Silence Is Not Golden

“[M]y silence is not benign because it protects and maintains the racial hierarchy and my place within it.” — Robin DiAngelo

Conversations about race in America are hard. It’s easy to offend, or to be offended, in these discussions; we quickly and sometimes unknowingly reveal our ignorance, our limits, and our biases. And yet, these conversations are also essential. As the 1619 Project laid out last fall, racism and its legacy has shaped the history of this country for the past 400 years in profound ways. If we are to guide our children towards creating a more just and equitable world, then those of us who are white must think critically about the dominant narratives of society, wrestle with uncomfortable facts about systemic racism, and begin to acknowledge how our racial privilege has unfairly functioned to our benefit.

This summer, our faculty and staff read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and we have slowly been re-reading it and discussing the ideas it contains. We have had to learn a new definition of racism that incorporates a structural dimension to society, rather than simply blaming individual bad actors. We have had to grapple with the fact that we are not exempt from the forces of racial socialization, and to confront the idea of white solidarity, or wanting to save face in front of others. We have had to recognize that we need to have an authentic interest in the perspectives of people of color, because the voice and experience of white people dominates national discourse. And we have had to lean into the fact, sometimes painfully, that our good intentions matter much less than the impact our words and actions have had on people of color.

Here are some of the questions with which we have been grappling:

  • What made a school good? Who went to good schools? Who went to bad schools? If the schools in your area were racially segregated, why didn’t you attend school together? Were “their” schools considered equal to, better than, or worse than, yours? If you went to school together, did you all sit together in the cafeteria? If not, why not? Were the honors/AP classes and the lower track classes equally racially integrated? If not, why not?
  • Colorblindness (saying you don’t see race or that race has no meaning) is a form of racism. How do you see/have you seen color-blind ideology in your own life and teaching practice? How does color blindness show up in school and how does it impact students of color? What evidence do you have that color-blind policies are not leading to more equitable outcomes for students of color?
  • How does racial belonging play out in school? Do students of color feel they belong? How do you know? How is the burden of race a reality for students of color? What are some examples of how they would feel burdened by race? 

Last year our school celebrated Kind is Cool awards, which were given out at our First Friday assemblies to recognize students who had embodied our school value of kindness. There’s no doubt in my mind that kindness continues to be important to children and adults alike, but as Robin DiAngelo points out in this short video, kindness will not end racism; what will make a difference is justice. So that’s where we’re headed.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 20th, is the United Nations’ World Day of Social Justice. Gateway School’s definition of citizenship explicitly calls for teachers to help students operate on multiple levels, from the personal and local to the national and global through curriculum that is real, topical, sensitive, and moral. We invite you, as parents and caregivers, to similarly engage with your children on the topic of social justice; you may be surprised at their deep understanding of this idea. And perhaps you’d enjoy thinking together about what you can do to improve the lives of people in other parts of the world, as children are often eager to get involved in supporting entrepreneurship through micro-lending websites, supporting health and nutrition programs, and establishing connections with rural schools. 

Teaching our children that they have the power to promote justice — now that is a transformational education.

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

“You must take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Other America (1967)

Columbus discovered America.
The Constitution proclaimed that all men are created equal.
The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

Perhaps, like me, you were taught these (and many other) so-called facts without reference to the full truths and historical context within which these ideas were presented — that tens of thousands of indigenous people were on this continent before Columbus, and that the national holiday in his honor was due to the efforts of Italian Americans who aimed to be culturally assimilated as White in the early 20th Century; that enslaved peoples were widely considered property and not humans during the Colonial era, and the “three-fifths compromise” in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 counted slaves as people only for the purpose of giving southern states more seats in Congress; and that the 19th Amendment of 1920 gave only White women the right to vote, and it wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that all people regardless of race or gender held the lawful right to vote.

