Info‎ > ‎Charter News Archives‎ > ‎

Charter News October 1, 2017-18

posted Oct 1, 2017, 8:46 PM by Rhonda Schlosser

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”     - Roy T. Bennett

Dear Charter Families,

October is here, the seasons are shifting, and the school rhythm is in full swing.  This Charter News has a few important reminders for you to review, but the majority of it is focused on our monthly correspondence from our counselor Jen Sims.  She too is in full swing working to support our students, developing the skills that can deepen our level of empathy with each other.  Please read on and take a minute or two to digest what she shares.  I have also little snippets of activities from our various programs..truly wonderful things happen in our classrooms, and all so unique.

Please read on to learn more.


From Our Counselor, Jen Sims:  Communication

Hello!  Since my last communication, I have facilitated more than 20 empathy groups with the students of the Charter School Programs and Boulder Creek Elementary. It’s been great to spend time with so many students and teachers.  I have had fun participating in the special dynamics that make up each classroom group.  It has definitely been a learning experience!

Just to let you know, the children in this district are pretty good at empathy.

I came to the students with a daunting task:  -Sit and listen to your classmates.  -Share when it is your turn.  -Listen with open ears, open eyes and an open heart.  I did not approach any class with an exact agenda, other than I wanted to assess their current abilities to process things in a group and to make some points about empathy. I can say for sure that there was not one dull moment in any group. From kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, most students were anxious to share their experiences and worked hard to hold space for their peers.  I asked groups to answer different questions, depending on their age: “What’s your favorite thing about school?”, “Why do you come to BCE”, “What gets in the way of having a great day at school?”,  “Talk about a time when you felt empathy for someone, or talk about a time someone felt empathy for you.”

To iron out some communication basics, we talked about ‘real listening’ vs. ‘fake listening’ before starting group conversations. Students of all ages waved their hands in the air when I asked about this - they knew exactly what I was talking about:

  • “Fake listening is when you look at someone when they are talking, but you are thinking about something else.”

  • “Fake listening is like this: (looks at pretend phone while saying ‘uh huh, uh huh’)”

  • “Fake listening is when you’re looking around the room or watching tv while someone is talking to you.”

Listening to these comments I scanned my own experiences with the kids, thinking about times that I myself have been a fake listener.  Honestly, there are too many to mention and I am the school counselor!  It’s not realistic to be a perfect listener all the time, but this was a great reminder that children are really paying attention to when we’re not.   

This brings me to my topic for the month – communication.  In many ways, communication is at an all-time high in our world.  We can be in constant contact with each other through phone, texts, emails, and social media sites like Facebook. World news travels so quickly that we know about far away events almost immediately.  Any thought or feeling that crosses our mind can be imparted through our social media pages within seconds.

The impact has been strange.  Because of the Internet, I feel like I, along with the world, has some increased personal empathy.  We are able to learn about people and communities that we might not have had access to in the past.  We can read people’s words; hear their voices and perspective.   At the same time, I wonder if our world is smaller because we are taking in the information in a 2 dimensional way.  Other than comments sections, which are usually quite dysfunctional, how do we process what we have learned with real people?  Not just the people around us, but also with people who might disagree with us?  How do we hold empathy in those situations?

Learning to communicate what is inside

We all need to be able to decipher and communicate the feelings we are having inside both to others and to ourselves.  While working with a child of any age, I find ‘I don’t know’ to be a common response when I ask them how they are feeling.  This is an opportunity to dig deeper and work on skills that connect thoughts, emotions, and language.  Did you know that every feeling has a corresponding physical sensation?  This is factual and a good place to start.  Ask them, where do you feel this emotion in your body? Give them a variety of words to talk about feelings so they can describe the nuances of anger, happiness, sadness or worry.   We are not born with the natural ability to figure out and talk about emotions, but if you keep practicing the skills of noticing and saying what is happening inside, I promise your child will get good at this.  I don’t make very many promises as a therapist, but I have seen this happen enough that I believe it to be true.

The movie ‘Inside Out’ has been so great for helping kids understand and express feelings.  I have had success using this movie as a jumping off point for this skill.  I am also a huge fan of Dr. Becky Bailey who developed the ‘Conscious Discipline’ model.  She has made many helpful videos about coaching children of all ages through their feelings.  Here is a link to some of her youtube videos:

What I love so much about Dr. Bailey is that she also focuses on helping parents manage their emotions so that they can step back and become better teachers of emotional skill.

