Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

I wish there were a national contest for the most outstanding Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. I’m certain that the parents of students at Rolling Hills Country Day School would come in first place. Every. Year.

Going way beyond creative, in the past 5 years these parents have turned an ordinary auditorium into mysterious colorful Morocco, a charming Farmers Market, an all-star Ballpark, a clever Eco-Friendly environment, and a delightful Asian restaurant …

And now – into a National Park!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100! The Centennial will celebrate the achievements of the past 100 years and kick off a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks and for communities across the nation.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Camp Rolling Hills Country Day

“Please join us for a woodsy afternoon luncheon at RHCDS National Park in honor of our Teachers & Staff and the 100th year celebration of U.S. National Parks.

So grab your hiking boots and camping gear as we adventure and explore the beauty of the great outdoors.

We’ll gather around the campfire for stories and s’mores.”

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Celebrating Our National Parks

Wearing our nifty new Outdoor Adventure T-Shirts, we arrive at the “national park” to find a fabulous Glamping-Style Buffet, and upon further exploration we find that our campsite features S’mores Around a “Live” Campfire, a General Store where we can take our cool new backpacks to fill with all the supplies we’ll need on our adventures.

These include a picnic blanket, canteen, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, lip balm – all embossed with the Camp RHCDS logo. Also included  – a neat little Pelican LED flashlight. Thanks to the generous parents, we’re equipped and ready to enjoy the great outdoors now and all summer long.

To ward off hunger along the trails, we are supplied a red bandana which contains a s’mores kit. Plus, we visit the Happy Trails booth to customize trail mix for the hike, choosing from a wide assortment of dried fruits and nuts and seeds. And finally we visit the Bear Country Bakery booth for bear claw brownies, muffins, and cookies plus hot coffee for energy. We definitely won’t go hungry on this trip.

Come, take a hike with us and check it out!

Maybe we’ll even spot a bear???

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Farmers Market Theme

Well, they did it again. The amazing parents of the students at Rolling Hills Country Day School hosted yet another over-the-top Teacher & Staff Appreciation Luncheon. This year’s theme was extra charming ~ a Farmers Market! Their dedication, creativity, and attention to detail blew all of us away.

A few weeks before the event, we received a handmade invitation in our mailboxes, inviting us to “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” at the RHCDS Farmers Market. And to “Come Meet Your Local Farmers.” The invitation cleverly proclaimed “Crafting Kids Since (our inception) 1961.”

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Welcome to the Farm House

On Teacher Appreciation Day, we arrived to find the school auditorium completely transformed into a colorful organic-dining farmstead. Draped over the back of each chair was the gift of a reusable cloth shopping bag, printed with an artsy RHCDS Farmers Market label. In the bag, a fresh baked baguette with plenty of extra room to shop the market after lunch and fill it with a bounty of local fresh fruits and vegetables.

Menus were printed on paper bags so that after dining, we could take the bag to visit the various market stands and fill it up with sweet treats and goodies. Lastly, we would stop at the fresh flower stand “Oops-a-Daisy” to hand-pick our favorite blooms and have the talented moms arrange them into beautiful bouquets to take home.

The enchanting table decor included rustic wooden centerpieces overflowing with vibrant vegetables, soft white linen tablecloths and blue striped tea-towel napkins, silverware tied with twine, milk-bottle beverage containers with jaunty red striped straws. Wooden pallets with woven and wire baskets of fruits and vegetables adorned the walls. We felt pampered…and comfortable.

The parents sported snappy t-shirts with Country Day logos branded for each particular farm stand: Farmhouse Crepes, Coffee Stand, Original Kettlecorn, Bakery, Pick UR Own, and Flower Stand. These thoughtful parents consciously considered the dietary restrictions of some of the teachers – offering many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free menu choices.