Though I used to look back very fondly at my K-12 experience, I have increasingly become more concerned about the brazen white supremacy embedded in my early schooling. I remember and am grateful for the environment of love and care I experienced from teachers, but now I wonder if all children felt that, and how it worked out for those who did not — especially the black and brown children with whom I did not develop lasting friendships. I remember the feeling of personal success as I internalized knowledge and developed academic skills, but now I wonder how the experiences of other students shaped their perspective on the classroom and themselves — especially the students that struggled with traditional academic content and instruction. And I am full of questions about why my teachers did not bring critical consciousness to decolonize the curriculum by exposing the ways in which narratives presented as facts marginalized and erased the experiences of people of color in America.

I’m grateful to see our community of educators and families lean into the work of becoming better educated on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion this year, and how we are translating these growing understandings into new classroom curriculum and practices. One of the crucial steps that we adults can do to help our children thrive now and throughout their lives is to vigorously continue to surface our assumptions, dismantle our biases, and educate ourselves about the perspectives of those who experience life very differently from our own — whether by dint of gender, race, class, body type, nationality, or other facet of human experience. It is our responsibility to first seek out the voices of people with those diverse experiences, and then dive deeply into their words and worlds so as to shed new light on their experiences of our shared society, and in doing so better illuminate the complex truths of humanity to and for ourselves.

Later this month the United States takes a national holiday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While many of us are familiar with I Have A Dream, his speech delivered during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, he left behind an incredible body of work that continues to be relevant to the work of social justice today. Whether his damning identification of the particular challenge posed by moderate Whites in Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963), his clarity in naming racial injustice, poverty, and war as society’s three main problems in The Quest for Peace and Justice (1964) and The Three Evils of Society (1967), or his radical intellectualism foreseeing the neo-conservative movement that arose after his death in The Other America (1967), Dr. King’s work continues to loom large over the modern society more than 50 years after his assassination. 

I hope you join me in finding inspiration and wonder by diving deeply into the words and thoughts of Dr. King, and a renewed optimism in our community’s efforts to teach our children the full truths of American history, along with the development of their moral compass, their critical thinking skills, and the agency and confidence they need to become positive change agents as they grow into the next generation of civic participants and activists.

What an exciting time to work in education. What a gift to be at Gateway!

Welcome back,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Where Experience and Innovation Meet

Dear Gateway families,

I was fortunate to witness two extraordinary events in our program on Monday, December 10th.

Archeologist Dustin McKenzie

In the morning, archeologist Dustin McKenzie spoke with our Third Grade students about the lives of the indigenous people of this area, while examining artifacts including a mortar estimated to be over 1,000 years old that was found in the backyard of a Gateway family, as well as chert knives and atlatl (spear-throwing devices). Mr. McKenzie spoke about how these tools would have been used in the daily lives of indigenous people and why it’s important to contact archeologists when native artifacts are found, to a sea of raised hands and questions bursting on the lips of students.

In the afternoon, the curtain went up on our Middle School theater elective production of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for our Upper School students, with a second show for families in the evening. The story of two groups of teenagers struggling to find their place in the world, over the course of 90 minutes our students brought alive the joy, despair and conflict of these nuanced characters. While some of our students are committed actors, for others this elective was the first time they had ever been in a play, and the class provided the chance for them to try something new in a safe, supportive setting.

Johnnycakes and Ponyboy

These two interdisciplinary experiences gave students the opportunity to think and use the behaviors of scholarship, citizenship, compassion and justice that sit at the heart of our mission. The students (both audiences and actors) were deeply and fully engaged in the activities; they were intellectually curious about the ideas presented and discussed; and they were open-hearted to the needs and experiences of others, and the way other people’s lives unfold. By grappling with how to responsibly act if you discover an indigenous artifact, what to do in the face of unfair social pressures and constraints, and how to reconcile the good and bad deeds in our lives, these educational experiences captured the essence of our educational model, and I was grateful to all of the faculty and staff who helped make them possible.

