Soquel Union Elementary School

Superintendent's Message
Henry J. Castaniada

Superintendent Henry J. Castaniada

The 2013-14 School Year Was a Perfect Partnership

It is hard to believe that we are completing the 2013-14 school year. Throughout this school year our children and staff have benefited tremendously from the incredible support that was demonstrated by our parents. We were able to create dynamic learning opportunities through our talented staff and through the investments of our parents who sponsored activities, donated their time, attended fundraisers and were proactive in supporting the daily instruction of our students. As Superintendent I am extremely grateful to work side by side with an outstanding staff and a tremendous parental support community. Having the opportunity to visit our five schools, Santa Cruz Gardens, Soquel Elementary, Main Street School, Opal Cliffs School and New Brighton Middle School throughout this year was definitely my highpoint. In summarizing the 2013-14 school year, here is a view of some of the highlights at each of our five schools.

Main Street School
Main Street School has created a dynamic Life Lab Program that is parallel to the philosophy of the Life Lab program at UCSC. A significant number of parent volunteers have worked endlessly throughout the school year to provide all of their K-5 students with opportunities in the area of Science, Nutrition, Math, Art and Music. Giving students the chance to engage in real life learning experiences is a perfect blend for academic rigor and relevance in our curriculum. Students learn lifelong skills and are important members of a collaborative project that prepares them for their future.

New Brighton Middle School
Ms. Jo-Ann Panzardi, Engineering Department Chair and Instructor for Cabrillo College, assisted in implementing an exciting and engaging Engineering Club at New Brighton Middle School. Ms. Panzardi, with at least eight of her students from the engineering department at Cabrillo College, helped to generate an Engineering Club on Friday afternoons. The enthusiasm and excitement of this club was exactly the perfect preparation for our students to engage in academic rigor and relevance in the areas of Mathematics and Engineering. The Engineering Club provided an environment where higher level thinking skills were required and created opportunities in a team approach to build successful projects... [ Read more ]

Student Highlights & Programs

[ News Archive ]

Excitement in Education

Soquel School District Targets Underperforming Latino Boys

Read the article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, published on March 2, 2014.

NBMS Engineering Club

The Engineering Club, run by students from Cabrillo College's Engineering Department, is a popular after school activity at NBMS. The middle school students have been enjoying the challenge of the club which takes place after school, on Fridays, in Room 37. Whether designing windmills and testing the amount of power they produce, or experimenting with building the strongest bridges they can, the students are relishing the challenge of building, testing and refining their designs. As well as testing their design skills, students are also developing their cooperative skills, collectively working in teams of three, using science, technology, engineering and math to solve the engineering challenge of the week. Stop by room 37 at 1:30 PM on Fridays to witness our young engineers in action!

Main Street School's After School Math Club

During weekly after-school Math Club meetings at Main Street School, 25 fourth and fifth grade students work in cooperative groups to develop their mathematical thinking. Students play math games (such as Krypto and Set), solve complex problems, and discuss and present solution strategies. In addition, fifth grade participants will have an opportunity to compete both individually and as a team in the countywide math competition in May. Students love the club so much that one student, Cathryn Perry, exclaimed, "I wish Math Club was every day!" Others have expressed dismay when time is up, wanting to keep working on math problems. Are you ready to test your math skills? Here are two problems students are solving. 1. Christine has homing pigeons and seeing-eye dogs. Together these have 36 heads and 80 feet. She needs 2 pounds of birdseed for every 4 birds, and 10 pounds of dog food for every 2 dogs. How many pounds of each type of food does she need? 2. How many squares are there on a chess board? (Hint: there is 1 large square, 81 small squares, and many more squares in between sizes such as 2 by 2, 3 by 3 squares, etc.) Are YOU smarter than a fifth grader?

Soquel Elementary School's Writer's Workshop

Soquel Elementary is excited to announce that all our teachers have embarked on, and are dedicated to, a school wide focus of Writers Workshop this year! Our teachers have seen the need to ensure all students are writing daily and that we are using the best curriculum. During the writing workshop, students are invited to live, work, and learn as writers. Teachers will be promoting learning through asking students to observe their lives and the world around them while collecting information, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing well-crafted narrative and expository texts. Students will receive direct instruction in the form of a mini-lesson and a mid-workshop teaching point and sharing their writing at the end of each workshop. Our teachers will explicitly name a skill that proficient writers use, demonstrate the skill, and provide students with a brief interval of guided practice using that skill. Students are also given time to write and to apply the skills and strategies they've learned towards their own writing projects. As students write, the teacher provides feedback that is designed to move students along trajectories of development. The feedback is given through one-to-one conferences and small group instruction, and includes instructional complements and teaching.

Santa Cruz Gardens STEM Classes

The new year looks exciting for Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary and Opal Cliffs schools, because we will be bringing STEM education into the classrooms, from T-K through 5th grade. Through the non-profit, Learn to Discover, and with generous support from our Home & School Club, we plan to offer Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics (STEM) classes during the school day covering subjects like robotics, stop motion clay animation, theme park design, intro to programming, and oceanography. Every student on our campus will be exposed to a rich, hands-on, 21st century learning experience designed to enrich the core Science curriculum, with the goal that their imaginations be lit up with a lifelong love of all things STEM.