Following the fabulously fresh veggie-centric luncheon, we stopped at the coffee stand for a custom-brewed cup of java and some chocolate covered espresso beans for a boost, then “shopped” the Farmers Market – giddy with delight to take home potatoes, onions, carrots, home-grown citrus fruits, apples, pears. Even the centerpieces were included in the “shopping” experience – eggplants, artichokes, bell peppers and more. Our little paper bag menus were full of cookies and pies and peanuts and popcorn.

Let’s ride our bikes over to RHCDS and I’ll show you their re-creation of a Farmers Market…inside a school auditorium!

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon: Welcome to Morocco!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon: Welcome to Morocco!

Welcome to Morocco!

Welcome to Morocco? We all have our favorite day in the school year – mine is by far the Annual Teacher & Staff Appreciation Day. One look at the 2013 Baseball Theme Luncheon here and 2012 Eco-Friendly Luncheon here and you’ll know why I absolutely adore this event! Beyond the fabulous lunch and enjoyable camaraderie for faculty and staff – I’m amazed and inspired by the artistry, the ingenuity, and the talent of these parents!

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon: Welcome to Morocco!
Each year the generous, creative parents of children at Rolling Hills Country Day School transform our auditorium into a delightful oasis in the middle of the workday.

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon: Welcome to Morocco!
A couple weeks before the event we receive an invitation to “Fly Away on a Magic Carpet for a Colorful Afternoon of Moroccan Food, Tarot Card Reading, and Henna Tatoos.” And while we know the general theme of the event, the decor remains a surprise until we walk through the auditorium doors. We’re always dazzled and downright blown away when we enter the room! This year, the transformation was simply incredible!

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Teacher Appreciation Luncheon ~ Baseball Theme! Home Run!

root beer float
teacher appreciation luncheon invitation

Take me out to the ball game! We all have our favorite days in the school year – mine, Graduation Day and the Annual Teacher & Staff Appreciation Day. Each year the generous, creative parents of children at Rolling Hills Country Day School transform our auditorium into a delightful oasis in the middle of the workday.

A couple weeks before the event we were thrilled to receive an “admission ticket” to a DAY AT THE PARK accompanied by a box of Cracker Jack – a baseball-themed luncheon, and we were invited to wear our favorite team jersey. How fun! And while we know the general theme of the event, the decor and menu will be a surprise until we walk through the auditorium doors. We’re always dazzled and amazed when we enter the room!

The attention to detail is what impresses me most. This year featured charming picnic tables with astro turf runners with giant baseball vases and handcrafted daffodil arrangements. Four “Olde Fashioned Stations” were set up around the room – Party Favors, Root Beer Floats, Ball Park Candy & Cupcake, Popcorn. Fresh popped corn was offered with assorted toppings – truffle salt was by far the most popular. Several moms baked specialty cookies, which were made into ice cream sandwiches, a hot seller! The buffet table featured a bounty of picinic-style sandwiches, salads, and sides. Last but not least, one dad was the pretzel & peanut vendor, how adorable is that??

While some parents graciously serve the food and set the tables at the luncheon, other parents are in the classrooms with the children so teachers may have an extended lunch period to relax and enjoy the fabulous meal. We are so very fortunate to work at an outstanding school with such a dedicated parent population.

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Luncheon in the Library

Each May, Mrs. Parker recognizes all the parent volunteers for their time, energy, and dedication in helping maintain the library at Rolling Hills Country Day School by hosting a fabulous luncheon in their honor.

Library Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

Mrs. Clifford works her usual amazing magic by setting out such a charming buffet on top of the lower bookshelves. The menu consisted of Mrs. Parker’s curried chicken salad, mixed baby greens with Parmesan, sunflower seeds and vinaigrette, rolls served in an adorable picket fence corral, the perennial favorite deviled eggs, cream puffs, chocolate eclairs, flower-shaped sugar cookies, fresh strawberries and lemonade.

The buffet was decorated like a precious garden with flowers and seed packets and books (of course).


Mrs. Parker has been the beloved librarian at Rolling Hills Country Day School since 1983. Her daughter, Leslie, started attending the school in 1982. A year later Mrs. Parker came on board and has been here ever since. And Leslie has gone on to graduate from Georgetown and receive her MBA from UCLA.