Speaking of being grateful, in the run-up to the gift giving that characterizes the season, several people have asked me for help with resources to find books written by authors from diverse backgrounds, including race, gender, sexual identity, and more. I want to use this opportunity to share the diversebooks.org resources with our community. The research is clear that children experience better academic outcomes when they have more books at home; as we intentionally move towards fostering healthy perspectives on diversity and equity, having books written by authors from diverse backgrounds dealing with diverse topics becomes an effective tool for families to reinforce messages of inclusion and justice to children.

Cheers to you all as 2019 winds to a close; I hope to see you at the Winter Solstice Festival put on by the Gateway Family Association on December 18th!

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts

Head of School

How To Raise Kind Kids

An article published in SantaCruzParent.com on 1/31/19
by Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School, Gateway School

I have not yet met a single person who does not want to raise their children to be kind, both now, as we raise them, and also later in life as an adult.

I know many parents who want most of all for their children to experience happiness in life, and many others who wish for their children to have success in their work and activities, and still others who prioritize their children having good friends and loving relationships. All of them also want their children to be kind.

Kindness matters for so many reasons. Research has shown that being kind not only makes other people happy, it also directly benefits us too, in both mood and health. Plus, as we embody our potential most fully when we are kind, we create safer, more welcoming homes and schools.

So how do we nurture our children’s innate capacity to be kind and good in today’s complex world? We face vast challenges from a toxic political culture that vilifies and demonizes political opponents; a generational culture of entitlement that spoils children instead of setting expectations and holding them accountable; and a hyper-sexualized, consumer-driven media that places value on looks and materialism, rather than heart-centered connection.

Though television can introduce many problems, it also holds great possibility and promise for teaching children to be kind, perhaps best personified by the work of Fred Rogers. A new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, chronicles his life’s work; for over thirty years, in his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children in a simple, direct fashion, while modelling kindness, creativity, and compassion.  Mr. Rogers’ career presented a coherent, loving view about how we should best speak to children about important matters and how television could be used as a positive force in our society.

Although we can see kindness in action, it is much more than a behavior; it is an inner attitude and a concern for another’s happiness that motivates those actions.  Though there may not be a comparable show on television today for our children (though some shows like Wonder Pets and Octonauts contain elements), in his 2018 book How To Raise Kind Kids, Thomas Lickona gives six concrete suggestions for how families can raise kind kids:

  1. Make character a top priority in your family.
  2. Show your children you love them through affirmation and affection, together time, and meaningful communication.
  3. Exercise your authority wisely: be authoritative, not authoritarian or permissive.
  4. Give your kids a voice and responsibility in the family.
  5. Extend compassion beyond the family, and give your children the experience of helping non-family members.
  6. Foster a noble vision of life — a belief in something bigger than themselves, and the desire to use their gifts to make a positive difference in the world.

Lickona’s book covers many other essential topics in raising children to be kind, including virtues and respect, discipline, family meetings, getting control of screens, developing good habits. There’s also a chapter that speaks directly to Mr. Roger’s career, which is how to talk about things that matter.

As partners in parenting and child-rearing, teachers and schools also play a critical role in helping children learn to be kind, compassion and inclusive. Children have moral lives from the very beginning, with the innate capacity for kindness as well as cruelty; schools are experimental laboratories where children have the opportunity to make mistakes, recover and do the repair work essential to their healthy moral development. Schools that contribute to the development of kindness will regularly teach children to be courteous and caring; they will have a coordinated approach to teaching character, emotional intelligence, and social-emotional learning; they will integrate cooperative learning into their instructional practices, because interdependency is as important as autonomy; and they will find appropriate ways to listen to and include student voices. As Lickona writes,

“If your children can be in a kind, respectful, character-building school environment for the many hours they’re not with you, then what you’re doing at home will be honored and supported. That will be a blessing for your children and for you.”

Feeling happy because we’ve made someone else happy is the essence of kindness. And it would make me very happy to have you join us at a free screening and conversation of Won’t You be My Neighbor on Tuesday, February 5th at 6:00pm. Childcare is free, and will be provided by the After School Staff at Gateway School. Let’s raise the children of Santa Cruz to value kindness in thought and action.


