"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start."
-Jason Collins; first openly gay player in the NBA and in a major American team sport
Dear Charter Families,
As we move deeper into the rhythm of more complicated work and assignments, we are noticing more of the effects that students are experiencing due to the pandemic shutdown, distance learning, and evacuations that are negatively affecting their academic performance.
Many students, of various ages and within various programs, are having difficulty refining the depths of their reading, writing, and mathematical thinking, as well as communicating/dialoguing with their peers and/or teachers to clarify their needs or ideas on a topic. This is also sometimes creating difficulty in turning their work in on time.
We need your help. We often talk about the importance of our working together to support student’s learning. We use the phrase of the teacher, parent, and student being the three legs of a stool; that all need to work together to keep a solid learning base to support students as effectively as possible.
Now more than ever we are asking you to maintain communication with us about how your child is doing: what their emotional, social, and academic needs are so that we can best know how to give support. The teachers are doing a great job, but this first year back is very unique and we need a greater safety net between school and home.
In addition to a stronger level of communication with your teachers (and Robin, Melanie, and me when needed) we are also asking you to support their learning at home more consistently or with keener eyes and ears and heart.
This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Support your child’s schoolwork at home by working alongside them.
- In academic language, when children are young, the term Scaffolding is used. (Think of when you ran alongside your child and cheered them on when they learned to ride a bike or play a physical activity) For students of any age, the term, ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ is used. Education researcher Eileen Raymond says, “The ZPD is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance.”
- Help them to understand that is a critical Lifeskill to learn to ask fo help, to verbally say; “I don’t understand this. Can you help me?” We have missed well over a year of being in a classroom together. Students have been separated from their peers and may have a false sense of their ability or inability in relation to their peers and thus may need help learning to get help when needed.
- Encourage them to email their teachers when they need help. They all have office hours and are there to help!
- They may be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. They may not feel confident in what they do and do not know. If a person is feeling uncertain, stress or anxiety can shut down their ability to think clearly.
- We are not asking you to do their work! However, in addition to creating a quiet workspace and time each day/evening to study, it is totally fine to facilitate their thinking process in any subject area they are having a hard time with. This is not cheating. Very few adults do their jobs without help! (Read Robin’s article below for a more parent and mental health perspective).
- Use language that helps build a growth mindset and focuses them on developing their skills; what can be developed, not that they are good or bad at something.
- Before they start their work, take a mindful minute and breath deeply with your child. Do a quick physical activity to get the blood and endorphins flowing (Laughing together is a great own)
- Limit their screen time. All you have to do is search ‘Screen time and children's attention span’ to read as much as you like about the downside of children having too much time on screens of any kind. Please consider creating several hours of screen-free family time each day to work on school activities, talk, laugh, engage person-to-person together. This would greatly help their attention time in their classes as well.
- Make sure they arrive at school on time, with food and water for both breakfast and lunch. (More and more students are taking advantage of our Student Nutrition Services. Read below for a reminder of the ordering process)
- If your child is having a bad day for any reason, please email us that they may need to have a little extra TLC.
- We have had several students come up to our office, or seek out Robin, in the last several weeks to take a break, to settle somewhere quiet and take a few deep breaths before going back to their class. (This is good! They knew to ask for help.)
- If teachers are told that your child is having a hard day, they can help support with an added layer of understanding, reminding your child that we all have hard days.
Please read further for -Robin’s article, -Updates on our All Charter play, -Parent and Student Advisory Committees, -Middle School Band and Afterschool sports, -Nutrition and Transportation services, -Online Zooms opportunities, Covid related supports and policies.
Thanks for sharing your family and children with us.
From our Mental Health Counselor: Just Breathe
We are already moving into October! Now that students are getting into the school year, I am seeing so many students and families confronted with challenges - academic, emotional, relationship, and cognitively based.
