Charter News • May 27, 2022

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”- James Allen


“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”- Mary Roach


Dear Charter Families,

Our Charter programs have had so many wonderful celebrations and special events over the last few weeks. Fall Creek and Quail Hollow Homeschool had their personalized honoring or their 5th-grade students moving on to middle school. QHIA had their 8th-grade promotion celebration today, and CRMS will have theirs on June 6th, with Nature Academy having their promotion ceremony on June 7th. Our high school students had a lovely graduation ceremony this Thursday, May 26th. They had 25 student graduates, 4 of them mid-year, 16 choosing to participate on our special graduation ceremony in the Fall Creek Amphitheater.

It is so special to see and hear how the teachers honor their students' achievements in heartfelt and personalized ways. And thank you to Danelle for attending at least a few of these special events in my stead. I can’t wait to see their yearbooks! Each program creates its own yearbook and they are as personal and unique as each of our programs.

Our teachers will be asking for parent/student feedback either through an online survey or via discussions at their parent meetings.  Please take to time to fill these out, as your input for next year is greatly appreciated.

No School Monday. We have a three-day weekend and when we return we only have 6 days until the end of the school year!  What a year it has been. I have to say that it is great to have all the programs on one site and know that everyone is looking forward to even more activities that we can do to more firmly establish and integrate our programs.

Please read on to learn more about -updates including initial dates for next year, - a newsletter from Robin our mental health counselor, and -introductions to our new staff members.  

Thank you for allowing us to share in the growth and well-being of your children.

All the best,



NEW Staff members: It is rare that there is a year without some changes to staff at a school. We have been fortunate to always have staff that support our students in the various programs and who enjoy our community.  This year we have some subtle shifts in positions, and some teachers who have chosen to explore new options for their teaching talents. For those that are leaving, we wish them the best, and we welcome the new teachers and those who are transitioning to other program positions within the Charter.

  • New to QHHS: I’m Barb Matessa, a longtime parent at the Charter and a credentialed teacher.  I joined the staff this year as an instructional aide for K-12 students and then moved into the Independent Studies teaching position where I also taught writing. In addition to homeschooling my son, I’ve taught TK, first grade, reading intervention to K-5 students, and worked with Ocean Grove as an Education Specialist with K-12 students.  I live with my husband, our 10-year-old daughter, and our 17-year-old son in Ben Lomond.  I can’t wait to join the Quail Hollow Community and co-teach with Katie!
  • New to QHIS, 6th grade: A longtime educator, David Keuter has taught in traditional and alternative environments. He has served as a primary classroom teacher and math intervention teacher in elementary grades and as a secondary school art teacher. He has also been a homeschooling dad! Alongside his teaching career, David has been involved in the arts as a prolific painter and active musician for decades. He is passionate about integrating the arts into the curriculum as well as encouraging students to explore and enjoy art for art’s sake.

  • New to Nature Academy: Gabriel Cohn: comes from PCS where he taught middle school students for the last 7+ years.  Like Rebecca, he has a passion for Math and wants to teach it to middle school students. Here is a paragraph that he wrote to introduce himself to our NA community: Hi Nature Academy people! I am excited to be your new Math teacher.  I come to SLV with a dozen years of middle school teaching under my belt, but never before in this subject area.  But, don't worry!  I've always been a math nerd and I've been a math tutor and private teacher at various points as well.  Math has always been a passion, and I'm just excited that I finally get to make it my career.  Besides teaching, I'm an avid hiker and backpacker and love rock climbing (but haven't done any since COVID hit).  My other passion is board games.  I love thinky strategy games and I've designed a few of my own as well.  Anyhow, I can't wait to meet y'all in August.  Until then, have a great summer!
  • After 4 years with the Nature Academy, Rebecca Doty has decided to transfer to SLVHS in order to teach Math 1. She has loved working with all of our curious and spirited students and she feels that Nature Academy really is an exceptional program. She shared, with all honesty that she has never worked with such a passionate and giving staff as what I have found at our charter school. Her primary reason for this transition is to focus on teaching and to being able to further develop the craft of teaching math. She would be thrilled to have any of our Nature Academy students in her class at SLVHS.

  • New (returning)  Mental Health Counselor, Jen Sims: I’m so excited to be returning to the SLV Charter school as the mental health counselor for the 22/23 school year!  Some of you may remember my earlier work as the Charter school counselor from 2015-2018.  I’ve been full-time at Boulder Creek Elementary School since then, but a recent decision to go part-time has brought me full circle.

    A little bit about me: I have been practicing as a therapist since 2007. The first half of my career was working with survivors of interpersonal violence and the second half has been working with children, teens, and young adults. I like animals, Broadway, running, Tik Tok, laughing, nature, and travel.  I live in Felton with my wife and our dogs and cats. 

I love being a part of this community and I am looking forward to serving your mental health needs. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]


Time to Return Books from the Charter Library:  Clara (and parent helpers) would love to be able to complete a full inventory of all library materials before summer break.  Please drop them next week off before June 3rd. The books can either be returned to the main office (blue bin by the door) or to the library return cart.  Thank you!


