I thank the Santa Cruz Education Foundation for welcoming me to Santa Cruz City Schools and for providing me with this opportunity to introduce myself to the community. The Foundation is one of the many assets that make Santa Cruz City Schools a fantastic place to be.
My new position is a sort of homecoming. I have lived in the area since 1973, and began my professional career as a student teacher at Gault School in 1975. Since that time, I have served as a teacher, principal, curriculum director, and assistant superintendent in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and superintendent of the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District. I have taught many of SCCS’s teachers and administrators as adjunct faculty at San Jose State University. For the past eleven years, I have served as Associate Director at the New Teacher Center at UCSC, supporting school districts across California and the United States. My wife Katy Stonebloom is a teacher at Aromas School and serves on the board of trustees of Cabrillo Community College. My kids are both successful public school graduates; Ariel is a bilingual teacher at Hyde School in Watsonville, and Solomon is a doctoral candidate in plant biology at UC Berkeley.
It is my great pleasure and privilege to join Santa Cruz City School’s outstanding team as superintendent. I know of no school district in California with stronger community support or a stronger commitment to offering a rich and rigorous instructional program in academics and the arts. Santa Cruz City Schools are the best schools in Santa Cruz County and getting better. The Santa Cruz Education Foundation is one of Santa Cruz City School’s most important partners.
Our governing board, through its strategic goals, has focused district efforts on insuring the success of all students, including English language learners, gifted and talented students, and students with special needs. We seek to challenge every child with a rigorous and engaging instructional program, and we join President Obama in striving to insure that every SCCS graduate goes on to post-secondary education in an academic or career and technical institution.
As I work with the board, community, and staff to plan our district’s future, these are some of the principles that will guide my actions and recommendations:
- Teachers and principals are what make for good schools. We will focus our resources on insuring that teachers and principals have what they need and that effective teaching happens in every classroom, every day.
- Teachers and principals are professionals who improve their practice through collaboration. We will work together to learn from one another.
- Effective schools and school districts are places where people trust one another and share a commitment to their students. We will focus on building school culture and climate.
- Instructional rigor, a rich curriculum and high expectations are good for everybody. Our world is an amazing and mysterious place, and students and adults thrive when they are challenged to explore our world, and to take on tough questions and complex problems.
- Schools are a partnership between staff, students, parents and community. We will do everything we can to build even stronger partnerships in support of our students.
- Public schools like ours are essential to our society. SCCS will learn from and compete with private and charter schools, and will continue to serve as the heart of K-12 education in our community.
- The current budget crisis will strengthen our focus upon our students. Our core commitment is to our kids, who only pass once (we hope) through any grade or course. We will take our fight for adequate resources to Sacramento, while maintaining our focus upon teaching and learning at home.
Over the next few months, my most important job is to listen to staff, students and community so that I can best serve the district. To that end, you can help me by responding to this survey. Your responses will help me to develop my personal goals, and to work with the board and others to develop new district strategic goals and metrics, which I expect we will adopt by the Fall.