Decolonizing Our Minds Will Change the World

Dear Gateway families,

As we begin today, let’s take a moment to give acknowledgement . . . I want to acknowledge the first people who lived upon this land, the very land where we are now. We acknowledge the many tribes that gathered here, the Rumsien, the Amah Mutsun, and those of the Awaswas language group, to name a few. The first people lived with respect upon this land for thousands of years, and many still live here today.

With these words, the annual Third Grade River Day performance, one of Gateway’s best-loved traditions, kicked off in the Lower School Commons. Besides being the very first student performance to ever occur in that space (and how perfect and lovely it is for this purpose!), this statement marked a new way of launching the River Day play, as Julie and Kaia, our Third Grade teachers, recited a land acknowledgement for the Indigenous People who traditionally inhabited this land.

3rd Grade River Day play

If you are wondering what a land acknowledgement is, you are likely not alone. I first learned about land acknowledgements in September, during our faculty training on Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice Standards and Anti-Bias Framework. According to Northwestern.edu, “a Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories . . . To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history.

3rd Grade River Day play

As we actively work to make our curriculum and program reflect our school-wide value to courageously promote a just society, the small but important step of making a land acknowledgment during the wonderful place-based, interdisciplinary River Day project reflects a much larger shift in our consciousness as an institution. We must act upon the power we have to make positive change if we are to move towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive civil society, and that work begins within our classrooms. 

Last weekend, I attended a workshop in San Francisco titled “Dismantling White Supremacy Culture in Schools”, along with educators from many public, charter, religious, and independent schools. One of the aspects of white supremacy culture that has been most destructive to a pluralistic and inclusive society is that white culture both defines what is considered normal, and values certain ways of knowing and not others. From worshipping the written word to pushing a belief in absolute objectivity, white culture either subjugates or seeks to assimilate other cultures and perspectives while denying their legitimacy. Consider the flawed metaphor of the United States as a “melting pot” that so many of us learned as children. This concept promotes an image of America that erases the native inhabitants of this land and assimilates immigrants into a dominant culture rooted in an oppressive white patriarchy — not exactly a reflection of the modern country we live in, let alone the image of the future society we hope to see our children inhabit.

What a gift for our students to be able to use performance art and spoken word to connect their own lived experiences with the stories and myths the Indigenous Peoples of the area passed down orally through generations. And what a powerful message for our students, who spent joyous time on the river making art, learning about hydrology, and exploring the lives of the Indigenous People of the area, to have our teachers and families help them recognize that there are many ways of making meaning in the world. 

Warm regards,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Talking About Race with Children

Dear Gateway Families,

At last week’s First Friday assembly, I spoke with our community about an incident of racial exclusion, in which one child told another child that they were not allowed at Gateway because of the color of their skin. I pointed out that we don’t exclude people based on aspects of their identity such as race, gender, body, or speech. I asked our students and the collected adults to reflect on times they have been hurt by the words or actions of another, or witnessed one person teasing another, and the pain that spreads to those not directly involved. I challenged our community to become upstanders, which means saying something if we hear something inappropriate, and asking for help from adults if we need it (and that includes adults asking for help!). And I proposed that the Golden Rule — treat others the way we want to be treated — is actually selfish, and that our community can aspire to the Rainbow Rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.

Many adults have a hard time talking about race with children. Sometimes we think it’s best to ignore skin color, but the “colorblind” approach erases and avoids important differences in human experience. And promoting a “not racist” mindset is not enough to help children understand (and eventually confront) the systemic racism rooted in American society; we must teach them how to be “anti-racist”. Here are a few resources to support your family as you navigate these critical discussions at home.

Rebecca Ruiz: Becoming A Parent Forced Me to Confront White Supremacy
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovish: How to Talk to Kids About Race: Resources and Readings
Katrina Schwartz: Teaching Six Year Olds About Privilege and Power
Bree Ervin: 6 Things White Parents Can Do To Raise Racially Conscious Children

For a powerful adults-only reading, I highly recommend “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

Becoming a community that can hold courageous and challenging conversations about racism is not easy, but it is an ethical imperative if we are to better prepare our children for their futures. And as our eyes are opened to new perspectives and paradigms around racial identity and experience, and we learn facts such as the racial baggage of Dr Seuss or the slavery practices of Thomas Jefferson, we become better equipped to teach our children about the complexity of race in modern society — and prepare them for our school’s goal “to discover their individual and collective potential to make positive change in the world.”

