Charter News • March 27, 2020

Fortitude. ... It means fixity of purpose. It means endurance. It means having the strength to live with what constrains you. ~Hilary Mantel


Dear Charter Families,


A huge thank you and commendations to all of the fabulous Charter staff and wonderful families for shifting into this crazy Coronavirus world with such grace and collaborative ideas.  It was the quickest change in systems and teaching as we know it in all the years I have been working in education. I am so impressed by the way our staff has rallied together and maintained their personalized communication and teaching with all of their families from day one of our Distance Learning. 


I know, without a shadow of a doubt that the Charter staff has the professionalism and commitment to make this year unique and special for your students.  Everyone jumped right in and took the challenge to heart. Collectively, we believe we can help make this unique and challenging year remain positively memorable for our students and families.


I am sure that you read the latest from Dr. Bruton about schools staying closed (currently) until May 6.

In partnership with the Public Health Officials, the Santa Cruz County schools will be closed through May 6, 2020. With this date, 5/6/20, please remember that it is a date that may not be realistic based on the unpredictability of the future for the health conditions in the area. We will not restart school if there is any risk to students, families, and staff. Because the future is incredibly unpredictable at this time, we are stating that school is postponed until at least May 6, 2020, with probable extensions. 


The teachers will continue to support you and your students within the format and expectations of the program you are in.  They all jumped in with near warp speed in their communication and creative ways of teaching and supporting your students. to help maintain a consistent routine, they are checking in with them at the same time and days they would see them in the classroom; giving assignments, having large and small Zoom or Hangout meetings so that students can collaborate and talk with each other.  I’ve read some fabulous poems recently; some positive, some sharing the sadness, some sharing the frustration that the kids are feeling. Students are creating and sharing with their classmates their beautiful artwork, videos, recipes, outdoor projects, to name just a few of the students' work thus far.   


As we move forward, we will continue to do what you know we always have done: we will remain in communication with each other and remember that Empathy, Kindness and staying aware of basic human needs are always Charter's #1 Priority within our teaching.  


We know that each family has different levels of complexity in their daily lives.  We have introverts and extroverts, morning and more afternoon starters, families with students in all grade levels and needs.  We will keep the importance of flexibility in mind as well as adding levity, creativity, outdoor exercise and student-initiated projects as much as possible.


  • All phone calls will be directed to Danelle and I and we will answer them as soon as we can.
    • If students have Chromebook issues, please contact Danelle. She will continue to find the best time to connect with you so that you can check out a loaner, if you need one.
  • We are still maintaining the application window dates and lottery dates for QHIA and Nature Academy.   Please share with any interested friends that The Nature Academy video presentation is now online. A huge thank you to the NA teachers who worked with me and learned Zoom well enough to create a recorded presentation to replace the information night that had to be canceled. It may not be professional quality but it gets the Nature Academy basics across well enough.
    • If you have a sibling of a current student you want to enroll, please fill out an application for them.  They have priority but they must have an application in on time.
  • Zoom meetings are the happening thing!  
    • Robin will be adding additional weekly support to help our new Living and Learning 24/7 Together dynamic.
    • I have weekly meetings with Laurie Bruton and the administration team, Charter leaders and the County Superintendent. I do not want to duplicate information or create any confusion by sharing too much or doubling up and adding to the overwhelm that we are already experiencing so please read all emails they send you!
    • Danelle, Janet and I have daily Zoom check-ins in the morning. Once I got past the shock of seeing myself on the screen, I recognized how beneficial it is to see their lovely faces along with their voices as we share our stories and plan our day together.  
    • Terri and I, and Robin and I, have weekly meetings and are discussing ways to best support you in the months ahead.  

From Danelle: I want to express to all of you how much I appreciate each and every one of you and I’m so proud to work with such a dedicated, passionate, innovative group of people.

I have been reading teachers' communications and have enjoyed the enthusiasm everyone has shown with their students and families as they tackle online distance learning/homeschooling. For some of our families and students this is their first time ever to do this and for the seasoned veteran families of homeschooling I’m sure this has presented some new challenges on a different level, but from responses that I’m seeing through emails it seems to be going very well. Our families are wonderful, our staff is phenomenal and together we can weather this interesting time. Start each day with a grateful heart!

