Charter News • April 20, 2020

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”

-Chinese Proverb

Dear Charter Families,


In talking to my staff and hearing from students and parents, there is agreement that the past week was the one where the longer-term effects of our Shelter in Place existence and living with the Covid-19 virus more deeply settled into the social fabric that is affecting students’ learning.


We are hearing both sides: that many students are feeling more stress, more worry, that they are getting tired of the distance learning, the online requirements, while others are feeling more in the ‘groove’ with this new way of learning and expanding their creativity and ‘flow’ of understanding with their work. For some families, they have been able to see some of the gifts or silver linings of this shut down: a slower pace, more positive family time, dinners and creative projects, for others there is a greater sense of unrest and conflicts arising in having to balance working from home, or having no work while supporting the essential requirements for school and home to run smoothly. 


It is important to be cognizant of the disparity there is in how students and families are able to weather the school closure and the Covid-19 shut down when we begin to think about what we will do regarding end of year grades or assessments.


I want to rest any concerns that some may have around grades or advancement next year. As L Laurie Bruton mentioned in her letter  SLVUSD will not be retaining 1st through 11th-grade students to remain in their current grade level for the 2020-21 school year at this time. However, high school students can still receive an incomplete in a class if they do not turn in enough work.


As a Charter school, we have some autonomy in our grading, but we will also stay in alignment with the rest of the District.  Yes, we are continuing to have each program give grades or evaluations, high school credits, the same as they have done in the past (based on the program).  AND, we are also recognizing that there is a need to shift/ soften our expectations this year for the last grading period. We will continue to view each student individually, holding our whole-child, humanizing approach to learning. 

  • Keep helping your student to turn in the work that their teacher expects from them.  Charter has great teachers that are deeply committed to do all they can to work with your student.
  • Yes, we want your child to remain as committed to their learning as possible and first and foremost we all know that this is an unusual time. 
  • Continue to prioritize your child’s and family’s physical and psychological security. 
  • Communicate with your teachers if you are having a difficult time completing work. We will more than likely be able to accommodate or modify work based on your situation at home.
  • Don’t forget the importance of Life Skills during this time. They can be highlighted in a variety of ways. I am sure your children use them, so please remember to appreciate your child when they make use of them throughout the days.

As for the end of year activities: 

  • We will start cleaning up the classrooms soon and scheduling students to come and pick up any items they have left in lockers or in the classroom.  Your teachers will email more about this as we finalize how best to do this while maintaining social distancing
  • We are still discussing any potential graduation or advancement ceremonies for our programs and will get back to you as soon as possible.  

Take care, everyone!


P.S.  Here is a great comment given to me that I felt some may appreciate:

“Embrace a New Normal:  On the other side of this shift, your wonderful, creative, resilient brain will be waiting for you. When your foundations are strong, build a weekly schedule that prioritizes the security of your home team, and then carve out time blocks for different categories of your work”    “Understand that this is a marathon.  None of us knows how long this crisis will last. ...The uncertainty is driving us all mad.”

“On the other side of this journey of acceptance are hope and resilience. We will learn to be MORE creative and responsive and will find light in all the nooks and crannies. We will learn new recipes and make unusual friends. We will have projects we cannot imagine today and will inspire students we have not yet met. And we will help each other. No matter what happens next, together, we will be blessed and ready to serve.” By Aisha S. Ahmad MARCH 27, 2020, The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Preparing for Next Year  Please read the letter Laurie Bruton sent on April 17th from the County schools and Charter schools regarding Preparing Grading Systems and Fiscal Impacts to Schools due to COVID-19



In Our Community: You Can Help!   With an increasing number of families experiencing layoffs, loss of wages, and escalating claims for unemployment, there has never been a more critical time to take care of neighbors and friends. We have numerous children and families participating in the school Breakfast/Lunch Program, but for some families, this is not enough. With the help of the SLVUSD staff and community, we can help many families who are struggling to put food on the table for their children. The SLVUSD staff, in cooperation with the San Lorenzo Valley Foundation for Education, established “SLV Food for Families.” This program will provide needed food and other household supplies for families across the valley. The “SLV Food for Families” will provide grocery store food cards for students and their families to help supplement their food budgets during this difficult time. If you can, please DONATE

SLV Food for Families


This is from the letter sent from Laurie Bruton on April 17th  Please read the rest of her SLV News for more information from the SLV District and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.




From our Mental Health Counselor: Solving Problems in a Strange World


Hello from Strangeville, families!


