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Santa Cruz Parent

(Ads) WelcomeSantaCruzParent.jpgDear Parents, Teachers, Friends,

We are excited about the upcoming Independent School Fair and hope to see you there.

SantaCruzParent is sponsoring this event because we believe that choice in education elevates the quality of all educational opportunities in the community and are passionate about helping families access information.

No matter what your plans for schooling next year --independent, public neighborhood, public charter, homeschooling-- this is an excellent opportunity to add to your knowledge about choices in our community.

Choosing the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make on his or her behalf.  I recall a time when our young children were attending a school we loved.  We were enchanted with a certain house and contemplating a move.  I visited the school the children would attend, then experienced anguish and sleepless nights three nights running.  I was armed with good information, and my gut kicked in too, to help me make the best choice for my children --staying with the best school for them.

So come, meet representatives from many fine independent schools, Preschool - Grade 12, and explore your options!

Parmalee, Desiree and Vanessa

What is an Independent School?

(Site Photos) SchoolChildrenRunning.jpgWhat is an Independent School?

Independent schools are private preschool, elementary and secondary schools which usually are directed by a board of trustees. Being free of outside control and funding, they are able to set their own standards and mission, and to serve particular families and children.

Some work with the academically or artistically gifted, others with average to above-average children, others with learning-disabled or those with unsatisfactory previous school experiences. Some offer boarding as well as day programs.

All focus on the needs of the individual child, within a range of curricula from traditional to progressive. One of the schools in our Group may be the right choice for your family.

What Can an Independent School Offer?

In independent schools your child will be known and known well by a variety of adults.

(Site Photos) School_HandsUp.jpgIndependent schools focus on strong academic programs and character development in a secure, attentive environment. Their teachers are outstanding; many have earned advanced degrees. Independent schools are generally smaller than other schools, allowing them to offer individual attention, a sense of community, and the chance for each student to excel. They place special emphasis on extracurricular programs, including visual and performing arts, athletics, student guidance, leadership programs, and community service.

Among independent schools, families can find everything from a classical curriculum including the study of Latin and Greek to innovative methods of team teaching, collaborative learning, and technology-based education. Today's independent schools seek a diverse student body, and most offer financial aid to enable families of all income levels to attend.

How and When Do We Apply?

Families apply to a school after receiving materials from its office of admission and visiting the campus. The application process may require testing, observation of younger children, transcripts and written statements from older children, letters of recommendation, and in the case of those seeking financial aid, a completed statement of need. The most important step in the process is to learn about the child, so that the right match can be made.

Most schools begin accepting applications for the next school year in the fall, and ask that families complete the application process by mid-January; candidates are notified in early March. Other schools may have later application opportunities, but in all cases, early application is advisable, particularly for those seeking financial aid.

(Site Photos) School_ChildTeachingChildren.jpgWe've seen articles that rank independent schools. Will these help us find the right school?

No. In fact, rankings misrepresent schools and mislead families. The best school for any given child is the one that can best meet the needs of that particular child. The task of choosing a school is to match a child's abilities, needs and interests with a school's mission, values, and resources. Rankings and "best at" designations take this complicated, highly individualized, task and make it seem as easy as running your thumb down a chart.

How do we get started finding the right school for the student in our family?

Go to the Independent School Fair where you can meet and talk with representatives from most of the independent schools in the Central Coast area. Go to School Open Houses. Open Houses and Visiting Days, sometimes called Shadow Days are opportunities for families and students to visit schools without having to make an appointment.

This is an edited version of an article by the Association of Independent Schools of New England.

Click on the image to visit the school's website

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 I am a teacher. I accept the challenge to be sagacious and tenacious in teaching every student because I believe that every student can learn. I accept the responsibility to create a learning environment conducive to optimum achievement academically, socially, and emotionally.

I actively pursue excellence, for my students and myself. I provide a model of decorum and respect that guides my students as well as honors them. I affirm superlative expectations for my students and myself. I cherish every student. I am a teacher. I change the world, one student at a time.

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Good Shepherd
Catholic School

Preschool-8th Grade
Give your child the advantage of a stimulating education on a safe campus with Catholic cultural values.