From Janet:   Thank you to all of our parents who without hesitation got your attendance ledgers into me quickly, while dealing with our situation at hand.  I can not tell you how appreciative I am. I'm so fortunate to work with such a wonderful and supportive community. Thank you to those that are turning in completed applications too!


I am sure that all of you are dealing with daily challenges with this social isolation order that abruptly brought all families into an environment of living and learning together 24/7. Add that to shifts in economic uncertainty and the threat of the covid19 virus around the corner and we have the unique opportunity to really test our moral fortitude, to strengthen our individual and collective positive characteristics.  Please remember that this community is a strong one that has already shown the ability to reach out and support each other in ways big and small.


Of course, there will always be glitches in our road ahead but I have always been able to find a silver lining in a glass half full...even in my darkest personal tragedies. A community united can do great things.  And the SLV Charter in this SLV District can do possibly transformative things within these changing times. We will continue to use precautions through social distancing but we are far from having to stay distant in our support and communication with each other.


More to come.  Blessings to you all,




Read on to hear from Robin, our Mental Health counselor, to hear some of the unique activities our programs are offering remotely, and what the SLV district and Santa Cruz County is doing to support you and your family.



REMINDER: Application deadlines for The Nature Academy

Families please share with all your friends that the Nature Academy lottery applications are due Friday, April 3rd by 3pm.  We will be accepting applications for Nature Academy via email to our Registrar, Janet Hendricks at [email protected]. Janet will note the email date as the submission time and reply to each person that she has received the completed packet.

If you do not receive a confirmation email from Janet that she has received your application please email her for a confirmation.


Applications received after the application deadline will be added to the 2020-21 school year waitlist.

Please contact us with any questions by phone 831-335-0932 or 831-336-5167.



From our Mental Health Counselor: Learning and Living Together at Home


Hello families! Well, here we are.  Strange, isn’t it? I’ve been through the entire spectrum of feelings with my family over the past several days, and all we can do is keep getting up and showing up for each other every day. Some days are not very productive, and others I actually feel like I have a handle on things, until I don’t - after all, we are just humans working with humans!


I want you all to know that I am available during my normal hours! You can email me, set up a video or voice appointment for you and/or your child, or check out all of my articles and resources on the counseling page in our Charter website! 


Many of you are adjusting to the homeschooling life for the first time.  Some of you are struggling with financial, emotional and relational changes. Some are worried about family and friends who are at risk and maybe even out of their reach.  I want to congratulate all of you for doing your best to juggle it all, even when it feels like a tornado!


I grew up working with horses, and because they are social animals, have learned that in some ways they are a lot like us.  For example, when you add a new horse to a herd, there is turmoil amongst the herd members that can last for hours...sometimes days!  The same can happen when you take a horse away from the same herd. All of the horses scramble around to reorganize their roles, positions and spaces in the pasture. Even when you change the routine of exercising a horse, they can do this.  Any change in proximity to each other, whether closer or farther away, causes them to react sometimes very dramatically - squealing, gnashing their teeth, running away or after each other, being moody or bossy! This is because they are connected in ways much deeper than we can see - they depend on each other for survival.  They use each others’ boundaries and presence to know that they are safe. I see this same thing happening in family systems. Sometimes it is very subtle and “under the surface”, sometimes very obvious.  


We are all adapting to changes in proximity, space and roles in our families right now.  If you find yourself feeling “out of place” or on an emotional rollercoaster, it could be that you’re adjusting to a much bigger set of changes than can be easily observed. People have left “the herd” (teachers, friends, coaches and mentors) and people are “returning to the herd” (parents staying home instead of working, siblings) in different ways. Your family is trying to re-regulate into a new “normal”.  The good news is this - as social animals, our family systems are always in a process of finding “equilibrium” and balance. Just simply being aware is your most powerful tool - which leads to empathy and the ability to zoom out and get a different perspective.


Here is a great mindfulness activity to do as a family to resonate together and build empathy and connection:

  • Mindfulness exercise:  Singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat in a round.  Singing rounds is a wonderful exercise in mindfulness and listening to one another while also maintaining independence and boundaries.  Divide your family into three groups (a group can be as small as one person). Group 1 will begin singing the song. As soon as those of you in Group 1 have finished with the first line, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, Group 2 will jump in singing the song from the beginning as Group 1 continues with the song.  Group 3 will come in after Group 2 has sung the first line. Try to sing it for three rounds! You can add in hand motions, and sing with your own dance! (watch how your family navigates the communication around this. There might be judgment, frustration, pure joy, and attempts to correct each other. It’s all good stuff!  Let it just happen. This is how families learn to connect in new ways! The most important ingredient is empathy and a loving watchful eye).