Parent Advisory Committee:  At our last meeting, our core group of parents, representing every program, helped to plan and schedule special All-Charter events for next year with me. They are committed to supporting the teachers in their annual planned events, while aosl offering more support in uniting the student and parent community through more activities at our site. They are looking forward to supporting our initial Beach day on August 12, and helping to connect more of the programs together for an October event as well as our annual Craft Day that every program is planning tp participate in.

A big thanks to those who attended our meetings all year. I look forward to working with you next year!


Redwood Mountain Faire Great News! The Redwood Mountain Faire is back for 2022 on June 4th & 5th at Roaring Camp. This amazing local music festival is all volunteer-run and the proceeds are split up between the local organizations that provide volunteers.  Check it out at Redwood Mountain Faire. Our Charter is one of the organizations and we have parents and teachers volunteering at the event.


From or Mental Health Counselor: Turning Towards the Heart…
Hello Charter families.  There have been quite a few events and circumstances lately that have really tugged on my heart.  It would probably be easier for me to just run all of it through my left brain - where I use logic to “solve peoples’ problems”, avoiding my own uncomfortable feelings.  But, in my opinion, I would miss the richest part of being human. While sometimes empathy can feel painful,  we can connect with each other through the heart and ease suffering, learn about ourselves and others and feel a sense of support and belonging.  These qualities are vital for mental and physical health, and the bedrock for healthy communities. 


Empathy is a skill that allows us to “plug in” to what others are experiencing, letting their feelings and thoughts run through our psyche so that we “carry the load” together when someone is suffering. A couple of months ago, I was ordering tea from my favorite coffee shop, and it just popped out of my mouth that we were breaking ground on our rebuild.  Without any notice, I felt myself tear up!  The woman serving the tea came around and gave me a giant hug, and with tears in her eyes she explained how awful she felt for the people all around her trying to rebuild their homes. It was a moment when two strangers connected through empathy. And when we exchanged names, it so happened her name was Robin too! I now feel a deeper kind of belonging to that little shop.


It’s nearly impossible to cause someone harm when we have a habit of practicing empathy.  Can you imagine what our world would be like if our most important lessons were about learning to deepen our empathy? 


There are many ways that people of all ages can practice and deepen these skills. 

Here are some tips!

  • Listen more than you talk.  Commit your undivided attention to the conversation. That means no cell phones, tablets, or computers. Communicate this undivided attention by maintaining steady eye contact. If you notice yourself giving advice or trailing off into your own stories, just gently bring yourself back to the speaker, without judgment. 
  • Let the speaker actually speak. Summarize your understanding. 
  • Ask insightful, relevant questions. Tap into your natural curiosity and ask nonjudgmental questions to better understand the other person’s perspectives, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Allow the other person to rant. When someone’s having troubles of some kind, they may be emotionally flustered. That’s okay. Let them talk from the heart.

  • Give your perspective.  Imagine you’re in the speaker’s shoes and express how you would feel in that situation.  Let your emotions guide you through this. 

  • Be vulnerable. Too often in our relationships we keep our conversations in “the safe zones”, with little risk for being judged. By sharing our own insecurities and mistakes, we connect through our common humanity; and this common ground is one of the most important foundations you can lay in a relationship.

  • Most importantly….Turn Towards Your Heart.  It’s hard for our brains to know the “right thing to say and do”, but our hearts always know where to start.  Close your eyes, bring your attention to your heart and focus on your feelings by describing them to yourself.  I often do this right in the middle of a session with a client. Awareness of feelings is the key to empathy. Children can practice this by drawing how they feel, learning new words to describe how they feel and playing out how they feel. 


Every time you practice these things you are modeling empathy to your children.  They can see you do it, feel the benefits of it and learn some great skills!  I hope you all find ways, no matter how big or tiny, to connect with each other through empathy. Sometimes the smallest gesture of connection can make a big difference in someone’s life. 


Robin Bates, LMFT


Summer Cyber Camps for HS Students - FREE   Cabrillo College and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education are bringing Cyber back!  We invite Santa Cruz County high school and community college students to join our annual Bay Cyber Summer CyberCamps. These are free week-long courses with hands-on activities in cybersecurity and technology, as well as connections to future internships and other college/career readiness opportunities.

 Two weeks of in-person CyberCamps on the Cabrillo College campus: 


The ideal CyberCampers are current (2021-2022) 8th-12th graders and community college students with basic computer skills and little to no cybersecurity experience. Computer equipment and lunch/snacks will be provided. 


Need more details? Check out the website:
or send us an email at [email protected]



Booster-Sponsored Ice Cream Social was a success.  The Ice Cream Social was definitely a success!   One parent estimated about 150 parents and kids in attendance.  Kids had fun, parents connected, and everyone enjoyed ice cream and sorbet!  I heard multiple kids saying that we should do this again.

 Special thanks to Sadie Lutter for suggesting the idea, co-planning the event, and bringing the tables and other equipment to help make the day happen in style.  Shelly McCollyer helped pick up the ice cream and found other ways to help the event go smoothly.


