Charter News  • November 22, 2019


“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue but the parent of all the other virtues.”

– Cicero

Dear Charter Families,



Congratulations to the winners of the Annual Clean Air Art Contest. Students were recognized at the November board meeting by Bruce McPherson and the SLVUSD school board members.  There were 1st-3rd place winners in 4, grade-level categories. A big shout out to our SLV Charter students who participated and to those that won.

-Mads 2nd place in the K-3 category, -Phoenix, 2nd place in the 4-6 grade, -Lily, 1st place -Lauren, 2nd place, and -Gloria, 3rd place in the 7-8th-grade category.

Their winning artwork will be on display on the first floor of the County Building, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz from December 1st to December 30th.


During this Thanksgiving season, I would like to share my appreciation for the wonderful teachers and extended staff that make up the Charter team.  They work beyond their assigned hours to support your children in our fabulous program options. These professionals are the best collaborative, creative, innovative, flexible, intelligent and caring educators I have ever worked with. They create a culture of acceptance using social-emotional awareness and research-based academic curriculum and strategies so that students can learn at the personal best. They work from their hearts and are always exploring opportunities to further their personal development in order to support our students to the best of their ability.

Kay Mendoza, Keidi Lewis, Wade Axup, Brian Heery, at Coast Redwood High School: Just 4 teachers, yet they maintain an accredited program that provides a wide variety of on-site and Independent Study classes that supports students who want the flexibility to choose how often they want to attend classes on-site, to focus on their own interests, to concurrently enroll at Community Colleges or SLVHS, even to graduate early if they are so driven. They are forever thinking about ways to create something new to enliven the students learning while honoring students' individual needs.

Marcy Reynolds at Coast Redwood Middle School: Tirelessly building a strong homeschool middle school community where students work collaborative using Design Thinking strategies, project, and problem-based learning, with regular touches of mindfulness, maintenance of their Healthy Redwoods business, lively P.E. activities, and extra field trip excursions to deepen their connections.

Rosie Hope, Rebecca Doty, Cindy Pressley, Mark Thomas, Wade Axup at The Nature Academy: This dynamic group has been teaching and collaborating tirelessly to design the next iteration of the Nature Academy, bringing in new elements while maintaining Nature Academy’s foundational aspects of Life Skills, field excursions, strong academics, self-reflection, and collaborative activities. New elements include greater outdoor time and class periods where students can explore their personal interests, strengthening their creativity, curiosity, and service-learning.

Lisa Michel at Fall Creek Homeschool: Designing thematic activities with an Art and Science emphasis, integrating parents within the classroom, planning field trips and researching extended homeschool options to complement the theme and the academic skills her students are focusing on.

Amber Walker and Marie Carrington at Quail Hollow Integrated Arts: Balancing the homeschool on-line math and science support through lab time as well as creating a dynamic Social Studies and Language Arts curriculum that is rich in Visual and Performing Arts as well as social-emotional activities.

Katie Parmenter at Quail Hollow Homeschool: Creating thematic activities with a Social Studies emphasis, she always finds a way to integrate a variety of crafts and other hands-on activities, ways strengthen mathematical thinking, as well as developing a play presentation that helps to culminate the theme in the Spring.

Amanda Bauscher at Mountain IS: Forever positive, she has created a Montesorri-based program designed to strengthen students independent progress as well as learning to work together studying about various biomes, taking music and arts classes at Mountain School, and learning how to be flexible as they share their space with the before and after school care program.

The school could not run smoothly without the extended staff: Terri Kessler, our RSP teacher; Robin Bates, our Mental Health Counselor;  Mary Zilge, our Academic Counselor; Tiffanie Meschi, our school psychologist: Paloma Vachon and Aimee Moore, our Custodians: and of course my right and other right hand women extraordinaire, Danelle Matteson, our Admin Assistant; Janet Hendricks, our Registrar; and Holly Thomas, our Special Projects support person.  And of course, Melanie Burgess, our Master Gardener, who has become another essential support for the health and education of our students, teaching them how to care for the earth through the development of our gardens.


And we could not do what we do without the support from Superintendent Bruton, the District Office team, the maintenance crew, and the staff of the District schools, whom we work alongside every day.  


Thanks to each and every one.  And to each of you, may you continue to have a restful and happy Thanksgiving Holiday.  I hope you enjoy a week with less stress, more play, plenty of tasty food and family time.


We will see you all on December, 2 when classes resume.





PARENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The next meeting will be December 10, at 10 am in the Fall Creek Charter Office  Topics will include Further discussion of move possibilities, Charter renewal, and WASC preparation, potential district bond.

