?
  • How do you show your friends that you care about them?
  • How do your friends handle conflict when it arises?


Success Stories

Parent Statement
“Providing a different lesson than math or science, Project Cornerstone teaches students that integrity and self respect are important as well.” – Ann Marie Kendra, Second Grade Parent.

Teacher Statement
“Cornerstone helps in building a child’s self esteem by focusing on the uniqueness of each individual and his/her positive traits.”  “As a teacher with twenty years experience, I highly recommend the Cornerstone program be implemented in all schools. It is a valuable tool in teaching children to become good and caring citizens. And the children simply love it!” – Christine Castillo, Los Alamitos 2nd grade teacher.


Powerful Parenting
Positive Family Communication
Other Adult Relationships

Asset-Building Tips
Pass It On-Mentoring
Pass It On-Youth