Mrs. Parker’s specialty: Curried Chicken Salad. She makes it exactly from the recipe found in Gourmet June 2002 issue. There is a synergy in this combination of ingredients. Everyone loves it, year after year. Chicken, curry, yogurt, lime, honey, ginger, red onion, mango, red grapes, cashews…intrigued? Go here for the complete recipe. You’ll be glad you did!





Library Before and After

I love before and after photos. In the summer of 2005 it was my pleasure to update the library at Rolling Hills Country Day School.

It is amazing what color can do to enhance a space. The remodel consisted of a new paint palette, new computers, bookshelves, lighting, carpet and rug, furniture, and other design elements. I worked with Mrs. Parker to make sure we met the needs of the students while preserving some of the historical features in the library. We retained the old card catalog (no longer in use) and installed special shelving for Mrs. Parker’s antique books.

Those big red leather chairs continue to be a magnet for the children. Sometimes we’ll find three of them sitting in one chair, reading one of the books that Mrs. Parker has painstakingly chosen for the library. It is an awesome space, warm and inviting, enhanced by Mrs. Parker’s enchanting personality and love of children and books.

Alas, there were no Legumes at the Library Luncheon, but don’t let that stop you from submitting your fabulous legume-centric dish to the global event taking place the entire month of May. My Legume Love Affair, go here for details!

And remember, as a special treat to one of the lucky participants in My Legume Love Affair, there is a GIVEAWAY. A book, how apropos! A World of Dumplings – Filled Dumplings, Pockets, and Little Pies from Around the Globe by Brian Yarvin.

Do join us, won’t you?

Evelyn Dawn’s Potato Crusted Salmon

Evelyn Dawn’s Potato Crusted Atlantic Salmon
Sautéed Vegetables and Lemon Dill Sauce
Gina Lee’s Bistro, Redondo Beach, California
THE RECIPE CAN BE FOUND HERE.


Evelyn was my grandmother-in-law.
She passed away at 93 years of age in the year 2000.

As a tribute when Evelyn passed, the proprietors of Gina Lee’s Bistro, Scott and Gina Lee, named this dish after her. They keep her memory alive daily in their fabulous restaurant, as waiters are constantly asked by new patrons, who is Evelyn Dawn and why is the salmon named for her? They are quick to tell about Evelyn; an independent woman ahead of her time, with impeccable taste, a successful businesswoman, friend, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and educator of hundreds. Scott and Gina keep a framed photograph of Evelyn in the restaurant.
Evelyn was often asked about the secret to her vitality at her age. When someone would ask her age, she would tell them the truth, and they wouldn’t believe it. She would reply, “Do you really think I would lie and increase my age?” She had a great sense of humor too.
Scott and Gina said of the salmon dish, “This is a crowd favorite. Lots of people remember “Miss Dawn” who among other things founded Rolling Hills Country Day School. She came in the restaurant nearly daily and always had the salmon professing that the omega 3 fatty acids kept her going at top speed. We’ve had former students and teachers come in and marvel that she lives on our menu.”

Miss Evelyn Dawn
July 8, 1907 – July 16, 2000

Here’s Evelyn in her 90’s with a glass of red wine and a cigar!
Rolling Hills Country Day School was founded in 1961 by Evelyn Dawn who began educating children in the early 50’s. She bought and operated her first school in Manhattan Beach, California—a preschool. Seeing growth opportunities along the beach area, Miss Dawn sold her Manhattan Beach school and bought a new facility in Redondo Beach that also included two swimming pools. There she taught swimming and the ABC’s to hundreds of local children. Every year her preschool program grew and eventually she needed a site that would house her dream: to provide a high quality educational experience for children. In 1961, Miss Dawn, with very little assistance, broke ground on a beautiful piece of land on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and realized her dream of a Kindergarten through Grade 8 School, that is Rolling Hills Country Day School.
Today would have been her 101st birthday.