Soquel Union Elementary School

Superintendent's Message
Henry J. Castaniada

Superintendent Henry J. Castaniada

The Start of a New School Year

During the summer months we were extremely busy hiring excellent new teachers, front office school staff, a Director of Curriculum and a Director of Student Services. Each of these individuals shares our common core belief that the most important job is to protect our children and to provide them with a wonderful learning environment. Since our enrollment continues to increase year after year, each of our schools have hired additional teachers and a part-time counselor. Their positive outlook and enthusiasm is terrific. Our students, parents and community at large will quickly notice their "can do" attitude.

Ms. Moira Barker is our new Director of Curriculum. She will invest a significant amount of time in creating opportunities to expand our instructional technology programs, including the expansion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math) curriculum at each of our schools. This summer a number of our teachers attended a technology summit held in Silicon Valley. The focus of this summit was to provide examples that will allow teachers to integrate technology into their classroom on a daily basis. Preparing our students for the 21st Century requires us to revisit our curriculum programs and to obtain technology to allow our students to explore learning beyond the classroom.

Dr. Lurena Brubaker is our new Director of Student Services. She is a seasoned school psychologist from Clovis Unified School District. We are very fortunate to have Lurena join our team and provide the essential leadership required in the area of student services. She will be working closely with our school principals and our Director of Curriculum to create an RTI (Response to Intervention) program that will provide our staff with opportunities to explore new instructional strategies.

Under the leadership of Mr. Jim Dupre, our Supervisor of Maintenance and Operations, all of our schools now have terrific curb appeal! Mr. Dupre and his staff, Brian Brazil, Steve Cartwright and Craig Feeney, worked endlessly to beautify all of our school campuses. Soquel Elementary School has been completely repainted and now the architectural beauty is easily noticed. In addition to painting the entire school, we also renovated the entire multi-use room with new lighting, interior painting, ceiling tiles and a new sound system. Mr. Dupre also spearheaded a major project at New Brighton Middle School that culminated in the installation of a new quad area that is absolutely student friendly and will be a fantastic location for students to gather during lunchtime...

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Student Highlights & Programs

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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.