Campus Safety at Natural Bridges

Dear Gateway families,

We’ve had great fun taking our K-5 students to the new campus over the last several weeks. Their excitement while exploring the new classrooms, common areas and open spaces of the site has been nothing short of joyous! It’s gratifying to see the vision of the new campus slowly become a reality as we get closer to our move date.

The Natural Bridges campus is significantly larger than our current site, and as we’ve moved through the design and construction process, we’ve thought carefully about how we will ensure the safety of our students and faculty while on the campus. I’m pleased to let you know about several ways we are addressing this topic.

To begin changing the neighborhood’s relationship with the campus, we have installed and activated a multi-camera security system that feeds to a staffed, overnight command center. The cameras alert the control room when they sense movement, and are equipped with two-way communication that allows the security agent to alert trespassers that the campus is closed. This system has proven very effective at reducing overnight transience at Harbor High School over the past three months, and in just a few short weeks we are seeing a positive impact.

We are also addressing a variety of physical campus items to improve site safety. For example, we’ve removed and reset some concrete sidewalks that presented tripping hazards, and installed windows into certain doors and walls to improve visibility and sightlines. We will also be installing fencing in a variety of places, including the sloped lawn that borders Swift Street, to create a “front yard” for our elementary program, and ensuring the fencing around the entire campus is appropriate and secure.

Finally, we have signed a contract with Joffe Emergency Services, the state-wide leaders in independent school safety, to conduct a complete safety audit of the new campus. Joffe will identify security concerns; develop emergency plans, a comprehensive safety manual, and new safety drills; review and update our communication and notification systems; and provide onsite training for staff, additional crisis response training for the administration, and even a parent education event. We are looking forward to having their expertise guide us on the new campus.

We are still on time and on target with both our construction process and moving our materials to the new campus. I hope you can join us while we start the packing process here at the Eucalyptus campus on June 1st, and at the new campus for some hands-on construction efforts on June 8th. Please rsvp to Jeremy King or stop by the front desk to sign up.


Dr. Zachary Roberts

Head of School

Parent Education Event

Monday, May 20, 2019 at 7 PM – 8 PM
New Brighton Middle School, 250 Washburn Ave, Capitola

Author Audrey Monke will be at New Brighton Middle School PAC to talk about her new book Happy Campers: 9 Summer Camp Secrets for Raising Kids Who Become Thriving Adults

Happy Campers offers the big dose of positivity
parents need! Make your parenting far more enjoyable and effective by adopting practices camp counselors use at summer camp.
” –Jon Gordon, best selling author of The Energy Bus and The Power of a Positive Team

This event is sponsored by Kennolyn Camps, Gateway School and Bookshop Santa Cruz.

New Campus Work Day — Rescheduled!

Our May 18th New Campus Work Day is rescheduled to Saturday, June 8th. The combination of the rainy forecast and interior construction projects means the campus won’t be accessible like we had hoped. Please join us on June 8th instead!

Work Day at the New Campus – Saturday, June 8, 9:00am to 4:00pm
Join us at the new campus wether you like to pull weeds or plant landscaping, build something new or demolish something old, work with dirt and mud or clean until things shine, we have the job for you. This event will be a mix of hard work, good fun and community building as we start to shape our new home.

The day will be broken into two shifts:
Shift One: 9:00am-12:00pm
Lunch: 12:00-1:00pm (Drinks and snacks will be provided and there will be pizza for lunch – let us know if you are GF.)
Shift Two: 1:00pm-4:00pm
(Picking a shift is helpful but come for what you can.)

Please RSVP to include
• Your name
• Choose a shift – if you can pin one down (Picking a shift is helpful but if you don’t know what time will work just yet or can’t commit to a full three hours please RSVP anyway and come for what you can.)
• How many from your family plan to attend *
• Feel free to add a note if you have any, skills, job preferences, or are bringing extra tools, etc.

(There will also be a clipboard at the front desk where you can RSVP)

Hope to see you there!

* Hard workers of all ages are welcome and we strongly encourage students to come make their mark on their school.
Please note that we are not providing childcare, you will need to guide your children’s work and supervise them when they need a break.

We will have the basic tools and supplies available but if you have that old gardening set or tool belt gathering dust in your garage please bring them along. If you happen to have any specific skills or tools as a professional or a hobbyist that’s great too, let us know ahead of time and we will try to match your talents to the right job.