During Spring break, one night my family and I sat down to watch “The Martian”. I’d seen it a time or two before, but given the circumstances we are all in, this time the message of the movie really struck me. Here’s a guy, stuck in a strange world, inside of his little habitat, solving problems day by day to survive and get to his eventual long term goal of reuniting with his crew. Sound familiar? I was all eyes and ears! I love what he says so casually to his students at the end, “of course I thought I was going to die multiple times, but all I could do was just focus on the problem in front of me. When something went wrong, I just got to work”. When he was confronted with what seemed like an impossible situation, he just sat quietly for a while (or with some music), and then just took the first step. Problem-solving is a creative process, just like creating a painting or a sculpture. The good news is, we don’t have to know how to get to the solution before we start! There’s just as much art in just getting started.


We are all working to solve problems right now - from figuring out how to pay bills, to working online (if we’re lucky!), to staying healthy and away from viruses, to teaching our children 100% at home and with only remote support, and so much more. How do you solve problems? Do you get overwhelmed with the big picture, are you able to focus on the problem in front of you and “get to work”? I imagine we’re all somewhere right in between.


In DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), there’s a great template for looking at any given problem. As we and our children are having reactions to problems and trying to settle into some solution or action in response, consider these options from DBT (these are really great for teens who are confronted with big feelings and new problems they haven’t faced before):


The 4 DBT Problem-Solving Options

  1. Solve the Problem.

With any problem situation, you can figure out if there is a way to change the situation, avoid the situation, or leave the situation. Apply your “Martian” skills here!

  1. Feel Better about the Problem.

You can decide not to change the actual problematic situation, but to change your emotions in reaction to it. This is handy with problems with which you have absolutely no control. Insert your emotional regulation skills (mentioned in my last letter) here! Reframing, looking for the meaning, finding the benefits, and helping others go a long way in this category.

  1. Tolerate the Problem.

If you can’t solve the problem, and you can’t feel better about the problem, you can still ease some of the emotional suffering that the problem brings up. Let’s face it - many problems fall into this category. Acceptance is your superpower here! This is what your IMPROVE skills are made for!

  1. Stay Miserable.

You could choose to stay miserable. Or, you could also do things that will make the problem even worse. To choose this option, don’t use any skills! And how empowering to realize this is, too, is actually a choice!


Our main character in “The Martian” used all four of these options throughout the movie - from solving fuel and food problems, to changing his feelings about growing food and making oxygen (“I just colonized Mars!” and “I’m the greatest Botanist on Mars!”), to tolerating problems he could not change (when his entire crop population was destroyed), to feeling miserable (in the beginning, before he was ready to settle down and “get to work”).


I find myself also choosing all four of these options throughout this sheltering phase. The more awareness I can bring to the process, the more choice I have in the path I take. The power lies with awareness.


I hope you are all finding creative ways to solve your problems, as well as creative ways to reframe or tolerate the ones you cannot solve yet. We will get through this and I light up every time I think about the joy our families will feel when they are reunited with their “crew” again!


Robin Bates, LMFT

I am still available virtually during my office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.




OPTIONS FOR OUR FAMILIES:  Virtual Talent Show:  The show must go on....Zoom!

We will have a Virtual Talent Show for all charter students, parents, and teachers on    Friday, May 8 at 6pm

Participants must be available to have a "Dress Rehearsal" on Thursday, May 7 at 6pm


If interested, please fill in all of the info on this signup sheet via google doc by Friday, May 1.     All Charter Virtual Talent Show 2020

*It is very important to include all email addresses asked for on the form. If you do not provide your email, you will not receive any info important for performers.


Practice your talents! Songs, poetry readings, rehearsed skits, sleight of hand, dance creative!   *Parents and Teachers are welcome to perform too!

Questions: Please email Amber Walker [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. 

Following Spring Break, Food Service will maintain the new schedule of meal pick-up only on Tuesdays and Fridays at BCE and the Tri-campus from 9:00 am to 11:00 am with multiple days of food being provided each day. The drive-through is clearly marked and the food will be delivered to your car for this takeaway option.


You may contact the Student Nutrition Services staff at 831-335-5384 with any questions.          SLVUSD offers many THANKS to the SLV Nutrition Services Team for their outstanding service, dedication, and commitment to students.


Resources from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education: Important steps parents can take to support their child in distance learning include, but are not limited to, checking emails often for updates from your child’s school, helping them develop a new routine, creating a designated study space at home, and by scheduling breaks throughout the day. We have created a website for the Santa Cruz COE with Distance Learning and COVID-19 resources for educators and families. Please visit our newly launched resources for Distance Learning Site for more suggestions on how to support your child’s education through school closures  We are hoping to use this website as a hub to house all of our information and updates in one place. We welcome your feedback and input, and we will have a Google form embedded so that everyone can give feedback on how we can better improve the website and services to support our schools and families. 


Dates to Remember: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s class events.)

  • Monday, May 25: No SCHOOL, Memorial Day
  • Thursday, June 4: Last Day of School