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Charter News June 8, 2018

posted Jun 10, 2018, 4:10 PM by Rhonda Schlosser   [ updated Jun 14, 2018, 8:41 PM ]

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”

~Winston S. Churchill

Dear Charter Families,

The end of each school year always feels like a ride down a river; sometimes rushing, sometimes feeling a bit stagnant, sometimes with a wind shifting the currents so we have to collectively steer against the sudden onslaught - exhilarating, exhausting, and oh so worth it for all those involved once it is over.  Hooray, summer vacation is very near: Thursday, June 14th is our last official day

The academic and social lessons our students learned have been continuous: sometimes hard earned, sometimes learned with a flow that made them seem effortless.  There isn’t any one of our Charter programs where we didn’t have a student - or three or more - whose academic and/or social-emotional needs added an additional layer of work that, in the long run, has given them a greater appreciation to the lessons well learned.  To those students who went the extra mile; we doubly commend you.

I continue to be impressed with the level of commitment and integrity our teachers have for their job, and to the parents who work so hard alongside their students, helping them through the final days. Thank you to everyone. Thank you to the Charter support staff and greater district teams who help our Charter programs.  It has been another rewarding and productive year.

A special thank you to the teachers and support staff who are moving on at the end this year.  It is inevitable that we have to say goodbye to someone nearly each year. As hard as it is, what makes it easier is that 99% of the time, they are leaving for a good reason, never because they are unhappy.  We will miss them all, wish them happy trails, and hope they come back to visit in the years to come.

Jen Sims: Mental Health Counselor.  Though she is not leaving the district, she is transitioning to work full-time at BCE.  We will miss her as a consistent voice and support to our staff, students, and classroom development.  Luckily we know she is just a skip down Highway 9 away.

Kim Fleming: Teacher at our Mountain IS program.  Kim stepped in when the program’s founding teacher retired a couple years ago.  This year, Kim rebirthed the program and solidified it into a place where all students and families feel Safe, Seen and Supported. Under her heart-filled guidance the kids and homeschooling families flourished and the message has been resounding: Mountain IS is a great place to be!

Rory McKee: Academic Counselor for CRHS and our 8th graders.  Rory was hired as our Academic Counselor when Jen was hired as fulltime counselor at SLVHS. Rory was a great fit for us: as a Nature Academy graduate, he shared the values we hold and had a level of scrutiny and personal commitment to connecting to each student that further added clarity and consistency to our counseling systems.  

Gillian Blair: Quail Hollow Homeschool teacher.  Gillian has been working with our K-5 program, team teaching with Katie and working as a collaborative team member with our other K-8 teachers and programs for many years now.  Enough years to leave a lasting imprint for her passion for learning, especially in mathematics! We are grateful that she came out of retirement to share her creativity with so many hands-on activities and to infuse the love of learning into another generation of students and families.

Carter Milhous: teacher and co-founder of the Nature Academy program.  He taught in the district for 30 years, 20 in the Nature Academy.  Words cannot begin to express the imprint he has made on the many many students that his teaching and field experiences has touched, the many many parents and families whose relationships and lens on learning was forever changed by working with the foundational Life Skills he so believed in.  And of course to the teachers and staff members who worked alongside him; we will miss his knowledge, wit, and playful dedication. Not only has he touched the lives of countless students with his caring heart, deep knowledge of a variety of subject areas, and catchy sayings, he also leaves behind a large garden with working solar panel and thriving pond, a greenhouse, and an 18-hole disc golf course.  


NOTE: All newsletters will be archived on our website if you would like to confirm any information.  Specific pertinent information can also be found on our website so if you have an opportunity, please give it a review.

From our Counselor, Jen Sims:  School is where it happens

My reaction upon being hired by the San Lorenzo Valley School district 3 years ago was…surprised. Also relieved, because I had been working at the New Leaf and found it to be way harder than any other job I have had, but mostly surprised. At that point I hadn’t spent too much time with kids since I was one myself, although I had some experience teaching them. Most of my experience in the last ten years was doing individual therapy with adults. I applied for the job because I had been getting interested in mental health at schools, and more specifically student development theory (more on this later). I guess the surprise was that I didn’t realize that I would be the school counselor to younger children. It’s worked out though, and I’ve learned a lot over the years. Most of all I’ve learned that school is where it happens.