Camp Gateway is BACK!

And we can’t wait to welcome in our favorite campers, summer staff instructors, and plenty of sunshine as we fill the halls with laughter at our new school site! Camp registration opens on Monday.

What’s exciting at Camp Gateway in 2019?
This will be the first program Gateway runs on our epic new campus, so we get to have the ultimate sneak peek and break in the campus. We also get to explore the neighborhood around Natural Bridges, including Derby Park right next door.
What’s are some of the new courses we’ll offer?
We’ll have four weeks of speciality classes, running July 15th to August 9th. Puppet Shakers & Movie Makers for grades 3-5 is a week-long course exploring the imagination, first with puppet making, followed by scripting out and filming a movie featuring these character-driven puppets. Another exciting offering is Move’n’Groove for grades 4-6, a combination class taking campers through the worlds of sports and music. Kids will spend the morning playing lots of sports and games, and the afternoon in musical explorations with digital and physical instruments.

Who’s going to be working at Camp this summer?
We’ll have a mix of returning staff and brand new instructors! We’re so excited to have many current faculty involved, including Emily, Becky, Brandt, and Zach, not to mention long-time Camp Gateway counselor Haley Brown.

Can we drop our kid offer for a single day of camp?
This year we are only offering camp for full day week-long sessions. Sign up for 1 week or all 4 weeks of classes that catch your eye!

Where can I go to find out more information about Camp Gateway?
Check out our school website for all the program details and registration information! Classes will be posted this Friday with registration opening Mid March. And as follows from years past, we will let our Gateway families know 48 hours in advance to sign up before messaging out to the community. 

If you have any questions please let Megan know by email at or pop on in the office.

Check out our summer offerings here!

Parenting as a Community Pt.3

Dear families,

I blogged about some parenting articles back in October and again in February, in response to the wonderful parent education event we held with Sheri Glucoft-Wong (which you can still watch on our Youtube page) and feedback from families eager to continue the conversation about how we come together as a community to raise children. With that in mind, here are a few more thought-provocative articles related to parenting that have come through my inbox in the last several months.

What impact does social media have on middle school girls? 60 percent of elementary-age girls said they were happy the way they were; 67 percent of boys said the same thing. By middle school, those numbers had dropped for both genders, but significantly for girls overall: to 37 percent, with 56 percent for boys.” Whatever your child’s gender, Lory Hough’s article Girlhood in the Harvard Ed Magazine is compelling reading.

How can boys experience greater emotional diversity? Recent work by psychologists reveals the once-hidden benefits of experiencing a diversity of emotions, both positive and negative…And yet the research suggests we are not fostering emotional diversity from a young age, especially when it comes to raising young boys.Jane Gruber and Jessica Borelli’s short piece in Scientific American speaks strongly to the developmental need to allow boys to experience, identify, and understand a wide range of emotions.

What’s the best way to ensure my child’s happiness?  Our results demonstrate that not all pursuits of happiness are equally successful and corroborate the great importance of social relationships for human well-being.” Jenny Anderson’s piece in Quartz weaves science and personal narrative to make a compelling argument that “The thing that makes us happiest in life is other people”, and that our greatest and most important work as parents is to teach our children how to be good friends and compassionate peers.

Should my child be doing more homework? Joe Pinsker’s article in The Atlantic summarizes the research (the short answer is no), explores the benefits and drawbacks of homework (it can create a home-school connection if one doesn’t exist, and there’s a correlation between in-class test performance and homework in secondary education), and defines good homework as meaningful, relevant, timely, and furthering student learning.

A few more quick,  interesting links:

I welcome your thoughts on these articles, or any other resources you’ve found helpful in your own journey as a parent. Our whole community benefits from this dialogue. And I hope to see many of you on Friday for the parent education event Ending the Silence: Supporting Mental Health immediately following the First Friday assembly.


Dr. Zachary Roberts

Head of School

Aligning Our Values, Words, and Actions

Design image for Head of School Blog

Dear Gateway families,

In February, we posted a link on our Facebook page to an article in the Atlantic about how elite college admissions processes are broken. How extraordinary to have news of a national college admission bribery scandal break last week! If you aren’t already inundated with various takes on this distressing news, I recommend Alexandra Robbins excellent piece Kids are the Victims of the Elite-College Obsession (and you may want to check out her great 2006 book, The Overachievers).