2727 Mattison Ln
Santa Cruz

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 I am an intelligent and assertive student.

My destiny is in my hands. I will overcome all obstacles which stand in my way. The decisions I make today will affect the rest of my life.

I have great expectations for myself. I accept the challenge to become the best that I can be.

Yesterday's failures are behind me. Today's successes are now before me. I will make today the very best day of all, For this day begins the rest of my life.

Aptos Academy

PreK - 8

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Inspired teachers

arts-enriched programs

WASC Accredited

1940 Bonita Dr, Aptos

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Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

            -William Butler Yates

Founded in 1970, Gateway School is a private, independent CAIS-accredited school in Santa Cruz, California. Gateway offers a challenging and enriched academic program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

126 Eucalyptus Ave
Santa Cruz
423-0341 x 302

Questions to Ask

Administrators use the words "educational philosophy" and "educational approach" - but what do they actually mean?

If a school you're interested in uses these terms, ask staff members there to explain in lay language what the words mean to them. But in general, the following description sums up three common terms in helpful ways:

"A school's curriculum and teaching methods often are based on one or a combination of three approaches: The traditional is structured and teacher-centered, with clear expectations and rules. The three Rs are emphasized. The developmental is based on the premise that children learn and grow in different stages. Self-discovery and social skills are given greater weight. The progressive is student-driven, with less emphasis on such conventions as letter grades. A school may be organized as a miniature community that sees the world as a classroom."

- Source: "The Primer," part of the September 2006 School Issue of Los Angeles magazine

Everyone says you should read the mission statement to understand particular schools better. But don't they all sound alike?

Many mission statements do use similar wording - but that doesn't mean the wording won't tell you a great deal about the school's goals. Think about it this way: Without a doubt, the school community spent weeks writing and rewriting the mission statement to reflect the school's own goals and values. The key is to read it carefully with an eye to what it tells you (however subtly) about the school's priorities. Sometimes it comes down to noting what's in each sentence's main clause and what's in the subordinate clauses.

Educational consultant Ethna Hopper of the School Counseling Group in Washington, DC, offers these examples:

* If a school's primary goal is to prepare students academically for the best colleges, one of the first phrases in the mission statement will speak of preparation for college.
* If it places a heavy emphasis on values, it will speak of forming students of courage and character.
* If it's a school that helps those who haven't done well, it will speak of building motivation to achieve.

But again: If you have questions about the mission, ask.

How can I put what I hear from other parents in perspective?

It's natural - and often beneficial - to talk to friends and neighbors about schools. But don't believe everything you hear. Sometimes adults fixate on a reputation that's years out-of-date, based on what they heard when they were in school. Sometimes opinions can be irrational; one educational consultant had a parent who wouldn't let her child apply to a certain school because it had turned her down 30 years before.
So do listen to what others say - but investigate the facts for yourself.


Six Special Considerations

Veteran admissions director Fred McGaughan of Newark Academy in New Jersey suggests paying close attention to these criteria as you study schools' materials and visit:

1. Location. Convenience matters, especially if you want your child to take part in school productions and go to ball games. Having to drive 45 minutes each way to school is a serious drawback.

2. Size. Find out both (a) average class size and (b) overall number of students in the school. Then think about what these statistics mean. Social opportunities may not be as great in a small school, but your child may have more of a chance to be captain of a team or president of a club.

3. Educational philosophy. Dig deep into this issue. Ask questions such as, how are classes actually taught? How are expectations conveyed? How are students tested? Then sit in on classes to see how the philosophy plays out.

4. Curriculum. Look carefully at the order in which such core courses as math, the humanities, and science are taught. Can you see a logic to how the subjects fit together? Is there a strong interdisciplinary emphasis, so that what students study in English meshes with history?

5. Faculty. Examine the faculty list (often found online or in the recruitment materials) to see where the teachers went to college, whether their degrees match with what they teach, and whether they have advanced degrees in the subjects they teach.

6. Facilities. In addition to considering the overall condition of the school, think about special needs. If your child is interested in drama or sports, does the school have a good theater and playing fields? How plentiful and up-to-date are computers for student use?