Back to Student Development Theory – it has three guiding assumptions:

  • Each student is a different individual with unique needs

  • The entire environment of the student should be taken into account for and used for education

  • Student has a personal responsibility for getting educated

I look at our schools through the lens of student development theory and it helps me to understand the place in a more grounded way. Things can get rough at school and while it’s our job to make sure things don’t get abusive, like bullying, there is something to be said for learning how to manage conflict. It’s painful to watch kids in distress but this is what they came here to do, to push up against each other and the school rules and constraints again and again as they keep learning about their own existence and co-existence with others. If we keep teaching them, I trust that they will keep developing more and more skills to deal with each other and their own emotions. School provides endless opportunities for that, because school – any kind, any classroom, is where it happens.

Every day at school – whether it is a two-day or five day per week situation – every day in that community provides our students with academic demands and challenges. That is what is mostly measured in data and that is what determines a school’s ranking. There’s so much more unofficial learning going on at school, however, things that can never be measured but are important and have lifelong impact. Children come to school to try it all out – who am I? What are relationships? What are my boundaries? What are your boundaries? What offends me? What do I like? How do I feel about my peers, teachers, the world? Do I like people or are they draining? The pursuit of identity is a daunting task and we are their faithful witnesses. School is the perfect stage for the drama to occur because it sets the boundaries that ensure things can’t get too out of hand. Providing a safe place for students to get through this part of life is part of every single staff member at this district’s job – from the principals, to the IT people, to the teachers, to the custodians – all of us. School is where it happens.

This year I had the opportunity to write about, think about and discuss concepts related to empathy every month with staff and students. This gave me the unique opportunity to visit classrooms, nearly all of them, and spend time talking with and getting to know them. I gained a deeper understanding of classroom culture and how each group has a distinct dynamic or flavor. No classroom was conflict-free and all classrooms had beautiful expressions of empathy, compassion, support and understanding. Through this process I gained more empathy for everything we are doing here at school to get along and make it work. I see teachers working to incorporate social-emotional skills into all aspects of learning and being flexible in addressing individual needs, I see parents showing up to work with and advocate for their children, I see students making great choices every day that help us move forward as a community. And even though we focus on the students, in actuality everything we’re doing is part of the bigger picture of all of our growth and development. At school we are all learning a lot from each other, all the time, like it or not. School is where it happens.

Next year I will be transitioning out of the charter school over to Boulder Creek Elementary. Of course I have mixed emotions. I love my work with the Charter School students and staff. I love dreaming and scheming with Rhonda to bring mental health to the charter school in a great way. Moving to Boulder Creek means that I can bring more consistency to one school, and as it turns out I do get along with younger students. I hope you’ll always feel free to contact me about anything - Jen

SLVUSD opportunities: SLVUSD is now hiring for the following positions. Positions are permanent unless indicated. If you are interested, please apply on Edjoin,  Contact the Human Resources Department (336-5193) if you have questions about any of the openings.

Boulder Creek Elementary


Special Ed Instructional Assistant (part-time)

San Lorenzo Valley Elementary

Education Specialist Teacher (SDC)

Instructional Assistants (all part-time, hours vary according to position)

K-3 Music Enrichment Teacher (temporary year to year)

San Lorenzo Valley Middle School

Education Specialist Teacher (ED-SDC)

Secondary Dean of Students (Temporary)

San Lorenzo Valley High School

Mathematics Teacher

Spanish Teacher (Temporary-1st semester only)

Girls Varsity Basketball Coach (seasonal)

Girls Varsity Water Polo Coach (seasonal)

SLV Charter

6th-8th Grade Integrated Arts Teacher (60%, temporary)

Mental Health Specialist (40%)


Maintenance Specialist-Electrician

We are also looking for substitute custodians to work at all sites.

Community Events: The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is currently soliciting input from students, parents, and staff at the San Lorenzo Valley schools on the Highway 9-San Lorenzo Valley Corridor Transportation Plan. The RTC is specifically seeking feedback on the area of Highway 9 around the schools.

Please consider taking this survey and providing your valuable input on this important community project:

For more information on this project,


There is a coupon code for all students of Charter who wish to participate, at SLV it is at for the summer Splash and Dash and the code is “student” it is good for $10 off


Our popular summer reading program for young adults will run June 1st through September 5th this year. We're challenging teens to read 6 books--at least 3 from our recommended reading list (see below) and up to 3 of their choice. Complete the challenge and not only will you have read some terrific books, but you'll earn excellent rewards: A $5 Bookshop gift card, a free scoop from the Penny Ice Creamery, a free slice from Pizza My Heart, and a special prize from the Santa Cruz Warriors!

