Thank you

To my dear Gateway students, family, my dear love bubble,

As I write these words, I am flooded with emotions; fear, sadness, and excitement. It is very difficult to deliver the news that I will not be returning as the art teacher next year. Gateway has been the most loving community I have ever been a part of. I adore my students, my colleagues, and my supervisors. Three years ago, I landed in Santa Cruz, California and took a total chance. I was scared to move across the country by myself: far away from my family, my friends, and my home in New York City. It was a big change and a big challenge. And guess what? With big challenges, come a lot of opportunities for growth. I leaped into the unknown and at that moment in time, I had no idea just how special of a place I was leaping into. I was received with tremendous compassion, love, and care.

This has never been just a job to me. This has been the work of my heart and the work of my soul. My time at Gateway has been a life changing experience. I am deeply grateful to have been a member of this community, I am heavy hearted to leave this extraordinary place, and I hope to remain involved as much as possible. I have never seen a school filled with such warmth, a school that cares so deeply about each individual’s potential and well being.

I made the difficult choice to leave this amazing place for several reasons. More than anything, my life’s journey has been a commitment to growth and overcoming fear. I choose to leave not because it’s easy, and not because I am unhappy, but because I know I have more growing to do. I choose to leave because I want to practice my growth mindset. In the coming months, I am challenging myself to continue growing my business, Happy HeART Studio in Santa Cruz. My dreams include:


  • Opening my own after school program, teaching resilience and self love through art making, yoga, and meditation
  • Developing workshops and trainings for teachers and parents on how to implement mindfulness programs in schools and family mindfulness practice at home
  • Writing a book, sharing my curriculum with the world, creating a guide for teachers on how to use meditation for self-care and how to teach their students to practice self-care.
  • Spreading the love bubble to more teachers and more students and more schools… advocating that self-kindness be taught in school.


I cannot simply tell my students: “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.” “Don’t be afraid to take a risk.” “Follow your heart.” “Don’t give up” “Believe in yourself.” I have to practice what I teach. I’m going to cheer myself on even when it is hard, scary, and uncertain. To my beloved students and friends, I hope to stay connected. I hope to still be present in and around Gateway School. I will carry you in my heart always. Believe in yourself. You can do it. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. And pretty please, be kind to yourself and others. I love you.



Ilana Ingber


Please do stay in touch! I can be found at

Join my mailing list to find out what I am up to! (Promise not to send too many emails )

Class Update

Dear Families,

Last Friday’s Walk-A-Thon was quite an inspiring success. This student-led event generated over $11,000 for several worthy organizations, and our class earned $1,406.20 for the Center for Child Abuse Prevention.  If you were not able to attend the event, you can find some images and videos here: and

This past Monday the students started their final Disco Intensive Week. Their Discovery Challenge centers around design thinking, which asks the child to do six things:

  • Notice
  • Care
  • Sketch
  • Build
  • Iterate
  • Reflect

We would like to invite you to come celebrate these projects/inventions on Tuesday, June 5th from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Students will share formal presentations about their design process and final results with you. We think this is the perfect way to celebrate our year of learning together!

In writing, fourth graders reviewed their work from the year and were asked to reflect on their growth as writers. They have grown tremendously in their ability to engage in the writing process and express themselves through writing! You will get to take home your child’s final writing on Tuesday, June 5th.

You may have heard mention of pen pals. Your children have been writing letters back and forth with students from Mulberry School in Los Gatos this winter/spring. Next Tuesday, our pen pals will come to Santa Cruz for a visit! We’ll have a picnic lunch near the Lighthouse, play together, and then share recent Disco projects. The fourth graders are so excited to meet these new friends! If your child usually gets a hot lunch, please plan to send a picnic lunch on that day.

And, a talent show update: Our morning performances will begin at 8:45 in place of First Friday. We will showcase all of our 1-4 grade performers in the one hour block of time we have set aside.  Our afternoon performances for 5th and Up will begin at 1:45 and will end at 2:30.

Have a great week —



Kaia and Kurt


May 23, 2018

Dear Families,

Thank you for helping our week get off to a great start with our lovely trip to Garfield Park. We all had a blast celebrating Summer Birthdays, catching up with friends, and soaking up some sun. 

Our Walk-a-Thon was a mega-success! Our class raised over $700 for Save the Whales as we walked alongside our entire school community. Thank you again for your incredible support and helping to empower our young learners and show them their actions can make an impact on the greater world.