More things to consider: These are all things you can practice without buying or acquiring anything!  It’s so amazing that our most powerful tools are free and available at any time. 


Breathe.  Take a deep cleansing breath - opening the shoulders, into your chest, and then down into your belly.  Breath deeply into your legs and even into your feet. Let your breath fill your mind and clear away all of your thoughts just for a moment. Remember when your children were babies? Babies breathe with their entire bodies! They cry and laugh from head to toe!  Over time, we sometimes close off parts of our bodies to the breath and our breathing can get shallow, denying important oxygen and attention to all parts of our bodies.


Be gentle.  With yourself first and foremost.  With each other. With your pets. With your neighbors. And the cashier at the store or the nurse at the doctor’s office.  Some people call this a form of healthy surrender. We’re all dealing with this the best we can and we’re often learning from our mistakes.


Be open.  Find your safe people and tell the truth about what’s going on.  Vulnerability is the most powerful medicine we have! Social media is full of illusions and can be a dangerous place for comparing our insides to others’ outsides. 


Be a witness.  When I’m working with people in therapy, I know they are growing when they can talk to me about their experiences from a “witness perspective” - as if they’re just watching it all from a safe place in their minds.  We all have this safe space. Go there and watch. I like to imagine I’m one of those crusty old muppets on the muppet show who are just laughing at the absurdity of the show!


Be creative.  Imagine it all working out! Imagine that your family connects in new ways through all of this, and you may be just experiencing “growing pains”. Imagine fumbling through your conversations and gradually getting to a place of productivity and strength.


The Internet

I’ve noticed that in times of certainty, many people reach for the easiest way to get validation for whatever they’re doing - posting on social media. In a Symposium I recently attended about the internet and anxiety, I learned that the “like” in social media creates a small surge in dopamine in the brain, temporarily relieving anxiety, but only for a very short period of time.  That “like” can be very powerful when there is fear or uncertainty in our lives, but the relief is only temporary


On the first academic day (Wednesday), my son was 'all smiles' in his Google Hangouts. He was finally connecting to his teacher and classmates, and I imagined it was enormously comforting to communicate with his peers online. However, it didn’t take long for the drama to start seeping in.  Many of these children have not spent this much time communicating on the internet, and very quickly chat groups and Google Hangouts can become a boundaryless jungle of words. Without the nuances of context, body language and visual feedback, it’s hard to know how the recipient of a message is really responding emotionally to it. And with little consequences, sometimes the messages get edgier and unkind.


Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource!  They have a “Family Media Contract” and now is a good time to sit down as a family to discuss the dos and don’ts of the internet. 


They list 4 tips for parents for helping their children interact safely online:

Give them the right words.

Kids learn about appropriate verbal and physical communication from watching you. But online conversations can be invisible. Occasionally, narrate as you're writing texts or social media comments when your kids are in earshot.

Learn about their worlds.

Tweens and teens have unique communication styles -- especially online. As much as possible, keep an eye on what they're saying and doing online to understand the norm in their worlds. Don't police everything they say, but keep an ear out for aggressive trash-talking, hate speech, rude images, or anything hurtful. If you see stuff that crosses the line, speak up. Kids need to understand that their words have consequences.

Empathize with the pressure to overshare.

Tweens and teens might feel pushed into sharing an intimate photo or words for different reasons: a dare, fear of damaging a relationship, or just because "everyone else is doing it." But this one is non-negotiable. Tell them that you understand how bad it can feel to disappoint a friend. Then help them imagine how much worse it would feel if a private picture were shared with their whole school.  Remind them that they are not “bad” for falling into this, but simply learning (sometimes the hard way) about the dangers of the internet and oversharing.

Develop their instincts.

Help kids learn to trust their guts so they can suss out creepy, risky, or otherwise unsafe online situations. Playact a few scenarios: What if someone asks to take a conversation private? What if someone asks for your phone number? What if someone invites you to a private chat room? Be aware that some kids (even "good" kids) will explore iffy stuff online out of curiosity. But the minute they feel uncomfortable, they need to shut things down.