What to Consider When Considering the Possibilities

Call potential schools to request admissions literature, and examine their websites. Then compare what you read there with what you're looking for in your ideal school. Among the questions you should ask yourself about each school:

Basic Facts

* How many students does the school have?
* Where is it, and how does the location affect your transportation needs? Does the school provide any kind of transportation? How much does it cost?
* For high schools, what are the graduation requirements? What percentage of students enter college, and what kinds of colleges do they attend?
* Is the school accredited, and if so, by whom?

Educational Quality

* What is the school's mission, and does its philosophy appeal to you?
* Does it have a particular educational focus?
* Is the atmosphere competitive? Nurturing? Or what?

Beyond the Basics

* What types of learning experiences are available-in class, on the playing field, in extracurricular activities, and in community service?
* Does the school appear to have a diverse student body and faculty?
* Do the school materials discuss parental involvement?
* Do the kids in the pictures look like your child?


* What is the tuition?
* Are there extra charges, such as for books, lab fees, transportation, and so on?
* What are the school's financing options?
* What is the financial aid application process? When are the deadlines?

And Finally

* Does the school seem to meet your child's needs?


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Santa Cruz County
January 18, 2010
Welcome! See you Wednesday!
What is an Independent School?
Click on the image to visit the school's website
Questions to Ask
Six Special Considerations
What to Consider When Considering the Possibilities

Click to view EventsClick to view our Business Directory

Central Coast

Participating Schools

Chartwell Pre-8

Children's Center of San Lorenzo Valley Pre

Children's Preschool Santa Cruz Pre

Common Threads Montessori Pre

Discoveryland Preschool

Early Childhood Learning Center Pre

Empire Academy 9-12

Gateway K-8

Georgianna Bruce Kirby Preparatory School 6-12

Good Shepherd Catholic School  Pre-8

Holy Cross Catholic School Pre-8

Mount Hermon Play School Pre

Montessori Scotts Valley Pre-3

Monte Vista Christian School 6-12

Monterey Bay Academy 9-12

Mount Madonna School Pre-12

Orchard School K-6

Salesian Elementary and Junior High School K-8

Santa Catalina K-12

Santa Cruz Children's School K-6

Santa Cruz Montessori Pre-8

Santa Cruz Waldorf School K-8

Scotts Valley Children's Center Pre

Spring Hill Advanced School K-8

St. Francis Catholic High School 9-12

Stevenson School K-12

Tara Redwood School Pre-3

The Aptos Academy Pre-8

The New High School Project 9-12

VHM Christian School K-8 York  8-12

York School K-12

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Suki Weighs In!

(Site Photos) SukiRedHead_138.jpgLots of parents go for the school in their neighborhood and have positive experiences. Neighborhood schools serve many children well, and we are lucky that in our area we have so many dedicated educators who are not letting our state's foibles discourage their teaching.

However, sometimes the local school doesn't work out. Perhaps your child has an unusual learning style. Perhaps your child needs a faster pace, less testing, a more natural environment, or a focus on a particular academic area. Perhaps your child doesn't have any special needs but your family does. If your neighborhood school is large and you are looking for a small community, that's probably a bad fit. If you are a no TV, no junkfood family, you might be uncomfortable with your local school's culture. Perhaps your child has done well in elementary school, but hates the social scene at her middle school. Perhaps your child's grades have slipped because he is bored. Maybe you just like uniforms!

Read more >>>

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Open Houses are opportunities for families and students to visit schools without having to make an appointment.

A list of scheduled open houses appears in our Events Calendar. If you are looking for school open houses use the pull-down menu to select Schools. You can refine this by selecting a date range. Click on Search.

The calendar listing gives you all the information about the open house that the school has provided and will link to the school's website.

Always call the school to confirm the date and times of the open house.

January Menu

All-American Pot Roast

Asian-Infused Flank Steak

Chicken di Tuscany

Baked Chicken, Tilapia or Tofu with Olive and Tomato Sauce

Southwest Beef or Vegetable Fajitas

Greek Seasoned Pork Kabobs

Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

Sloppy Joes!

Savory Turkey Meatloaf with Apricot Pepper Glaze

Apple Blueberry Crisp

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