Speaking of impact, we are in the ‘preparation’ stage of our Service Learning project. The students brainstormed possible ideas for how they can take informed action to help solve the problem of trash and plastic in our oceans. After much discussion and voting they decided they would like to have a ‘teaching stand’ to teach others in our community about the impact of plastic and trash.  As a class they thought of different elements they would like to have at the ‘stand,’ and each element will be designed and led by a mini team of students. Here are the elements the students have included: one team will be creating a poster board with pictures of marine animals impacted by plastic and trash; the second team will be designing a mini flyer to pass out that shares four things people can do; a third team will be demonstrating how plastic bags, balloons, and other trash look very similar to jellyfish, plankton, and fish that other animals eat; and a fourth team will be taking a survey of how many people use reusable water bottles and straws and sharing different alternatives. The teams were self selected by interest and each student was interested in having an opportunity to pass out a reusable bag to those who may not have one. (Just so you are not surprised, your students will be coming home on Friday with a note they have written to ask if you have any extra reusable bags around your home that you are no longer using. )

As of now, we are finalizing where we will have our stands in our community. The students brainstormed a variety of different places and we are now seeing which would be best (and where we will be welcome). They felt comfortable with two one hour sessions in different locations. I will be sure to message out when and where those will be as we may need a few drivers to help drop us off and supervise. Stay tuned!

The scripts for our play “How Does Your Garden Grow” went home a few weeks ago. We are a few weeks in and the students are all rockin’ it! This week the students practiced the songs as well as the their assigned lines as a group. We would like to make a request that students practice their lines AT HOME so that they can say them without prompting. Hannah and I modeled the many silly ways lines could be practiced, but when it comes down to it, they will need your help.

In addition to practicing lines at home, please let us know if you have any questions about costumes. If your child is a flower, plant or veggie, they get to choose WHAT kind of flower or plant or veggie they are. It is totally up to them (and you) to create an outfit for them to wear. Some families go all out, others go simple. I will give reminders over the next week, AND can offer advice as needed. 🙂

Important Dates

May 25th: Spirit Day: Opposites (mismatched shoes, backwards t-shirt…)

May 28th: Memorial Day: NO SCHOOL

June 1: First Friday 8:45am

June 4th: Kindergarten Play & Celebration (9-10:30am). Mark your calendars!!

June 7th: Step Up Day 9am LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. All are welcome from 9:00-10:00 we hold a “promotion day” or Step Up day filled with singing, speeches and fun. Families come and have a great time. K-2 dismissed at 12pm. Graduation at 1pm. All are welcome but not required. Please ask me for more details as needed. More information will come as we get closer.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!!



R2 Letter


May 22nd, 2018


Dear 2nd Grade Families,


We did it! The 3rd time is charmed! We had an amazing field trip to Point Lobos with stops along the way yesterday. We ran down the hill at Carmel Beach, and then ate our snack at Monastery Beach, just down the road. The sand at these two beaches are so very different and students noticed, observed, and used what they learned during our sand studies to predict why these sands from beaches so nearby are so different! At Point Lobos we took an hour and half long hike in groups of 4-5 students with our drivers and wonderful docents. This morning when I asked students to share something they learned I was impressed by all that they retained. Likewise, all of the docents remarked at how the Gateway 2nd graders are so well composed and knowledgeable! I want to thank all the drivers and chaperones that came along yesterday. We appreciate you so much! Our field trip program is so rich and we could not run it without you. Your generosity is wonderful. Thank you.  


Thanks to those of you who’ve helped your child gather up some things for the memory book. We’re working on those today and then continuing to have some time over the next two weeks to make pages, organize, and put final touches on these. If you turn up other things that you’d like to include, please send them in.


As I mentioned recently- homework is wrapping up…rather wrapped up for this year! 🙂 Please do continue to read at home each night. If your child is looking for something to do they could start to keep a journal, work on a Keynote presentation on a subject of their choice, create a board game, write letters to family or friends who live in another town to establish penpals, or play games like Yahtzee or Farkle to practice math skills. Please also feel free to give these almost 3rd graders an additional chore or two! They are ready for increased responsibility. You are most welcome to think of homework as “work of the home!”


As the year wraps up we have a few special events coming up!


This Thursday (5/24 please join us from 9-10 for our Keynote Presentations followed by our Mask Reception!


Monday 5/29 is a beloved 2nd grade tradition, our annual ALL DAY READING PARTY! For this students are welcomed to wear PJ’s bring a sleeping bag or blanket and pillow or stuffie. We’ll read all day. We have plenty of things to read here in class, and if students have books from home they want to bring to share, they are most welcome to do so!


Friday 6/1 is our last first Friday of the year and the talent show (part in the AM and part in the PM- look for details in the GWFN!)


Monday 6/4 is the 2nd grade pool party- look for details from room parents, Layla, Chris, and Suzanne. Thanks for organizing this ladies. We’ll leave from school 10:45 and return to school by 2:45 though you’re welcome to pick up from the pool (Logan’s grandparent’s house in the Banana Belt neighborhood.)


Tuesday 6/5 is our All day GAME PARTY! Students are asked to bring a game or 2 to share and we’ll teach each other our favorite games that day.


Thursday 6/7 is the last day. (Crazy!) Step up at 9 AM. Graduation is that afternoon. 2nd graders will not attend Graduation. We will have noon dismissal.


May 21st Newsletter

Dear Families,

Thank you for all your donations to the Walkathon. Your children participated in this event with incredible energy and enthusiasm! As a class, we raised over $700 for the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

It’s hard to believe that we are already in the final weeks of third grade. This year has flown by. We have seen incredible growth in these students in every way. One of the exciting things happening lately is the completion of the final drafts of the biography reports in class. It’s a special moment when, during work time, a student declares: “I’ve finished!” Classmates rush over to share the excitement. The student writer gets a chance to share the sense of accomplishment of a job well done. The students bring all their resources and learning to this project. Your children have started sharing these to the group and some have even chosen to wear costumes (this is completely optional).