Just listen

Earlier I mentioned how tuned in children are to the fact that adults are not always paying attention.  I have compassion around this because I know how many directions a person can be pulled even in just one day.  However, the more we listen to children – truly listen – and create space for them to share, the better communicators they will become.  Going into their world is going to increase your empathy for them as well.

If you’re not already doing this, the next time you have a conversation with your child, practice being present and NOT problem-solving.  This is tough because of course, you want your children to be safe and having already been through this period of life, you know the answers!  But letting your child just talk is invaluable.  Sometimes it is all someone needs to feel better, to just let it out, and sometimes hearing their own words out loud can help them come to a solution themselves.  To encourage your child to keep the communication going, try using some prompts like:

  • Tell me more about that?

  • Wow!

  • I can tell you’re really feeling  __________ (name a feeling)

  • It’s okay to let it out

  • I’m here for you


You will want to regularly check in – even if your child is not up to talking at one point (or many points).  Leaving that door always open is meaningful, even if it seems like your child doesn’t really notice. “Whenever you’re ready, I will be here,” is a good way to let them know you are available.  It is also a great idea to circle back around to previous discussions.  “How did things work out with your friend?”  This makes the point that you are listening and interested in an on-going discussion.

Timing is everything

You have probably noticed that there are certain times your child will open up more than others.  Parents have told me that teenagers become more willing to talk in the car.  Other kids might prefer dinnertime, bedtime or Saturday mornings.  Whenever it is, pay attention and seize the opportunity to open the space for communication.  It is really up to you to be the initiator as you are teaching your children these skills.   Trust that they are paying attention and will eventually develop that habit of coming to you as a reflex.  

Offer encouragement and praise

People really enjoy positive feedback and your children are no different.  Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in parenting; I know at least as a counselor I am occasionally itching to deliver a message related to their bigger picture (ie, school or behavioral responsibilities). This gets in the way of my ability to really hear and I can see that it shuts them down.  I have noticed that a child will tell me a little bit and as I use encouragement, they will open up and tell me more.  Make a point to look for honestly positive aspects of what your child is bringing to you and highlight them.   Even if you don’t like what your child is saying, you can let them know how great it was that they came to you.  That kind of unconditional positive regard will make you a safe person to approach.

Hard conversations are hard

There is no getting around it: hard conversations are just hard.  If you are already working on developing open communication with your child, you will be more practiced and prepared when they come around.  It may be tempting to skip them or not share the whole truth, but developmentally appropriate honesty is crucial to helping kids truly understand the world.  Using all of the emotional communication skills, active listening, timing and encouragement that you are practicing every day will help make the tougher conversations more effective, clear and honest.

One of the driving forces behind my initiative to have group conversations with classrooms every month is to practice all of the skills necessary to become comfortable communicators.  It is my hope that as the year progresses we will be able to have the face to face conversations necessary for getting through relational and ideological disagreements with empathy and grace.  When parents are working on this at home, the chances of success increase exponentially.  It is hard work, but I believe the impact of this will go far beyond your family, this community and the school district, and in fact, benefit the entire world.

Toyota Drive for Schools: Fundraiser!

Ticket sales are happening now through Thursday, October 19.  You can buy tickets from your Booster Club representative or teacher.  Prizes include cars, $25,000, and many other great prizes.  The best thing about this fundraiser is that your student’s program retains 100% of the money from tickets sold.

Message from the Parent Advisory Committee Member, Laura Bowers:  As Rhonda mentioned in the last newsletter, we had a very small turnout for our first committee meeting (only representing the Nature Academy and CRMS). The Parent Advisory Committee is an excellent way to support teachers and students in your school, to advise on school plans, funding, and resources, within the school, and to identify ways that the charter programs can collaborate. Please consider joining this committee to advocate for your program and the Charter school as a whole. It is a great way to make a difference and to be involved!  Our next meeting is Thursday, October 12, from 3-4 pm in the Fall Creek Charter office.

DACA information. Please open the link below to read a letter from Michael Watkins, County Superintendent of Schools regarding DACA. Website link:  here

After School Performing Arts opportunities coming up soon!!

Thrill the World! 2017 (Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Event) Rehearsals

When: Thursdays: Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 and Fridays Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 from 3-4:30 pm

Where: Rm. 29 (the dance room) on the Quail Hollow Campus

No need to sign up ahead of time. Just show up.