Recently I was confronted with my own parenting challenge when a teacher (who I think is so amazing) approached me with one of my son’s homework papers. She asked me if I had read through it and how involved I was in this little assignment. I proudly announced, “Well, I made sure there was time for him to do it, and I also set boundaries and limits until he got it done. We have strategies for him to practice focusing and get the work done”. She explained to me, “It is perfectly appropriate for you to do the work WITH him. You can actually do it together!”. After feeling a bit embarrassed and talking to her further, it clicked! I had always believed that doing the work with him would be some form of cheating! When I was in middle school, I did my work with no parent involvement at all, so why would I think any differently up until now? I literally needed to unravel my old way of thinking about my children’s work and try a new approach. I’m not going to lie - it was challenging at first. But, I started using breathing techniques to stay with it and sink deeper into their assignments until it felt like I was truely with them as they chose words and ideas. And, it was amazing how quickly they thrived. For the next assignment, I became the scaffolding as my son built his essay with his own thoughts, words, and ideas. The end result was powerful.
So, yesterday, I went as a parent volunteer on a field trip to the Mt Hermon ropes course. I decided to give the course a try myself, and it literally took my breath away at the first challenge. I was wobbly, ridiculous and self-conscious, but I made it through the obstacle. As I continued to navigate the course, I discovered that if I stopped first and focused on my breathing, my approach became more balanced and creative. I could be in the “here and now” and practice positive and creative thinking to learn from each challenge. It’s amazing how quickly our bodies and minds respond when we are balanced and in the here and now.
The thing these two learning experiences have in common is my awareness of the importance of breathing. It is the very first thing we do when we’re born. Breathing is one of the few things that is controlled by our unconscious mind but can be overridden by our conscious mind whenever we need to. Our old patterns of thinking, old hurts, and traumas like to “run the show” in our unconscious minds and it is often expressed through our breathing - short, shallow breaths or even holding the breath. When we become aware of this, we can change our breathing patterns and therefore shift into a different state of mind!
Stop - Observe - Breathe
When confronted with parenting, relationships, emotional or intellectual challenges, try practicing these three things:
- Stop - take a pause for a moment, even if you are in a hurry. Even stopping for a few seconds can set your brain up for a shift in perspective. Stopping what you are doing can literally bring your brain right into the moment and become open to something new. (This really helped me on the ropes course when looking at the next challenge. I realized I didn’t need to rush).
- Observe - take an inventory of your surroundings and your situation. What are you feeling, thinking and doing? What are you interacting within your environment? Sometimes just naming what you notice internally and externally can significantly shift you into feeling grounded.
- Breathe - pay attention to your breathing without changing it for a moment. How is your body responding to what you’ve observed? Then shift into some controlled breathing - you can count to 4 as you inhale, count to 4 as you hold it, and count to 4 as you exhale, and then count to 4 as you hold again. Or, you can take a deep cleansing breath and let out a long exhale (even making a sighing sound if you can!)
There is very little we truly have any control over, especially when we’re confronted with a challenge. Why not try controlling our breath for a few moments as a practice every day? And, it’s amazing how it can help us with the challenges associated with parenting these amazing students of ours!
Robin Bates, LMFT
Parent Advisory Committee: After a long wait, we will be starting our monthly Parent Advisory Committee meetings. They will be held every 3rd Tuesday at 10:30 on-site (with an online opportunity for parents requesting to participate via Zoom). The Parent Advisory Committee is open to any and all parents who would like to learn more about the inner workings of the SLVUSD Charter School. We want to have representatives and hear perspectives from every Charter program.
Our first meeting will be: Tuesday, October 19th at 10:30. We will start in front of the Charter Administration office. This is an important year to be involved!
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 Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation review.
New This Year: Student Council. I have been asked by a few middle school students about their interest in creating a Student Council. This is an exciting opportunity that is new to us now that our programs are all on one site. There are a lot of ways that a Student Council could work and be set up; in particular in a Charter that has students in grades K-12. We have a great group of students this year in all grade levels and I am excited to hae them more actively involved in creating their school community. Before we start this new leadership opportunity, I want to make sure to hear initial ideas from the students and staff. I will start the discussion with the staff at our next meeting this week.
