San Lorenzo Valley Charter school provide invaluable educational opportunities to students, families and the community.
As a 4th generation Santa Cruz County resident, pioneer home school mom of the 1980’s, 15 year veteran teacher of the traditional classroom, host teacher to 30+ UCSC Cal Teach students considering a teaching career and current new teacher induction mentor I want to strongly endorse the work of the programs in the SLV Charter School. Not all students thrive in a traditional school and need other options. SLV Charter provides the means for ALL children and young adults to reach their full potential and become vibrant productive members of society. My nephew and niece are prime examples of the successes that grow from the unique opportunities provided at SLV Charter. Keep up the great work!
My children participate in two different SLV Charter programs, Fall Creek Homeschool and Coast Redwood Middle School. Fall Creek Homeschool is a K-5th single room classroom that meets two days a week and has just over twenty students. Coast Redwood Middle School is a 6th-8th single room classroom that also meets two days a week and has a bit over twenty students. Both children also take advantage of the all charter events and SLV Homeschool classes that are open to additional enrollment from the rest of the charter.
A regular classroom was never an option for my older son since he was working at second grade level or higher in all subjects by the time he was considered old enough to start kindergarten. He started his school career in a neighboring district where he was allowed to skip a grade and work with older children in a very small class environment. Sadly, the program he was in changed dramatically making us have to find another option that would fit him. His teacher got in contact with Rhonda at SLV Charter, all of the bumps were smoothed out and he joined Coast Redwood Middle School as a 5th grader participating in the 6th grade program, giving him the equivalent of a full two grade skip. It was a perfect fit for him both academically and socially. He is allowed to work at his level and pace, for example giving a fifteen minute PowerPoint presentation on the cosmology of the beginning and end of the universe.
My youngest son is on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. When it was time to start school there was no way he could have thrived in a regular school classroom due to both his social and physical issues. The two day a week program at Fall Creek was just enough for him socially and emotionally and, since we are homeschooling, he is allowed to go at his own pace academically which is much faster than a regular classroom would allow. I am also allowed to function as his medical aide until he grows out of some of his physical issues which allows him to feel comfortable while he is working to get his body to function properly.
The most important thing to me and the biggest bonus for both my children is that the students and teachers in the various SLV Charter programs are very open minded and supportive of individual differences whether they are personality differences or educational differences. Both of my children would be considered “strange” or “outsiders” in a regular classroom environment and would probably have to deal with bullying or teasing on a regular basis. They have experienced none of this in the SLV Charter environment. In fact, several of my older son's classmates seem proud to have a kid like him in their classroom and my younger son is becoming one of the popular kids in his class, something that I can't imagine ever happening in a different environment. The programs in SLV Charter have allowed my children to thrive and continue to love learning, something I will always be grateful for.
By Sonia Zeringue Cruz
Published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, June 2013
We are swiftly becoming a hybrid society. We have hybrid families, and hybrid cars, buses, and garbage trucks. We can even follow the latest in hybrid aircraft projects by Boeing and NASA. So, I’ve been thinking, how many families know about hybrid education?
Some families love traditional education, some hate it, and some don’t know of any other option. My children have predominately experienced traditional public education and some of them had a segment of Montessori or a segment of private Christian education. Of course, each child is different and educating them individually is a challenging prospect for parents. I thought about what worked in the past or at present, and more often about what was not working. As a result, I was not sure how to make adjustments that would meet our family’s ability to educate our children and so, I just stayed with the program. It was not until my eldest son wrote a position paper for his Honors English course, did I even consider the thought of homeschooling.
Let me be honest, I had NO interest in this form of education because it was completely foreign to me and my background. I’m not sure that my teenage son had much interest in our perception of homeschooling either. But it was clear that the public education model that he was performing so well at was burning him out at a very young age. He held a 4.0 GPA, played several sports, participated in a community service organization and enjoyed the musical challenges of band, and he was at school a lot! When he was home, he was simply eating, doing homework, practicing his instrument, studying, or - at long last - sleeping. I saw his spirit dying amidst exhaustion and deadlines. Missing the chitchats of his younger years and witnessing a young man aging far too early, I was willing to do whatever it took to change that. And he was certain he did not want another year of getting on a bus at 6:30 a.m. and getting home after 5:00 p.m.
After some research, we found a model that we thought we could try together – a Charter Home School Program. Moving into a new area and school district as a result of employment really opened the doors of opportunity to explore another approach to education. Luckily, we found a high school charter located on the local high school campus of our school district. The foreign concepts of this Charter Home School raised many, many questions that were quite thoroughly answered by the Supervising Lead Teacher. A plethora of options include on-site classroom courses, online courses, courses at the traditional high school and community college, courses through occupational programs on-site or off-site as well as independent studies and/or contracted learning models. After much discussion, we decided program participation would provide an opportunity to decompress and to explore some areas of interest that were not available through traditional programs. And so, it was the birth of our hybrid approach to education.
Our model includes one part “traditional high school classroom”, two parts “charter classroom”, one part “adventure classroom”, three parts “home school classroom”, two parts “sports” and all of it Charter! With a supervising teacher working closely with us to ensure graduation requirements are met and university preparations are satisfied, we are pleased with our hybrid model. As with anything new, it is not without its challenges, but overall this year has provided so much for our family. With the demands of an out of state move, an out of the country mission trip, and some tough family losses, this school year was successful only because of the flexibility a charter home school provides. My son was able to connect his mission trip experiences to his Geography and Cultures courses in a very personal way. He was able to start his Associates Degree by concurrently enrolling in college math courses at the community college, and imagine my joy in witnessing his inner light shining brightly while he explored a hands-on science course through the Regional Occupational Program. Through the charter, we experienced smaller class size, individual attention, exploration of interests, external activities, and educational variety in a smaller learning community. Our hybrid model provided a path where my son still challenged himself academically, enjoyed high school sports athletically, and reignited his passion for life and experiences by allowing him to breathe and to be refreshed because of the time he had at home.
Such a hybrid approach to education is truly customized to fit any family. Without question, our family will continue exploring the charter options and various models for our other children. Who knows, maybe one of them will explore aviation and offer Boeing or NASA some tips on hybrid models!
My daughter, now 17, has always been a confident student - happy, healthy, social, with no learning disabilities at all. As she reached middle school, she began to develop anxiety regarding the school regime - early mornings, homework, and relations with multiple teachers. I encouraged her to work through this, as it was my thought this is the "real world" and it's not always going to be easy. Well, after several unhappy years, her anxiety increased to the point it was time to readdress alternative education. We enrolled her in to Coast Redwood her Junior year...and it was the best thing we could have done! My daughter thrived on the expectation that she was responsible for her own schedule and school work. She blossomed as a student and as a young adult. She had a very successful year.
As her senior year approached, she decided she wanted to have the "full senior experience" which meant having her senior portrait in the yearbook and walking during the graduation ceremony with the friends she'd been going to school with her whole life. If she continued with Coast Redwood, she would miss out on those things, so she re-enrolled at SLV. However, after her first week of school, my daughter realized she had made a big mistake and wanted the freedom Coast Redwood offered her, and she quickly returned!
Thank you Coast Redwood!
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