This event was founded in 2006 in Toronto and has now spread to six continents. Every October people in cities around the world dance to "Thriller" at exactly the same time.  Preparation and counting down worldwide is part of the fun, but the feeling of being connected to others and dancing together as one is a Thrill like no other!  Celebrating the truly inspirational genius of Michael Jackson in a living and moving way is what keeps people coming back year after year.  This year the event will be held in Santa Cruz on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at the Louden Nelson Center lawn at 3 pm sharp.

All Charter Musical: Cinder-Idol-What the World Needs Now!

Last year we had a great turnout, with 60 students from each and every program in our Charter participating.

Informational meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 3 pm for students and parents.

The meeting will be held room 17 at the Quail Hollow Campus.

You will get a synopsis of the script, hear about characters and musical numbers, and get detailed info on the rehearsal schedule/requirements.

This year, the play will be, "Cinder-Idol-What the World Needs Now". Once again, it will be an original script written by Janinne Chadwick, which Amber directed and choreographed in 2005 with LPRT (Little People's Repertory Theater.) It is the classic tale twisted together with today's reality talent show craze, with step-sisters resembling the Spice Girls, Motown fairy godparents, 80's big hair rockers, and music ranging from pop, rock n' roll, Motown, and the Beatles.

Come to our meeting to find out more details!

  • Auditions: 3-5:30pm, Mondays/Tuesdays, Oct. 16, 17, 23, 24 in Rm 29

  • Rehearsals: 3-5:30 pm, Mondays, and Tuesdays in Rm 29

  • January Rehearsals: 3-6pm at the SLV PAC, Jan. 8, 9, 16, 22, 23

  • Tech Rehearsals: 3-6pm, Mon. and Tues. Jan 29 and 30 at the PAC

  • Dress Rehearsal: 3-6pm, Wed. Jan. 31 at the PAC

  • Performances for SLV classes: Thurs. and Fri., Feb. 1 and 2 at 10:30 am

  • Evening Performances: Thurs., Fri., and Sat., Feb. 1, 2, and 3

If you have any questions about any of these dates, feel free to email me at  I look forward to sharing my love of performing arts with your students!

Sincerely, Amber Walker  - Charter Teacher -Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA)

 😀 Put your smiles on and brush your hair, Charter picture days are coming soon! More information will be sent closer to the picture dates.

  • October 5th: Quail Hollow Homeschool, Quail Hollow Integrated Arts, Fall Creek Homeschool, Coast Redwood High School, Coast Redwood Middle School Picture Day: (time TBD)

             P.S. These pictures will be taken outside for a natural background.

  • October 16: Nature Academy 6-8 grade Picture retake day: (during PE period)

  • November 9th: Picture retake day for all homeschool programs :  (time TBD)

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

Coast Redwood HS: It has been a busy week for students with onsite classes, AP classes, independent study/homeschool classes, sports, clubs, Cabrillo, capping our week off with our 9/10th grade Advisory Meeting. Advisory update: Our 9th/10th graders arrived in the morning and were presented with a group question, "How can we foster _____at CRHS," and proceeded to write their thoughts on the paper taped below each poster students drew and colored at the last week’s Advisory meeting.  The message and question this week was, "what did you observe this past week between friends and peers on campus." The student comments were inspiring, positive and supportive. Next, the students were off to the tennis courts for a rousing and challenging (Keidi's version) of the "Badminton Game." Our students had lots of fun with this team building exercise! In closing, all the teachers met with their students to discuss Power School, updated grades, Schoology, classes, and reiterated the importance of staying organized at home, at school, and in their planner book. Many students stayed a bit longer to meet with Rory with their college questions and Rory's recommendations. Students also stayed to work on various assignments to turn-in next week. Well done everyone!

Coast Redwood MS: We had a fabulous day at Mt. Hermon Outdoor School led by Suzy, Erin & Rebecca.  Part of the process at Mt. Hermon includes group discussion to tease out deeper understandings from the activities.  We continued that process in class as we looked at our patterns in the roles to which we naturally gravitate. Circle Check-In: Due to popular demand we participated in our usual Wednesday morning circle check-in. The kids verbally rated their in-the-moment physical and emotional well-being on a scale of 1-10 and backed up their claims with evidence. High-quality listening was practiced by all. Project Presentation Leadership: While the new students were at the library, continuing students brainstormed a list of advice to offer new students about how to best tackle their first project presentation. We also worked on questioning skills to help new students begin the process of picking a topic. Through this process, students were also able to get a good start on outlining their own project.

