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Santa Cruz Education Foundation celebrates six years of successful collaboration

On September 25, 2013 the Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Trustees voted to renew their commitment to and funding for a longstanding collaboration between the school district, the City of Santa Cruz and the Commission for the Prevention of Violence against Women. The district will provide $9850.00 toward self-defense and safety training conducted by Leonie Sherman and other City staff during PE classes at Mission Hill Middle School, Branciforte Middle School, the Branciforte Small Schools campus, Harbor High School, Santa Cruz High School and Soquel High School.

Support for student safety training was particularly timely, as Santa Cruz High students responsibly and proactively reported suspicious activity near the campus, resulting in an arrest yesterday.

Sherman demonstrates the safe fall with the aid of a student

Sherman demonstrates the safe fall with the aid of a student

The program was the brainchild of current SCCS Trustee Cynthia Hawthorne during her tenure as president of the Santa Cruz Education Foundation.  Implemented in 2007 in response to a series of increasingly alarming incidents affecting students en route to and from school and on the heels of a brutal assault in the Harvey West Park area, Foundation leaders sought a way to meet the state requirement for self-defense training in a way that would have a real impact on students, providing tools they could employ in their daily lives. The program coaches students to be aware of their surroundings, to choose safe situations over the risky, to carry themselves confidently and to respond to physical threats instinctively and effectively.  Coaches emphasize avoiding risk, returning to a safe place, how to get help and using physical response only as a last resort. The Foundation provided the initial funding at Mission Hill and Santa Cruz High School. Since that time, the district and city collaboration has sustained funding, providing nearly 8,000 students with essential tools for personal safety.