In general: A Student Council is a group of elected and volunteer students working together with an adult advisor within the framework to provide a means for student expression and assistance in school affairs and activities, give opportunities for student experience in leadership and encourage student / faculty / community relations”. Through projects and activities, student councils work to: -Promote Citizenship, Leadership, Scholarship, Cultural Values, Human Relations. A student council is a group of student leaders who work with an adult advisor to collaborate with others to impact their school community, which impacts their city or town, which impacts our state, which impacts our country, which changes the world.” https://www.tasconline.org/what-is-a-student-council
Middle School Charter Band will begin September 29th We meet in the Multipurpose room Wednedays, and Thursdays from 8am-8:40am. We've had about 13 students make it to our first week of band and we've started learning the Jaws theme together. We'd love to have some more students join us!
For families that have signed up previously but did not make it to our first week, please confirm your student's participation with this form. And, if you haven't signed up but would like to join us, band instrument options are: Flute, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bb Trumpet, Trombone, and Percussion (Snare drum and Mallets.)Here's our informational pdf and a link to our Band google classroom.
Middle School After School Sports: Any student interested in trying out for the boys basketball team, send Mrs. Bytheway an email with the student name and grade level. Tryouts start Monday, October 18th. Boys basketball Open Gym/Condition: Friday, 10/8 & 10/15 2:45 to 3:45pm in the middle school gym.
Girls soccer tryouts start Monday, October 18th 3:15 to 4:45pm.
Andrea Bytheway: SLVMS Athletic Director [email protected]
From our Charter VAPA Booster parents: Below you will find the updates for All Charter VAPA after school enrichment opportunities:
The current Covid restrictions require social distancing and mask wearing, as much as possible, for all performers during rehearsals and performances. Our Charter Play has always been an opportunity for our entire community, K-12, to perform together in a large cast of 60-80 students. At this time, this is too large a group to manage and maintain proper social distancing, particularly backstage in the PAC. In keeping with the spirit of the Charter Play, we want all actors who audition to be included. Therefore, here is the current plan:
- Change the Performance week from the first week of February to the last week of April (Monday, April 25-Sunday, May 1).
- Auditions will be the week of January 31-February 4
- We will explore the option of an outside performance venue if current Covid restrictions still inhibit proper social distancing in the PAC in April
- If Covid restrictions continue to be too prohibitive, a Musical Review, instead of a full production, may be considered as an option. This would enable more social distancing and grouping of students.
- Instructor: Amber Walker and others To Be Determined
All Charter Talent Show: Friday, May 20, at 7pm Coordinator: To Be Determined
Your Charter Theater Booster Club
Charter Library Help needed: If you are interested in volunteering in the library, please contact Clara Elliott at [email protected]. Help is needed bar-coding, entering books into our system, and shelving. Your help is greatly appreciated!
Here is a link to the library to give you a little taste of what is being developed: https://bit.ly/3yCnPlYOnline K-8 Enrichment for our full-time Independent Home School families: Marcy Reynolds, one of our long-time homeschool teachers, is regularly emailing the families who are working with us solely as Independent Study students this year. Included below is the link to the Master Online K-8 enrichment program resources. The Zoom links for the Math talks, Jump Into Writing sharing, and teachers open office hours are all included. Online Enrichment Resources.
Additionally, I am offering a Zoom meeting for all families to discuss homeschool practices and answer any questions parents may have on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month from 9:30-10:30. The next meeting will be October 15. Join Zoom Meeting
Gardening News: Many of you may not know yet that we have a Master Gardener, Melanie Burgess, who works with all of our students monthly, teaching the Jr. Master Gardening curriculum and working with them in our various garden areas around or new campus. She is a wealth of knowledge and an inspiration to our students. Every week, she shares an update on what she has taught the students with the teachers of the programs so that they can share out with the parents and incorporate the information into ther conversations/ lessons when possible.
Here are some examples of the curriculum that the students is working with her on so far:
- 2nd Grade; Plant Needs, Nutrients, Diseases, and Perennial Veg/Fruit
- 3rd Grade; Insects and Life Cycles, Beneficial Flowers
- 6th Grade; Plant Hydrology, Water Cycles, and Drought Tolerant Plants
- 8th Grade;Plant Physics, Recycling, Composting, Natives.