Also, it’s really helpful to come up with a step by step plan for managing hurtful acts online.  In our household, we have a few steps we always take when we recognize a hurtful comment or image (which includes making sure you always get a screenshot and make sure it includes the apology if it happens).

I am here for all of you as a resource for support.  I will continue to write articles and offer activities and ideas to ponder during this really weird time in our collective lives!  Don’t hesitate to reach out via email at [email protected]

Robin Bates, LMFT



From our SLVUSD Nurse Health Corner by SLV Nurse Sarah

We recently learned that school will not be in session and continued learning will be in place until the earliest of May 6th, and possibly into summer. I understand that many families have supplied medications to their students' school sites and that refilling prescriptions may be difficult at this time. If you would like to schedule a time to pick up your students' medications, please contact me via my email below. 

  Like many of you, my family is trying to figure out our new schedule and routine with shelter in place and continued learning.  We have found it helps to set daily goals and have a school day schedule which is linked here to give you an example. As we familiarize ourselves with this new way of life, I wanted to offer a few ideas...

  • Be kind and gentle to yourself and others. Do what you can and be alright with it
  • Make that schedule for your family, routines and goals will help us stay grounded
  • Have fun with your family. Cook together, play board games, journal, do puzzles, play and listen to music, do art and read a lot!
  • Get outside! Go for walks, play games, spend time in the garden, get your Vitamin D
  • Get plenty of rest, have good hygiene (wash hands frequently), eat healthy foods

Please refer to the WHO and CDC for new updates and recommendations as the situation is evolving rapidly. Stay informed.   CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention       WHO World Health Organization   I’m here if you have questions, please reach out for help if you need.

Sarah Dahlen, SLVUSD School Nurse

[email protected]



From our Student Nutrition Department: SLVUSD CONTINUES TO PROVIDE STUDENT MEALS DURING SCHOOL DISMISSAL/CLOSURE  FOOD SERVICE  Student Nutrition Services will be providing breakfast and lunch to all K-12 Santa Cruz County students. 

Meals can be picked up at Boulder Creek Elementary School or the SLV Cafeteria located on the tri-campus between 9:00am and 11:00am daily, Monday through Friday. Meals for the weekend will be provided on Fridays. Students do NOT need to be present to be able to pick up meals. 

There will be a variety of meals provided each week and this is a good excursion for students to help provide a midday break in their home study schedule. The drive through is clearly marked and the food will be delivered to your car for this take-away option.

You may contact the Student Nutrition Services staff at 831-335-5384 with any questions.          Sincerely, Alisia Munoz-Roja


PARENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Important Parent Involvement: Next meeting TBD:  We now have a strong group of parents that are consistently coming to these meetings.  This means that our discussions and plans can more easily be deepened and synthesized. We were able to review our LCAP survey that is sent out to our parents and refine the questions.  I do still plan to send this survey out, as it is important to hear everyone’s feedback as we plan next year.

Expect to receive the survey in the weeks to come!

Thank you to Kristin Ghbeish, Thuy Nguyen, Chana Landi, Jacquie Spracklen, Kelly Bradford, Lee Dean, Lauren Reedy. Any of these parents are happy to share updates to fellow parents during the parent meetings at the various programs. 

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




What’s Going on in Our Charter School? ..little snippets


CRHS: Congratulations to our 21 student-athletes whose season has been cut short. We are very proud of your CRHS representation and dedication to your sport.  Congratulations to: Baseball; Aden Rich, Luke Egner Football; Noah Giosso, Noah Rosales Basketball; Amelia Sizemore Soccer; Andrew Enns Track and Field; Kaitlin Siegel, Chris Bond, Ben Miller Cheer; Tyler Olson-Diehl Softball; Amelia Sizemore Volleyball; Luke Egner, Tyler Olson-Diehl Cross-Country; Kaitlin Siegel, LaBrandon Laswsha, Andy Matessa, Ben Miller Swimming/Diving; Willow Pezone, Andrew Enns, Mason Schertz Waterpolo; Sydney Giosso, Isabella Ross, Andrew Enns, Mason Schertz, Tennis; Lucas Doyle Wrestling; Conner Briscoe and Scott Reese. * our apologies if we missed placing your name on this list. Keeping six-feet apart please do not let this latest world health event stop you from pursuing your passion. Keep running, swimming, shooting backyard hoops, tossing a ball with your parents/siblings, or hitting those tennis balls against your garage door. You are superstars!  Thank you, Erin Walsh, Autumn Gombatz, Kaitlyn McMurry, Isabella Ross, Dalainey Cardoza and Loius Lobaugh for their dedication to this year's 2020 yearbook. Having had their Yearbook class stop so abruptly, the team worked to get as much as they could finish independent of one another. The yearbook is terrific! 