Regards,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Student Activism and Social Justice 101

Dear Gateway Families,

Last Friday, many of our Middle School students participated in the local portion of the Climate Strike taking place across the globe. Unlike some other local schools, where alternate schedules were created and the organizing was done by adults, Gateway students were responsible for figuring out the best way to get involved. The Eighth Grade student leaders determined that interested students needed to attend several organizing meetings and write personal purpose statements (which they have shared with their parents) in order to qualify for excused absences while they participate. This ensured students were educated about and committed to the event, and not simply using this as an excuse to get out of school. From logistics (like walking from campus to downtown, ensuring safety in a rally setting, and organizing an off-site dismissal protocol) to planning a presentation to elementary students after the event, they demonstrated impressive intention and leadership.

But I have to tell you the truth, which is that while I am delighted by this, I am not at all surprised.

Gateway’s mission and vision statement ends with this explicit goal: for students to discover their individual and collective potential to make positive change in the world. After nine years in our classrooms, our oldest students are confident and capable in the academic realm and they are intensely eager to engage with the larger world and advocate for issues of social justice. Consider last year’s Walkathon, which raised more than $12,000 for building new wells in the African nation of Niger, or the 2018 Walkout to End Gun Violence, in which our students staged a 17 minute silent protest on West Cliff Drive during a cold rain. We have an impressive track record when it comes to student-driven activism.

This can be traced directly back to curriculum that runs through the grades at Gateway. From Kindergarten studies of the community, to the Third Grade business reports, to the Three Sisters salad in Life Lab, to the Museum of (In)tolerance project in our Middle School, our teachers regularly guide students to think about other people — locally, regionally, nationally, and around the world — which is one of many ways we help them cultivate empathy. And when we talk in our classrooms about citizenship, we do so at all of those levels, from the immediate community to the global.

Among our school’s nine stated core values are both education for environmental sustainability and the courage to promote a just society. As I recently shared with a parent, climate justice is part of social justice, and Gateway has always believed in and advocated for social justice, because at the core of social justice is the concept of human rights — that all humans have shared rights, and in modern American society, very specific racist, sexist, and other structural biases and ways of looking at the world prevent those universal rights from being respected.

Last Monday, our faculty and staff spent the in-service day learning about a framework for integrating social justice knowledge and skills into our program. Our trainer, Kim Burkhalter, works with Teaching Tolerance, the educational arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and walked us through a number of activities to help us learn a shared language and set of standards for social justice education in the four domains of Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action. We had time to experiment with applying these to our existing curriculum, and to practice the skill of asking essential questions to reframe our thinking about these issues within the curriculum. Throughout the year, you can expect to see and hear from your children (and our teachers) about how we are learning to talk about difficult issues, from race to immigration to the housing crisis, with new language, understandings, and courage. I’ll be blogging about this throughout the year, and I look forward to joining with you in dialogue as we up-skill our entire community of children and adults alike.

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Savoring This Moment, Preparing For The Next

Dear Gateway Families,

What an extraordinary day! My heart is overflowing. From watching families take pictures in front of the school at arrival, to hearing the children cheer for faculty and new students during our brief opening assembly, our school hummed with a spirit of joy and excitement far beyond the typical first day of school feeling. I am sure you will hear all about it from your children this evening.

Today was the culmination of ten years of work by Trustees, administrators, faculty, and families to find a new home for Gateway. As former Trustee told me this morning, “It’s better than anything we ever dreamed we could have.” I am truly and deeply grateful to everyone who has contributed their time, energy, talent, finances, and passion to help Gateway arrive at this moment; it is truly one to savor.