Melanie also works with the hands-on component of the CRHS Environmental Horticulture class.
Volunteer opportunities will be available on a limited basis at each school site. The registration process for volunteers is as follows:
New Volunteer: You will be required to pick up and fill out the volunteer paperwork from your school site and obtain a signature from the school site administrator. Once complete, please bring your signed paperwork to the Human Resources Office. You will also be required to provide verification of a full COVID-19 vaccination and a current TB result.
Returning Volunteer: You will be required to provide verification of a full COVID-19 vaccination. This documentation can be provided to your child's school site. The school site will forward proof of vaccination to the Human Resources Office. You may also bring the proof of COVID-19 vaccination documentation directly to the Human Resources Office.
Registration packets are available in our Charter Administration Office.
The Human Resources Office hours will accept volunteer registrations on Tuesdays from 7:00-11:00 am and Thursdays from 12:30-3:30 pm. The Human Resources Office is located at 325 Marion Avenue, Ben Lomond, CA 95005.
Student Nutrition Services: New online ordering system: The system is now working! Thanks to everyone who has started ordering their students breakfast and lunches online. Ordering online saves food and preparation for the SNS staff. This is especially important, given that there is a staff shortage currently.
Alisia is giving some wiggle room for order timing but starting this coming week they would like orders in by 9 am the day before. This means Monday's meals need to be ordered by 9am Sunday.
Parents and Students will order meals using this link to the online ordering system: https://family.onlineordering.linq.com. Orders are due by 9 am the day before. You will need your student’s school ID number to create an account if you do not already have this, please call the Charter office at 831-335-0932 or email us at [email protected] or [email protected].
FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH
- USDA has extended free breakfast and lunch to all students through the 2021-2022 school year.
- Meals will be served from our Multi-use Room in the central area of the campus.
- Breakfast will be available in the mornings starting at 8:15-8:40.
- Lunch will be served starting at 11:45 on Mondays, 12:10 Tuesdays-Fridays
- CRHS students can order lunch and it will be delivered to the CRHS building.
- The more students use this service and share what they enjoy eating, the better Alicia and her team can support us.
What’s happening in our Charter Programs: Every once in a while I will share little tidbits about what our various Charter programs are doing on-site as you wouldn’t know unless you are in their email group!
Quail Hollow Homeschool: We had such a wonderful time camping. Not everyone could come but for those who could, we had a great time. It is a sacrifice to take time out of your busy schedule, but this trip is always a highlight of the year and a great opportunity to meet and make bonds with new classmates and parents. At our closing circle on Thursday down at the beach, we were treated to a fantastic display of dolphins jumping completely out of the water. It was so cool!
Fall Creek Homeschool: Ocean Guardian Assembly: What is a grant? What is a Watershed? What is Ocean Guardian? Our focus: 6 Rs- Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot everyone watched the Ocean Guardian OverviewVideo. The school's Trash Audit was shared: A group of students got up in front of the entire assembly. They discussed our trash audit and why we did it, presented our class data, and talked about our class goals. Next steps? Composting and sorted recycling
Nature Academy: All grade levels have gone on their annual Ropes Course. Academics and enrichment classes include: Learning about our Sandhills, preparing to be an Ocean Guardian School, Early man tools, Students have been working collaboratively and investigating the math with manipulatives with a UCSC intern learning the teaching craft and supporting them as well, learning about what was behind Colonial unrest.
Quail Hollow Integrated Arts: Students have been working on their Square 1 art in class and some have even brought it home to work on as well. They will need to turn in their chosen piece on the Square 1 art paper by Thursday, October 7th. At the parent meeting, we shred about changing the schedule slightly so that our long break matches up with the other middle school programs aligning more when school lunch is served as well. This change will not affect school end times or lab times. We are simply adding an art lab from 11-11:30 for direct instruction in art as well as the opportunity to work on art previously introduced.