How to get started: Come to Bookshop Santa Cruz to pick up a summer reading bookmark from the Young Adult section or download the pdf below. You are going to want to hang onto this because it's also your reading tracking form that you're going to use all summer and turn back to us before school starts. Pick out your first book and start reading!  All summer reading books are on display at Bookshop Santa Cruz.  Download the bookmark!

What you get to read: We have put together a great list of 6 recommended books. To complete the challenge, you get to choose at least three of these recommended books and up to three books of your own choosing--for a total of 6 great books--to read over the summer. See the list below.

How to complete the challenge: Just bring back your filled out bookmark, making sure to note your name, age, and school before turning it in, by September 5th. Then you will get to collect your rewards and proudly post your name on our Summer Reading wall.

Bonus: If you liked the book you read, let us know by writing a short review (50 words or less) about why you liked it. For each review, your name will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card to Bookshop Santa Cruz! Reviews will be posted in the Bookshop for everyone to read.

Extra bonus: The school that has the most students participate will also get a gift certificate to buy new books for their school library!

Recommended Reading List Books:

The Pearl Thief (Paperback) By Elizabeth Wein

When the Moon Was Ours (Paperback) By Anna-Marie McLemore

Lucy and Linh (Paperback) By Alice Pung  

Salt to the Sea (Paperback) By Ruta Sepetys

You're Welcome, Universe (Paperback) By Whitney Gardner

All American Boys (Paperback) By Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely

What’s Going on in Our Charter School?  ..little snippets of some of our programs:

Coast Redwood HS: It has been a flurry of activity the last of couple of weeks as on-site classes have ended and our seniors have been preparing for graduation. Anticipation and excitement has been building and the final crescendo of graduation has come! Congratulations to all of our graduating seniors: Brynna Beddell, Jacob Burgess, Jason Erwin, Justin Erwin, Daniel Halberstadt, Isabella Hayes, Cassandra Heron, Myles Laurin, Ben Murphy, Harmony Perna, Portia Simmons, Cameron Snider. They all have great plans for their post graduate years ahead. We wish you all the best!

Coast Redwood MS: We have ended our year with fundraising activities with the Redwood Mountain Faire,  end of year conferences and wrapping things up in the garden in preparation for summer. The kids did a great job selling their handmade lotions at the faire: articulating information about our classroom business and why we use the ingredients and packaging that we do. They sold $363 of product and distributed all of our brochures and the business cards  It’s been a year of lots of learning, friendship and fun activities for all. Our advancement ceremony and party will be Wednesday the 13th at the Trowbridges.  Thank you Rachel and family. Enjoy the summer!

Nature Academy: All of Nature Academy is buzzing with excitement as the end of the school year ends. Days full of work completion and fun filled year end classroom activities. We are looking forward to our 8th graders Advancement this next week on the 13th. Congratulations 8th graders! We know you will do well, in ay of the schools you are transferring to.

Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): We had a bittersweet week as students are already experiencing all of the emotions that come with the end of the year, and friends transitioning to other places next year. They are such a thoughtful, reflective group of young people. We celebrated our end of the year and advancements with a potluck pool party. Congratulations to the recipients of our 2018 Peer Awards: ~Oral and Written Communication: Julia Deraco ~Thinking Analytically, Critically, and Practically: Naia Cantor-Baker and Amaya Gordon ~Healthy Self-Awareness and Social Relationships: Andy Matessa ~Social Responsibility and Integrity: Elliot Lariz ~QHIA Spirit Award: Abena Reisewitz-Oteng

Quail Hollow Homeschool: Our last days of class have been so much fun! K-2 circled up for walking the number with friends showing off some groovy dance moves. 3-6 shared out their summer plans and talked about their amazing grandparents and great-grandparents and all they have done and shared with us. We all chipped in and became scrubber bees to leave our classroom all cleaned up for the summer and our yearbook was a success, once again.  Our end of year advancement celebration and swim party was so much fun! Have a fabulous summer!

Fall Creek Homeschool: Our end of year meetings are in full swing! Our yearbook has gone to print and is going out to families at end of year meetings. We will be saying our last goodbyes for the summer at our paperwork picnic and pool party on June 13th!

Mountain IS: We are coming to the close of our school year, busy with end of year conferences. We will be saying our final farewells for summer to each other at our pool party. Happy Summer!  A huge thank you to Kim Fleming for creating such a wonderful year.  Thanks to Beth and the parents too. Our upcoming events are: End of Year celebration June 11.

Dates to remember: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s Field Trips and class events.)
  • June 13: Nature Academy (9:30-12:15) Coast Redwood MS (3:00-7 pm) advancements

  • June 14th:  Last day of school