We are here today because of the work of all those who came before us, and the sacrifices they made. And that goes far beyond the people who have worked to help Gateway itself. 56 years ago today, almost 250,000 people gathered for The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Delivered that day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech captured the hopes of a generation of visionaries who believed in a better, more just, and more equitable society.

As I mentioned in the August welcome-back letter, this year our faculty and staff will be doing essential work to understand how white supremacy and racism (and oppression more generally) have impacted our program, and the work we must do to confront and dismantle invisible biases and prejudices. Doing this will elevate the social and emotional curriculum to the same level of excellence as our transformational academic program. And it is what our children deserve — just like this wonderful campus.

Last year our community talked a lot about kindness; this year, inclusion and impact are the key ideals that set our direction. I look forward to sharing this journey with you in the months to come. Thank you for all you do for Gateway School.

Warmly,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Dear Gateway School Families,

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year! We’ve been preparing for our campus move for years, and now we get to experience the newness of life on the Natural Bridges campus in the coming year. What an extraordinary opportunity we have to focus on a future that challenges fear, confronts prejudice, and inspires and prepares our children to become engaged citizens and change agents. 

“What language will the young people in your community hear from you? Will you interrupt both the overt and subtle racism that happens around you, or are you gonna let it slide? Our young people are listening.” — Matt Thompson, educator

Living Our Values
In 2015, our Board adopted a revitalized Mission and Vision that has guided our efforts to strengthen the school’s academic and social-emotional program over the last five years. Included in that statement is a list of nine core school values, one of which is “The courage to promote a just society.” In the past few years, Gateway has taken important steps to develop our program in this area, from the implementation of the RULER approach to teaching emotional intelligence in 2015-16, to the work we did with Gender Spectrum to better understand gender identity in 2016-17. I am thrilled that through the efforts of our faculty’s Social Justice & Equity Committee, this coming year will grow our thinking and understanding about the issues of race and oppression in society.

Last year, our Middle School Humanities program piloted the Anti-Bias Framework from Teaching Tolerance; this fall, we will be hosting trainers from Teaching Tolerance for professional development with all faculty and staff. We know that elementary and middle school-age children are not too young to be talking about race. In fact, research has shown that silence about race (whether well-meaning or from discomfort) reinforces racism, as children are left to draw their own conclusions about their observations. As adults, teachers and guardians can help children have healthy and positive attitudes about race, as well as the skills to discuss the topic and promote a more just future. 

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks, civil rights activist

This summer, our all-staff read is White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo. I invite you to read along with us, and to engage with our community as we learn about and discuss concepts such as implicit bias, marginalization, equity, and critical consciousness. For practical suggestions, you may wish to read Bree Ervin’s advice on raising racially conscious children, or Laura Markham’s advice on talking to children about racism.

Examining how concepts of race are expressed in our program is the major focus of our curriculum work this year, but of course there is work to do in other domains as well. In the coming year, our faculty will consolidate and deepen their implementation of recent curriculum and instructional updates, including Writing Workshop and the Bridges math curriculum in the elementary grades, and the Developmental Designs-based advisory program in Middle School. We will continue to implement the same high-quality academic and intellectual curriculum that is the hallmark of our interdisciplinary program even as our teachers continue to innovate with an eye towards what children need for their future — a time that will be as different from the present as the current moment is from our own childhoods.

“Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another.”

— Don Miguel Ruiz, author

Our new campus at 255 Swift St
This year will be organizationally unusual in that most years are not the first on a new campus! With over 10,000 square feet of additional space, a gym, four more bathrooms, full ADA compliance, and a long list of upgrades implemented by both Gateway and Santa Cruz City Schools (roofing and lighting and flooring, oh my!), the Swift Street campus will be an incredible platform for supporting our program for many years to come. No doubt there will also be some growing pains as we figure out how to make arrival, dismissal, and daily school routines run smoothly. We appreciate your patience as we ensure the safety of students and adults while developing efficient procedures.