Coast Redwood Middle School: Students have begun research on their individual projects that they will present in class this semester. They are also reviewing each others designs on how to arrange their classroom and discussing when and when not to have humans involved with the local wildlife.
Coast Redwood High School: Environmental Horticulture Class The garden is coming alive! Students have been working on perfecting their pea trellis and decided to use some Harvest Guard cloth to protect their peas from munching birds. They reseeded a few peas that had been eaten. Students learned all about radishes and planted several different varieties in a bed they weeded and refilled with compost and soil. Students also learned all about Nasturtiums and Calendulas and their insect repelling and attracting properties. They planted these flowers around the garden and in the Fava, Pea, and Radish beds.
Students in grades K-8 can use the District’s bus transportation to get to and from the campus. Bus information, fees and schedules can be found at this link. Bus Transportation; SLVUSD
Thank you to all families who have signed up their children and bought a pass. It is important that your student carries their bus pass card with them to show the bus driver every time they ride the bus.
Covid Protocols to All Families who come on-site: When your child is sick
Important for all of our students enrolled in our programs. We are committed to make sure that we are doing all that we can to mitigate the COVID virus so that we can keep our programs open for those who want to attend classes on our site. One piece that is important is to make sure that we trace any positive case. This is done by accessing any student who comes on site and shows symptoms that may be signs of the COVID virus.
If your child comes on-site for classes. Please call our Charter Attendance Line at 831-336-8527 to report when your student is ill. If your student has experienced any covid-like symptoms:
*Cough *Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
*Fatigue *Muscle or body aches
*Headache *Congestion or runny nose
*Sore throat *New loss of taste or smell
*Diarrhea *Nausea or vomiting
You will either need to:
- Receive a negative PCR Covid Test, be free from vomiting, diarrhea or fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, and have had an improvement in symptoms.
- Isolate at home for 10 days from symptom onset. OR
- Be seen by their physician and provide a medical evaluator note to verify that an alternative diagnosis has been made and the symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
Parents who have further questions can contact Nurse Sarah Dahlen at 831-335-4452 x142.
Thank you so much to all of you who are wearing your masks properly while you are in the classrooms and outside, close to others. It is by doing so that we can keep the virus at bay and keep learning together in classrooms and on campus.
Proper mask-wearing includes the following:
- Wearing your mask properly, over your nose and mouth, whenever you are inside and there is another person present in the room
- Not pulling it down or taking it off in order to be better heard when speaking in class
- No eating or drinking in class. Breaks during class or stepping outside to take a drink or eat.
- We have plenty of masks in every room if you need one.
Pandemic Updates, and information on power outages on school days: Please read Chris Schiermeyer’ email for the most recent update not only on the pandemic but important information regarding power outages Parent Communication Update #7
Here are some good links to perhaps bookmark regarding Covid Safety protocols: RETURN TO SCHOOL POLICY.
DRIVE THROUGH COVID-19 TESTING: Exciting News! The County Office of Education is now offering symptomatic & Asymptomatic PCR testing. Cabrillo College in Aptos, Parking Lot K Mon-Fri 2-5pm and Sat 9am-5pm. PVUSD District Office, Parking Lot Mon, Wed, Fri 9am to 5pm. Santa Cruz COE Annex, 399 Encinal St, Santa Cruz Mon-Fri 3-6 pm. Drive Through Covid-19 Testing Sites
Employment Opportunities at SLVUSD: Are you looking for part-time or full-time work? Interested in joining the SLVUSD Team? We have several job opportunities. You can review SLVUSD job opportunities at www.edjoin.org/slvusd.
Dates to Remember:
- Monday, November 1: Professional Development Day - No School
- Tuesday, November 2: Picture Make-ups, all grades
- Thursday, November 11: School Holiday, Veteran’s Day
- Monday-Friday, November 22-26: Thanksgiving Break
Administrator: Rhonda Schlosser: [email protected]
Administrative Assistant: Danelle Matteson: [email protected]
Registrar: Janet Hendricks [email protected]
Mental Health Counselor: Robin Bates [email protected]
HS Academic Counselor: Mary Zilge [email protected]