Who do we want our children to become? If we want them to learn to act with integrity, and to hold that in high value, we adults must do the same; as one of my colleagues wrote to his community, “I find one of the saddest elements to be that much of this illegal activity was done by parents without their children’s knowledge.”

Likewise, if we want them to be reflective, we must consider other perspectives on our behaviors, and become aware of our own bias and assumptions. If we want them to be creative and playful, we should take the time to play with them. If we want them to be curious, we can ourselves be constantly asking new questions and seeking to learn new skills. If we want them to be collaborative, we must show them to work respectfully, respond to differing perspectives, compromise in order to achieve shared goals, and assume shared responsibility.

If we want them to stand up for justice and equity, then we need to realize that using all of our resources to give them every advantage may not give them every advantage. How terrible for those children not to be given the chance to achieve to the best of their own abilities. Sometimes acting in the best interests of our children means not acting!  As hard as it is to sit on our hands as adults, our children need to make mistakes and struggle — the path to developing deep resilience and persistence is filled with obstacles and failures. By being cold, wet, and hungry, they learn to truly appreciate being warm, dry, and fed.

In our community, though attending an “elite” school is not often viewed as the only way to achieve adult success, we all face difficult choices in parenting and supporting our children. When your child has challenges in academic or social relationships, how will you react? There will be choices to be made about which activities to pursue; will you support your child’s passions, and listen to their voices if they start to lose interest or burn out?  I encourage you to take this opportunity reflect on the ways in which your family might approach the path of your child’s education in future years. It is a great pleasure to be partners with you in this work.


Dr. Zachary Roberts

Head of School

“Education for Hearts, Minds, and Souls” with Jim McManus

We are pleased to welcome a guest blog written by Jennifer Ellis, Vice President of the Gateway Board of Trustees.

Last weekend, I had the privilege to attend the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) annual conference that is held for Board Trustees and Heads of School, representing Gateway in a crowd of over 600 attendees. Because we are accredited through CAIS and therefore members of the organization, we have access to the incredible resources and support, educational opportunities, and recruiting network it provides.

Jim McManus is the long-time executive director of CAIS, and he delivered a speech to start the conference in which he shared excerpts from letters between the original presidents of Stanford University and the University of California. In their correspondence, these civic-minded educators spoke about their joint missions of educating for moral character, so that our children learn to be good citizens of a democracy, and contribute to society in meaningful ways. Jim went on to then share the current mission of UC, which now focuses on the “transmission of knowledge” and is absent of anything that speaks to the building of character as part of meaningful education.

This is where independent schools come in, is the point Jim was making. Schools like ours have the liberty to hold onto other ideals; we exist to do more than simply transmit knowledge. Jim then shared the current mission statements of a handful of schools across the state, and prominently displayed among them was Gateway’s mission statement, which our faculty, administration, and Board worked hard to articulate several years ago, and which continues to guide all of the decisions we make as a school: To inspire children to lead lives of purpose and compassion through scholarship and citizenship.

The weekend filled me with a sense of pride and excitement about the work we are doing at Gateway, and a sense of solidarity with other independent schools in California. Indeed, it was exciting to have Gateway recognized as a model and a vanguard among these schools, and I am confident that our reputation will only grow, as the decisions that we make at Gateway continue to be guided by this meaningful mission.

School Accreditation

Dear Gateway Families and Friends,

Did you know that Gateway is an accredited independent school? In fact, we are the ONLY K-8 school in Santa Cruz accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). We are also accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)!

So…what is accreditation, and what do we have to do?

“School accreditation is a peer-review process that fosters excellence in education and encourages school improvement through discovery, dialogue, compliance, and commitment. Accreditation enables a member school to develop clearly defined goals and objectives based on its mission and philosophy.” —CAIS

Accreditation is recognition of professional excellence, based on values of program quality, continuous growth, risk management, financial accountability, and other factors. Museums, banks, nonprofits, and many other types of organizations use accreditation for this purpose.

The process of accreditation begins with completing a self-study report. This will take about 11 months, and includes gathering lots of data, information, and documentation. Sometime in the winter of 2019-20, we will host a Visiting Committee for four days, which then produces a report it sends to the CAIS Board of Standards. CAIS will then confirm our accreditation status.

What are the benefits of this process?

There are so many benefits to going through the accreditation cycle, and they start with using the self-study to really think deeply about the school.