Hooray!  We have finally found a day and time that works for a good amount of parents.  We had 12 parents, representing every program in our Charter attend. Our meeting included a relook at the LCAP priorities, a reminder of the Charter renewal coming next year, and a good discussion regarding the probable move of the CRHS program and the pros and cons of future plans for Charter programs in relation to the District vision and facility upgrades.  Further information will be shared in the weeks to come.

These meetings are designed to ensure we have parent input into critical documents that are the backbone of the Charter.  Yearly this committee gives input to our Local Control Accountability Plan (includes our school goals and funding) School Safety Plan, Annual Parent Survey, as well as our 5 year Charter Petition Renewal and Accreditation review.



From our Master Gardener Melanie Burgess - In The Garden:

QHIA and CRMS 6th: We discussed insects; all about complete and incomplete metamorphosis, the life cycles of ladybugs, aphids, cicadas, honeybees, monarch butterflies, crickets and praying mantis. We discussed how black bean aphids were attracted to fava beans and that was how we were going to attract ladybugs into our garden.  We will see the entire life cycle of ladybugs throughout the school year by sacrificing the favas to the aphids.  Students then harvested mint to make mint tea.  

QHHS K/1: We discussed what garlic was and explored a garlic clove, identifying all of the garlic clove parts, the shell, roots, and plant shoot.  We talked about how to plant garlic, how long it takes to grow, and in what direction and how deep to plant garlic. We discussed the same with fava beans and planted both in beds.  We took turns watering and drinking mint tea.

FCHS (K/1/2):  We discussed where our calendula went to in our garden which led us into a discussion about gophers.  We decided to plant some gopher resistant daffodil and iris bulbs. We watered the bulbs and also the compost pile.  We then sat and discovered what was inside the mushroom the students found during Tuesday's class. We discovered hundreds of worms and mites and some other insects. We discussed what the insects might be doing in the mushroom and determined they were eating it.  

CRHS: We started a pot of steamed rice together. Then we harvested kale, celery, carrots, and chives to wash and chop.  We also diced a few garlic cloves from last summer's harvest. We discussed favas beans, how cultivation dates back to prehistoric times and how they are nitrogen-fixing and work symbiotically with rhizobium bacteria, how favas are an indeterminate plant that can be harvested 2-3 times. We also discussed sowing methods, growing habits, water requirements, and harvesting/storing/use suggestions. We decided to grow two beds of favas, one to sacrifice to the aphids for the ladybugs and one to treat organically and harvest. We ended the class eating our stir fry and rice while students wrote in their garden journals.



COME JOIN US at our Winter Craft Faire, Friday, December 6, 2019!

We have nearly 50 tables of art, crafts, and food items, with something for everyone!: photo cards, snow globes, jewelry, homemade soaps, wreaths, coasters, wands, made by students, essential oil blends, exquisite quilts, knitted items, jams and other holiday food items made by parents. It's great fun for the kids to sell their creations and buy from their friends, bartering is always on hand as well


When: Friday: December 6, 2019         Time: 10:00am to 2:00pm

Where: Multipurpose Room at the Quail Hollow Campus (up by the charter office, in the Multi-purpose room)



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

CRHS: We had a career speaker, Jamaican immigrant, Winston George Whittaker, fluent in 9 languages, world traveler, master and instructor in Okinaujan Shorin-ryn Karate-Jutsu, an engineer, an artist, a building designer, and illustrator, came to speak to our students about his profession as an accomplished and industry-recognized commercial and residential architect.  It was an amazing experience for all of our students! From our counselor, Mary: UC and CSU application deadline is November 30th.  UC and CSU application support: Cabrillo is offering application support this Saturday, November 23rd.  Please see the website for more information. It will be listed as a transfer workshop but first-time freshmen are welcome to attend.  No appointment is necessary. Cabrillo College:To participate in Running Start, complete the application and orientation by the end of December.  Mary Zilge will be available from 9:00-10 before our next Tribes (12/6) and after our Tribes meeting if you have any questions. Cabrillo Honors Program- application for Cabrillo Honors opens on January 15 and closes at midnight on March 15.  Minimum 3.5 GPA, enrollment in ENGL 1A, one letter of recommendation, a copy of a transcript, and a 250-word essay are required to apply. Dual Enrollment- Spring 2020 class schedule should be posted. Registration is December 5th. FAFSA- the technical deadline is March 2nd, 2020 but it is really wise to submit before the end of the year.  Remember to save your log-on information as you will have to do this every year you are attending a post-secondary program.  Scholarships: check out our CRHS scholarship web page for local scholarship opportunities. SCHOLARSHIP PAGE