Accreditation
Last year we began the self-study required by our joint accreditation with the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Accreditation is a reflective process designed to help the school know itself better, celebrate its strengths, and identify critical areas for future improvement. We have been gathering data from students, families, faculty, staff, Trustees, alumni, and alumni families, and preparing a report that answers 187 specific questions across sixteen distinct chapters. The Accreditation Visiting Committee will be on site in January 2020, and I invite you to speak with Hannah Wikse or Kaia Huseby, our Self-Study Coordinators, if you are interested in learning more. Gateway is very proud to be the only elementary and K-8 program accredited by CAIS in Santa Cruz!

“Great schools are constantly becoming.” — Ole Jorgenson, educator

Staffing Updates
Please say hello and welcome a few new faces to our staff this year when you have the opportunity. Jen Graham (Parent of Sophie, ‘23) has joined our staff as Director of Advancement, after a long career in advancement and fundraising at UC Santa Cruz and The Nature Conservancy. Gabrielle Carroll is our new First Grade Assistant Teacher. She previously taught at Spring Hill School and holds a Multiple Subjects teaching credential with CLAD certification. Kristin Morrelli has come on board as our Second Grade Assistant Teacher, and Learning Specialist. She holds a Special Education teaching credential and most recently taught at Happy Valley Elementary. And as previously announced this spring, Lynn Flickinger is our new Music Teacher. Lynn, who has a B.A. in Music from Greensboro College and is coming to us from Brandon Hall International School in Atlanta, GA, has been a professional jazz singer, musical theater performer, director, and music teacher for more than 20 years.

I am deeply grateful for your partnership in pursuit of changing the world for the better by giving our students and children a unique and transformative educational experience. I look forward to seeing you during our Open Campus on Tuesday, August 27th, and at the Welcome Back Coffee on the first day of school, and in the months to come.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” — Fred Rogers, television personality

With warm regards,

Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

20 Articles on Teaching & Learning

Design image for Head of School Blog

Dear Gateway families,

Every day my inbox fills with dozens of emails, many of which include links to articles, research and perspectives on all aspects of education and schools, from the neuroscience of learning to the politics of school funding. From these I curate a reading list to share with faculty; here are twenty that I forwarded along last year.

Association for Psychological Science: Heavily decorated classrooms disrupt attention and learning in young children

Jill Barshay via Hechinger Report: Using test scores as measurements, most educational innovations aren’t effective

Julie Beck via The Atlantic: Raising boys with a broader definition of masculinity

Amber Chandler via NPBTS: Yes, creativity can be taught (but watch out for neuromyths like “left brain, right brain”)

Curtis Chandler via MiddleWeb: How to help students remember things

Anya Kamenetz via KQED: Reading aloud to children is good for their brains

Chris Lee via ArsTechnica: A study on systems vs empathy, math, and gender, with a link to autism

Trevor Mackenzie via KQED: Inquiry is at the heart of student-centered teaching

Nina Parrish via Edutopia: Teaching self-regulation to students

Jenny Pieratt via ACDS: Five myths about Project Based Learning

Kelly Puente via Long Beach Post: Researchers now studying teachers’ brains

Dian Schiffhauser via THE Journal: K-3 STEM experience leads to better STEM skills later

Katrina Schwartz via KQED: Teach students to ask better questions

Sarah Sparks via EdWeek: Research shows that teaching kids about the brain helps them develop growth mindset

Valerie Strauss via Washington Post: Don’t keep students sitting at their desks the entire class

Youki Terada via Edutopia: Drawing helps students remember

Stephanie Toro via NAIS: How to increase the effectiveness of study sessions

Dana Weeks via Edutopia: Silence can be an effective instructional strategy

Kandi Wiens and Darin Rowell via Harvard Business Review: Emotional intelligence can help you embrace change

Ashliegh Ziehmke via ESchoolNews: How to establish a growth mindset in math

I love how intellectually curious and engaged our faculty are, and the opportunity to grow our thinking as educators together. I hope you enjoy these articles, and welcome your comments or conversation on any of the ideas they discuss.

Warmly,
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School