“The only thing that is constant is change.” ― Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)
The first day of the SUESD School Year is August 22, 2018. The beginning of a new school year is such an exciting time. In just a few weeks, students in our schools will be getting to know their new teachers.
Some will be in school for the first time in Kindergarten (or Transitional Kindergarten). Others will cross the threshold from elementary to middle school. As we begin the new year, please allow me to summarize some of the areas of change and focus for SUESD. Let’s start with new leadership at each of our elementary schools.
Mrs. Trisha Lee is now the Principal at Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School. Trisha most recently served as the Principal at Pearl Zanker Elementary School in Milpitas Unified School District. Previously, she was a Middle School Assistant Principal and a High School Biology Teacher. She’s also been a mentor teacher. Trisha and her family reside in Aptos.
Mrs. Kristin Murphy is taking the reins as Principal at Soquel Elementary. Kristin most recently held the position of Assistant Principal at Luther Burbank School in San Jose. Some of her previous experience includes time as Instructional Coach/Classroom Teacher at Good Shepherd Catholic School and Principal at Aspire Capitol Heights Academy in Sacramento. She has been a classroom teacher in Kindergarten, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, and 6th Grade and served as an Instructional Coach. Kristin and her family reside in Scotts Valley.
Mr. Ronnie Platt takes over as Principal at Main Street Elementary School. Ronnie’s most recent role was that of Assistant Principal at Aptos Jr. High in Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
Ronnie has a strong background in special education as a teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels as a resource specialist and working with students with emotional disturbances. Ronnie and his family reside in Santa Cruz.
I am very excited to work with these three outstanding leaders and am confident they will serve our students and community admirably. Speaking of strong leadership, Mr. Craig Broadhurst will continue to lead New Brighton Middle School. Craig is fond of using the analogy of “adding jewels to the New Brighton Crown” for continuous improvement efforts.
There are several new jewels at New Brighton this year. For example, we have added a full-time School Counselor position to the staff. Nothing is more crucial to student achievement than meeting social-emotional needs, and we are very enthusiastic about having this new position on board for that purpose. New Brighton is also adding one class each of Computer Coding and Music. While just one class is an admittedly dipping a small toe into the proverbial waters, we are proud to offer these new opportunities for students.
There are noticeable physical changes taking place at each of the district’s four comprehensive sites thanks to our community’s support of the 2016 Measure C General Obligation Bond.
I will be publishing more specific information regarding our construction projects in future months. Big-picture-wise, the construction schedule is on-point.
The goal is to have all new classrooms finished one year from now in August of 2019. Short-term-wise, you will soon see new digital marquee displays at our schools thus allowing more modern communication with the community.
Along these same lines, our Information Technology Department has updated district and school websites in an attempt to make information more consistent and accessible. You can access these sites by starting at www.suesd.org. The district has also initiated an online registration system to reduce the amount of paper we use.
T-K/ Kindergarten Registration
While most of our changes are of the positive variety, there is one new development we are concerned about, projected Kindergarten (and Transitional Kindergarten) enrollment for 2018-19. Simply put, numbers for this incoming cohort of students appear quite low district-wide and especially so in the Santa Cruz Gardens attendance area.
To help address this situation, we have instituted new student registration at the district office during the summer to ensure parents can enroll children at their convenience. Additionally, we have reduced the number of Kindergarten Classes at Santa Cruz Gardens from two down to one and changed one of the classes at Opal Cliffs School from Transitional Kindergarten-only to a combination of Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students.
I want to end this month’s article by expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to lead SUESD. I’m beginning my third year as Superintendent of the district and just signed a four-year contract with the board. This job is indeed a professional joy.
We have excellent teachers and support staff, the backbone of any school district, and board members who are genuinely concerned about our students’ development. I am very fortunate to work with such engaged families and community members.
Sometimes I joke that many superintendents only get to hear the “bad stuff” from community members — however it’s essential that we find out how we can improve through constructive feedback. What I have found these past two years is that I just as often receive positive comments about our schools from our community, and for this I am incredibly grateful. Nothing brings me more joy than hearing about something a teacher or staff member did — above and beyond the expected — to make school a positive experience for our children.
Please never hesitate to call or e-mail me with either type of feedback, so we know how we are doing because the District Office only exists to support our schools, and our schools only exist to serve the community.