Nature Academy: 7-8th graders continue their in-depth study of the Brain with various articles, discussions, writing, drawings, and a sheep brain dissection!  6th-grade class completed their work on a 3D representation of the layers of the earth.  All grades had a great time on their hike through Pogonip and to the Evergreen Cemetery. The 6th-grade class will have an excursion to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on Oct. 6th.

Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): This week we finished up our study of Cell Structure and Function, and read/compared Ancient Greek Culture and Roman Culture, focusing on Ovid’s Epic Poem “Metamorphosis” for themes present in Roman History and Mythology. The students will be writing their own myths over the next two weeks. Any extra reading of Roman/Greek myths will be a great inspiration to draw from. They continue to enjoy Improv with Hunter and are working through the tedious art-style of Roman Mosaic.

Quail Hollow Homeschool: We had a great time on our annual camping trip: what great way to begin to build our community. We will begin an 8-week Outdoor Adventures Component on Wednesday, October 18th.  In addition to our activities in our k-2 and 3-6 groups, we have been having great Group Activities: We worked in multi-age groups using only small cups to build the tallest possible tower.  This STEM activity required students to plan and work together to engineer a tall and stable structure. Friends built many structures over 60 cm tall, and a few reached over 70cm! We worked in multi-age groups to each create a personal collage, with some facts and info about ourselves, and a pictorial expression of who we are and what we love. We ended the day with one big compliment circle, all together. Elkhorn Slough Kayaking Trip Friday, October 13 This is another one of our Annual Favorites! This particular trip is for 3rd grade and up​

Fall Creek Homeschool: We played “telephone” as an introduction to a theme about truly listening to each other.We discussed one way and two-way communication and the circumstances of each.  We discussed shellfish and drew a Venn diagram of animals that would be considered “mollusks” and those considered “crustaceans”. We examined seashells of all kinds, identified them and colored drawings of them to match the real item. We listened to the true story of a captive pilot whale who was bullying other dolphins and how the empathy of the dolphins to his plight resulted in his no longer being a bully. We discussed the three general zones of ocean life – sunlight, twilight and midnight. We discussed what ocean creatures would live in which zones and why. We drew schemata of the three zones in our rainbow books and then added creatures. We listened to a true story of a pod of dolphins that protected a class of junior lifeguards from a great white shark.  We split into two groups and each group had a session on empathy with Jen Sims.  We will be going on a hike into Fall Creek Forest. Our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is on Wednesday, October 18.

Mountain IS: Our next book for our Book Club is The Incredible Journey which we will discuss on October 24. Students k-6th are welcome, but we ask that k-2nd attend with a parent. Please bring a snack to share. It seems everyone is in favor of the idea of participating in a service project and presenting their experience to the class in a medium of their choice throughout January. For now, we are just planting the seed. Students and IS families are welcome to collaborate on a project together or work independently. It may be as part of a pre-existing organization, or a particular area you are passionate about or see in need of help. I look forward to hearing about students practices in empathy. During class, Jenni and Jackson Harn shared their photo journal from this summer while their lizard had babies. They also helped our students set up a lizard tank to house our new class pet. A sign-up sheet will be posted soon in hopes of enlisting volunteers for cricket donations. Thank you again to the Vallett's for hosting the apple picking and cooking event. There was no shortage of good old-fashioned farm fun. Isn't it amazing the wealth of resources we have in our IS community? Thank you all for how much time, effort and generosity you have given so far to our families this school year.

Dates to remember:

October 5 and October 12: Vision and Hearing screening

October 5: First Rehearsal for Thrill the World event 3-4:30 at the Quail Hollow Campus

October 5th: Picture Day: Quail Hollow Homeschool, Quail Hollow Integrated Arts, Fall Creek Homeschool, Coast Redwood High School, Coast Redwood Middle School Picture Day: (time TBD)

             P.S. These pictures will be taken outside for a natural background.

October 10: All Charter Play (Cinder-Idol) information meeting at 3pm for students and parents. room 17 at the Quail Hollow Campus.

October 16: Picture retake day: (during PE period) Nature Academy 6-8 grade

October 27th:  End of Quarter 1 grading period

November 9th: Picture retake day for all homeschool programs : (time TBD)

November 10th:  No School-- Veteran’s Day

November 17: End of First Trimester

November 20th-26th:  Thanksgiving Break

December 22nd- January 7th:  Winter Break

January 25: End of the first Semester