SUESD Summer Update

SUESD Summer Update

By Scott Turnbull, Soquel Union Elementary School District Superintendent

SUESD_schools_graphic SUESD Summer Update Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comWelcome to the 2016-17 School Year at Soquel Union Elementary School District (SUESD). I’m Scott Turnbull, SUESD’s new Superintendent and I’m so excited to be here in this fantastic learning organization. I look forward to meeting many of you in the Capitola-Soquel Community and learning about the history and culture of this special area. If you’d like to know a little more about me please feel free to view our district website ( Let me update you on some exciting activities in our district.

Human Resources

As I’m sure you would agree, the single most important element in any successful organization is the people who work there. This is especially true in a school district where we are entrusted with our most precious resource, our children. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to some new SUESD employees.

Soquel Elementary School – Jamie Herman (4th Grade Teacher), Portlan Beckman (Special Day Teacher), Hilda Hernandez-Mesa (Reading Intervention Teacher), and Alma Rodriguez-Gutierrez (Library Specialist).

Main Street School – Sarah Galvan (3rd Grade Teacher), Allison Lovell (Resource Specialist), and Jessica Parsons (1st Grade Teacher).

Santa Cruz Gardens School – Valerie Peet (ELD Teacher).

Opal Cliffs School – Kelli Cole (Transitional Kindergarten Teacher).

New Brighton Middle School – Doug Heisinger (Math Teacher), Daniella Laset (Science Teacher), Kristen Rinaldi (Math Teacher), Stephen Raser (Special Day Teacher), LeighAnn Work (Science Teacher), and Andreas Zappacosta (Humanities Teacher).

Finally, we have some new folks who will be helping out at multiple sites including Patricia Daniels (Inclusion Specialist), Robin Forbes (School Nurse), Olivia Owens (School Psychologist), and Cassedy Sullivan (Speech Therapist).

My first impression of SUESD is that it is like a big family. Welcome to the family everyone!

Local Control & Accountability Plan (LCAP)

The LCAP is the plan that drives everything for school districts in California. A major challenge with such a comprehensive plan is to make sure it is focused, clear, and not unwieldy. SUESD’s LCAP is very focused. In fact, the plan has now been pared down to three goals:

All students receive high quality classroom instruction and standards-based curriculum that promotes college and career readiness.

Through the use of data-driven learning cycles, research-based interventions and/or acceleration opportunities will be provided to students to close the achievement gap.

All schools will be safe, inclusive and welcoming environments that engage the community in partnerships that support learning.

Throughout the year I will update you on our progress on SUESD’s LCAP goals.

Curriculum & Instruction

Last summer, SUESD proudly implemented its first summer school program in more than a decade. We built on that and this year Summer School ran five weeks and served 90 students in grades 1st – 3rd. The class sizes were kept small (15 students) so each child could receive individual and small group attention.

The program consisted of rotations of math, language arts, music, and technology with a bit of physical education as well. This variety of offerings kept the program fresh and interesting for our children while mixing in some good solid instruction in the core curriculum. I was able to visit the program in action and it was clear that our teachers had created an environment that made students excited to be a part of summer school.

Teachers are the heartbeat of any school district and it is apparent that SUESD has made a commitment to ensuring our teachers have quality professional development. This year all TK-5th grade teachers will participate in seven days of professional development called Cognitively Guided Instruction, CGI. This research based professional development is not a curriculum; it is designed to work with existing math curriculum. CGI is a way to teach mathematics that builds on children’s natural problem solving strategies. It focuses on what students easily understand and what is difficult for them. The specific strategies that teachers learn are to help them understand how students think so they can guide them. The training is part of a three to five year commitment.

Governance Team

SUESD’s Board of Trustees and I will be taking part in the “Good Beginnings” Workshop on July 29, 2016. The California School Boards Association (CSBA) has designed this workshop based on the its Four Building Blocks of Effective Governance:

  • Unity of Purpose
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Positive Governance Team Culture (norms)
  • Supportive Structures and Processes (protocols)

I am very thankful to start my tenure here with such a positive and proactive workshop.

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