  • Teachers get to step away from classroom work and spend time reflecting on what our strengths and challenges are as a school.
  • Collaboration across faculty, staff, Board, students, families and alumni strengthens our community.
  • We get to create goals together and chart a path for continuous growth and change.

Being accredited also has many benefits.

  • Being an accredited CAIS school means that Gateway is committed to an environment of continuous, thoughtful improvement.
  • When universities, high schools, elementary schools, and even preschools get accredited, families can have greater trust in the institution.
  • We have access to professional development and teacher recruitment that other schools don’t have (or have to pay more to access).
  • We are part of a network of 250 independent schools in the state, and over 1700 schools nationally, that have a rich dialogue about independent school education.

When does this work happen?

Our self-study work began with training for faculty and staff in the fall. For the next 11 months, faculty and administrators will be working on our self-study. We used parts of last Friday’s in-service for accreditation, and we’ll be doing more during upcoming in-service days and during after school meetings.

The school was fully accredited for the first time in 1998, and completed re-accreditation in 2006 and 2013. This will be Gateway’s fourth time through the cycle.

Will families be involved?

In the coming months, there may be opportunities to be involved in this process as members of our larger community, such as focus groups, surveys, and other means.

As co-coordinators for this process, we are excited to do this important work with our extraordinary colleagues! If you have any questions about this process, please email us.


Kaia Husaby and Hannah Wikse

Accreditation Self-Study Co-Coordinators

Parenting As A Community Pt. 2

In October I put a list of parenting links on my blog, in response to the wonderful parent education event we held with Sheri Glucoft-Wong (which you can still watch on our  Youtube page). To continue that community conversation, next Tuesday at 6:00 we will be hosting a screening of Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a recent documentary about the life and career of Fred Rogers. In the meantime, here are some provocative articles about parenting and child raising that have come through my inbox in the last three months.

How do we recognize our children’s authentic selves? Jessica Lahey’s perspective on Why parents need to be patient with their school-age kids is a great reminder that trying to mold children to our goals can cloud our vision of who they really are. “We offer the “shoulds” because we want the best possible lives for our children, but when we focus all of our effort on who they should be, we inadvertently invalidate who they are.”

How do we raise children to be grounded, not spoiled? Joe Pinsker believes that The Way American Parents Think About Chores Is Bizarre, because “the chores-for-allowance agreement…can give kids the sense that they’re entitled to rewards for fulfilling basic responsibilities.” Instead, he proposes we recognize that children are eager to help, and find fulfillment by serving a useful role in the family.

How do we strength our connection as a family? In  Raising the Mindful Family,  Elise Goldstein and Stefanie Goldstein explore how individual, couple and family practices of mindfulness can lead to connection that transcends the busy schedules, long commutes and digital lives that create distance in many families.

What’s my role in my middle schooler’s social conflict? Psychologist Lisa Damour offers three keys to parents. First, don’t confuse conflict (which is common) with bullying (which is rare); second, teach skills for healthy conflict; and third, let them pick their battles. Read about the the thinking behind these three key parenting skills in How to Help Tweens and Teens Manage Social Conflict.

How do we help children understand consent? In I’ve Talked With Teenage Boys About Sexual Assault for 20 Years. This Is What They Still Don’t Know, Laurie Halse Anderson offers a wake-up call to parents of all children, regardless of gender. “We need to ask our boys questions so that we understand what they think they know about sex and intimacy. Sharing books, movies and TV shows are a great way to open these conversations. Discussing the choices made by fictional characters paves the way for more personal conversations. We need to tell our own stories to make sure our boys understand that these things happen to people they know and love.”

A few more quick, interesting links:

I welcome your thoughts on these articles, or any other resources you’ve found helpful in your own journey as a parent. Our whole community benefits from this dialogue. And I hope to see many of you on Tuesday at the screening of Won’t You Be My Neighbor!


Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School

Helping Families Communicate Respectfully and Effectively

Join us for a workshop to learn more effective ways to communicate with your children and manage your emotions when they are not communicating effectively with you! We’ll discuss why children test parents, and what you can do to manage the reactions this triggers. We’ll share some practical tips, tools, and insights to help your family’s communication.

This workshop will support a home-school connection with the RULER Program.

Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health. At Gateway, we’ve integrated the RULER approach to teaching emotional intelligence (developed at the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence).

Friday, March 1  – 9:15-10:15am in the West Cliff Room