CRMS: Mural Art: Yesterday in class the kids discussed several ways that we could move forward with working on the mural project together, even as we honor the Shelter-in-Place order.  I asked the kids to talk about the ideas with you so that they can report out what seems doable to the group next week. Next Thursday we'll offer an art activity that will get the kids outside. Thank you to all who helped your kids get online this week!  Also, thank you for helping remind them to check their school-issued emails and join the Google Classrooms that Mark and I created. Now I will be able to email the week's class schedule and links, as well as documents, out to all the kids directly. I will send out information with next week's class schedule, including links to access my classes. In that email I will also let you know what items to gather together, if possible, for the different activities. Thank you to all who helped your kids get online this week!  Also, thank you for helping remind them to check their school-issued emails and join the Google Classrooms that Mark and I created. 


Nature Academy:6th, 7-8th gr: Please, note that we will be starting at 8:05 with our Google Classroom check-in, and our afternoon checkout will be at noon (also on Google Classroom). Tech-free Wednesday Spend at least one hour doing activities in categories A-D, plus toss in some time from category E, for a minimum of 5 hours spent. Yep, your full school day today will be exploring without tech. May mix and match in each category, but try not to jump too quickly from activity to activity. This is a good opportunity to develop focus and intention.  How you will share out your experiences from your day: Take a photo to represent your highlight of the day. We will be sharing our class photos during our Zoom class meeting on Thursday.


Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): Wow! We are embarking on uncharted territory for the next few weeks. You will receive “QHIA Weekly Previews” instead of the weekly updates that used to go out on Fridays. This is where you will receive info that is important for all QHIA students and families, as well as a growing list of resources and even some fun artistic challenges. Marie and I will send out separate emails to our 6th and 7th/8th grade groups with specific assignments for the week that include group chats times for our book discussions.  Thanks for sending us pictures so that I can create an Animoto video of your home activities.


Quail Hollow Homeschool: David and I will be checking in with each of you as to how we can best support you during this time. If we are still on Shelter in Place after Spring Break, we will look into having an online platform in which students can see us and chat together. Family Tree Project: The final piece of our family history learning-Please see the attachment in the program newsletter and have fun! Fraction Math with David Please see the attachment in the program newsletter and build away! Here is a link to a fun and easy craft project the whole family can do and use: Stress Balls (the directions call for flour, but cornstarch works best)


Fall Creek Homeschool:  I hope everyone is weathering these changes well. Please reach out to me if there is anything I can help you with. Meanwhile, I will continue to send out lessons and activities that sort of simulant what we would have been doing in class together on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We will share photos and short videos of what you are doing with the children to the rest of the class. Regarding our botany research reports and presenting them If your child has already presented their work to the class, please read this email but do not respond at this point. Eventually, you will get an invitation with a link to join in an online ZOOM meeting to watch and listen to your classmates present. This participation will be entirely voluntary.


MtIS: It has been wonderful to talk to each of you individually this week. What an amazing time for relearning the fundamentals of how to rally for ourselves and support one another! When I go out for food or a walk, I'm noticing a deeper sense of connection and sensitivity among strangers (from our 6ft distance), a reawakening of basic acknowledgment, consideration and kindness spreading through town. I sure hope this has been your experience too! I want to encourage the children/yourselves to write stories about your thoughts. It's a wonderful way to self regulate, be aware of the power of imagination and PLAY with feeling moving through us.




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.)

  • Monday, April 6-10: NO SCHOOL, Spring Break  (yep, we will all be having a staycation this year)
  • Monday, May 25: No SCHOOL, Memorial Day
  • Thursday, June 4: Last Day of School