CRMS: In PE we hiked the cross country running route, planted flags to mark the route, then those who wanted to run ran the loop and those who didn’t want to run hiked it again. We debriefed the model oceans lab, looked at convection currents and watched a model of the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. Based on varying water density, this is one of the main driving forces of ocean currents around the planet. As we are continuing to follow Tim Corcoran’s inspiration to be Earth Keepers, we are transitioning to more reusable dishware, which means we need to care for that dishware, so I challenged the kids to work in small groups to create designs for drying either cups, bowls or plates using Legos. We will be testing out their Lego prototype dish rack designs at our three-ingredient potluck, then the kids will iterate their designs into a final, non-Lego based dishrack. In writing the kids worked on getting the bulk of their stories written. For art we working on designing our own personal murals, focusing on composition, subject and impact goal.


Nature Academy: 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade teachers recognized their Citizen Scholars, students that have not only excelled academically but also conduct themselves daily in accordance with the Lifeskills. Our recognition ceremony took place in the amphitheater, followed by a 6th/7th/8th-grade feast. Family members came for the celebration fun, the food, and, of course, the help. 6th grade- We are wrapping up our Social Studies and Math units. Students were assessed on Area and Surface Area skills as well as Ancient Mesopotamia. We had a wonderful Field Trip to the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.  7/8th grade-Here are a few of the essential questions and their related projects students are working on during the Genius Hour: -How can art influence people’s environmental choices?—a a watercolor art piece with a paragraph about plastic pollution. -What are some problems neurodiverse people face in school and what can be done to help?—-a research project.  -What is the meaning of life and what does that mean?—-a video with voice overlay. - What does it take to make a functional board game?—board game design.


Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): Our field trip to the Tech Museum of Innovation was awesome! In addition to the many hands-on exhibits, our students got to experience a real chemistry lab, wear goggles, create chemical reactions, and watch their lab teacher light things on fire. We loved watching and participating with our students in the hands-on exhibits! A huge thank you to our drivers/chaperones! We continued with Capoeira. Students learned more combinations of kicks, spins, and strength moves, with a particular focus on singing and clapping the steady rhythm, and the importance of the community aspect of the circle to raise the energy and “life” of the “roda”(circle) surrounding the capoeiristas in the center. He stressed the importance of eye contact and focusing on your partner without distractions.


Quail Hollow Homeschool:  We practiced a little more on the Cartesian Coordinate Plane. Younger friends worked on finding the coordinate points for some fruits and vegetables while older friends were able to find coordinates on a plane and those with more of a challenge, took on all four quadrants using positive and negative numbers. I finished reading the story, Sophia's Immigrant Diary -Hope in my Heart - the book ended with Sophia being reunited with her family after being detained on Ellis Island for over a month!  We ended our day with recess. There was an amazing game of Cops and Robbers - almost the entire class participated! Smiles were huge! Friends shared about family heirlooms that they had and we discussed our favorite traditions in small groups. We wrote about our favorite traditions and ended our day with a short reading from which we learned that many immigrants had personal possessions stolen from them upon coming to Ellis Island.


Fall Creek Homeschool: The 5th/6th graders measured the perimeter of our play yard using their own feet. Then they converted the measurements to inches using multiplication. Then they converted those numbers to feet using long division. (Some more practice with double-digit multiplication and long division at home would be supportive right now). The 3rd/4th-grade group did food webs for the Joshua Tree and related desert creatures. The K-2 went to the garden and then painted their pressed leaf discs with watercolors. We listened to the book Planting the Trees of Kenya about Wangari Maathai and how she won the Noble Peace Prize for leading a reforesting campaign in her country. We learned that Ethiopia just earned a Guinness world record for planting 350 million trees in 12 hours.

Mountain IS: We took a moment to appreciate our harvest (or the "fruits of our labor" from the past year). We reflected on how our efforts are a special 'kind of kindness' to ourselves and others. We worked in our Nature Journals with the focus on Natural Patterns. Then we explored some of the campus to find and illustrate these patterns. The children's observations, attention to detail, and fearlessness in attempting such intricate patterns was impressive! In Art, the children illustrated and cut out ocean animals and applied them to the ocean backgrounds. The children are working hard on practicing for the Winter Sing.

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.)

  • November 25-29: No School Thanksgiving Break
  • December 2:  School resumes
  • December 6: Winter Craft Faire
  • December 23-January 3: Winter Break
  • January 6: School resumes
  • January 20: NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Friday, January 31: NO SCHOOL - Professional Development Day