Happily, we had plenty of ice cream & sorbet for everyone, and the donations we received exceeded our costs by about $150.   The proposal is to give the funds to our Charter Library!


FEEDBACK:  As this was our first attempt at this kind of event for the Charter community, we learned a few lessons to keep in mind for next time. We are making a list of ways to make it better and easier for next time.  So, please let us know if you have any feedback for us.

VENUE?   The park venue had a lot of positives - shade, playground, varied spaces.   How do you feel about Highlands Park playground compared to possibly moving it to campus?

TIMING?  Pandemic permitting, would this be better repeated next spring or would it be beneficial to try it again in the fall to promote making the family connections sooner?


THANK YOU,  ~Melissa (parent of Fall Creek Homeschool)




MATH CONTEST Final results: SLV Charter was very well represented this year in the Santa Cruz County Math Contest. Our small school sent four amazing teams of students to the contest and actually represented more than 10% of the teams in attendance! 


We are very excited to announce that SLV Charter even placed this year! Our 7th grade team (comprised of both Nature Academy and QHIA students) won 3rd place team. Our 8th grade team won 2nd place team. Noah Brown won 3rd place individual for 8th grade. For the full list of winners, here's the link



CAASPP Testing update: A huge thank you to all of the parents who helped get their kids to us throughout the last month in order to take the various CAASPP and Physical Fitness tests.  We have quite a few students who do not come to our site often, and so it took some planning between parents and teachers to find a time that we could support the testing and I greatly appreciate the extended effort that so many parents and teachers took to help us reach our required 95% participation rate. Several students are still working to finish their tests. We are so close to our 95% participation, while we stil may not reach that percentage, we are thankful to all of those who supported this requirement.


COVID Update for next year – Vaccines will NOT be required for students and/or staff in the 2022-23 school year as previously anticipated. Schools will most likely continue with testing and tracking of exposures. Schools will still be required to provide Independent Studies as a choice for families; SLVUSD provides this through SLV Charter School.



COVID Update: SLVUSD has partnered with Inspire Diagnostics to offer an outdoor walk-up PCR testing site that is open to the entire school community at the SLV District Office, Quail Hollow school site, Ben Lomond and is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (excluding holidays) from 1-5pm.

Families are welcome to utilize this free service. The site is available for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Those needing a test simply need to fill out the registration once at, no appointment is required.  Our weekly and exposure testing will continue at the school sites for students and staff.


In addition, COVID-19 vaccinations are still available through our county drive-through locations. If you would like your child to get vaccinated, you can register and make an appointment at or contact your student’s doctor or healthcare provider.  



On-site COVID testing will continue: Inspire Diagnostics will continue to offer an outdoor walk-up PCR testing site that is open to the entire school community at the SLV District Office, Quail Hollow school site, Ben Lomond and is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (excluding holidays) from 1-5pm.

Families are welcome to utilize this free service. The site is available for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Those needing a test simply need to fill out the registration once at, no appointment is required.  Our weekly and exposure testing will continue at the school sites for students and staff.


In addition, COVID-19 vaccinations are still available through our county drive-through locations. If you would like your child to get vaccinated, you can register and make an appointment at or contact your student’s doctor or healthcare provider. 

Our weekly exposure testing will continue at the school sites for students and staff. The District provides testing in partnership with Inspire Diagnostics. By registering your student(s) with Inspire Diagnostics, your student(s) can test for weekly screening or for exposures as necessary. When your student(s) participates in this weekly screening and/or exposure testing, he/she is eligible to remain in school during a "modified" quarantine. The Inspire Diagnostics Testing Dates and Times at Quail Hollow are Monday & Thursday 10:45am - 11:45am through next week.

To register your student(s), please click on INSPIRE DIAGNOSTICS REGISTRATION.


Charter Parent Volunteers: 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.


*Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required regardless of where the volunteers are on campus, inside or outside.


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.


Dates to Remember:

  • Monday, May 30: District Holiday, Memorial Day
  • Monday, June 6: Coast Redwood Middle School 8th Grade Advancement; 10:30am-1:30pm, Natural Bridges
  • Tuesday, June 7: Nature Academy 8th Grade Advancement; 10:30am-12pm, Fall Creek Amphitheater
  • Tuesday, June 7: Last day of school for students

Beginning of the New School Year Dates:

    • August 11, First Day of the 2022-23 School Year
    • Friday, August 12, All-Charter Beach Day: To connect with the broader community of teachers, parents and students in all charter programs.
    • Monday, Sept 5: District Holiday, Labor Day
  • Friday, Oct 14: No School; Professional Development Day for staff

Key Contacts

Administrator: Rhonda Schlosser: [email protected]

Administrative Assistant: Danelle Matteson: [email protected]

Registrar: Janet Hendricks [email protected]

Mental Health Counselor: Robin Bates  [email protected] Jem Sims [email protected]

HS Academic Counselor: Mary Zilge  [email protected]

SLV Charter Website