We are excited to share the Biography Reports, Poetry Books and Business Reports with you at our Author’s Party on June 4th at 1:45. We will meet together in the classroom and then gather in small groups so that students can share their work. Please bring some healthy, simple finger foods for our afternoon party.  We think that, if everyone brings something, we will have plenty! Bowls, plates, cups and silverware will be provided. We would appreciate help cleaning up from 2:45 to 2:55.  Thank you!  It’s going to be a wonderful afternoon and a fun way to have a final gathering and to celebrate our year.   Please R.S.V.P. with the approximate number of family members who will be in attendance. That way, we can make small groups that have enough listeners for our student authors. Thank you!

Speaking of final stretches, this is the final week on the Business Report Time Line. Your student should be writing their final draft this week, in their neatest handwriting. Adults, please read over the report for a final spell check. Please assist your child to add a title page and a resource page (listing who was interviewed) and to add any photos and/or illustrations. Please help your child to place everything in a sturdy report folder. Reports are due this Friday, May 25th. We are looking forward to seeing the reports and sharing them in class. Thank you again for supporting your child through this project at home. If finishing by this Friday seems truly impossible, e-mail us about an extension until Tuesday

Our final field trip of the year with be tomorrow, May 22nd. We will be walking to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. We will leave school at 10:00 and return by 1:30. We will be eating our snack and lunch on the wharf, so please pack food that your child can eat “in the field.” Please also remind your student to dress in layers and to wear sunscreen. Water bottles and hats are advisable. Students will be carrying their own food and water, so please help them to do so in a manageable way, for example, with a light backpack. We will also be enjoying an Italian Gelato treat at Riva’s. Please discuss a different treat, if your child cannot eat gelato. There is always a non-dairy sorbet option. We will meet one of the directors of the maintenance crew on the wharf, walk to the end to see the sea lions (hopefully), eat lunch and our treat and head back to school. Thank you to those who are joining us for our fun trip!

Have a great week,

Julie and Kaia

Step Up and Graduation

Dear Parents and Students — Thank you for a wonderful Spring Concert!  Video clips will be made available as they are edited and expect a link to videos soon.  Now we are heading into the end of our school year!  As many of you know, the last day of school, our “Step Up / Graduation Day”  is very important and gives us the opportunity to celebrate our successes throughout the year and send our graduates off in style.  In sticking with tradition, students will be singing songs to the parents and each other during the ceremony.  It’s important for students to practice these songs at home and sing with as much clarity and passion as possible in order to give strength and kindness to all of our students moving on.  Below is a list of songs students are singing as well as videos, practice tracks, backing tracks and lyric sheets.  They are listed by grade. Please practice at home when you can, enjoy the music and contact me with any questions!

PS.  The voice you hear on the recordings is none other than that of Kristin Allen Farmer, our former music teacher and now the parent of a kindergartner at our school!

Grades K – 1:  Wonderful World (see video), Forever Young, We Are Your Children

Grade 2 Forever Young, We Are Your Children

Grade 3-7 Forever Young, We Are Your Children, Feet of a Dancer, Finale

Grades 6 -8 Feet of a Dancer, Finale, We Are Your Children, Forever Young


Wonderful World video

Feet of a Dancer w/vocal

Feet of a Dancer no vocal

We are Your Children w/vocal

We are Your Children no vocal

Forever Young w/vocal

Forever Young no vocal

Finale w/vocal

Finale no vocal

Wonderful World Lyric

Forever Young, We Are Your Children Lyric

Finale Lyric

Feet of a Dancer Lyric

May 2018- “The Learning Zone” Weeks 32 & 35

Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry

Hi Families,

The sorting has begun and Hogwarts can not be more happy! These little witches and wizards are having so much fun listening to our featured author’s book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They are turning the room into Hogwarts castle; making floating candles, decorating wands, practicing spells, and creating an ‘owlery’ for their animals. They will soon be making potions out of the calendula herbs that they have grown and will be practicing for a Harry Potter inspired ‘Growth Mindset’ play.


Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, & Slytherins!

In other learning…. here are some snapshots of  the children engaging in activities that deepen their neural pathways.


First Friday Speakers!     Presentation to Kindy’s!     Tide Pools Field Trip!


Digestion Science –

“Yes that is Amelie acting like a stomach and then demonstrating the function of the rectum-(having a bowel movement)


‘Exploring & Creating’


One World Salad Feast


On top of our daily regular schedule there is so much else going on and in everything that we do, we are aligning to the vision, mission and goals of Gateway School. I think this is important as we look at education and the research on how learning happens.

Here is to continuing to:

 ‘inspire children to lead lives of purpose and compassion through scholarship and citizenship’.

Now for a few words on the 3 R’s ….Reading, ‘Riting’, & ‘Rithmetic’…

(Why was this ever ok?)

  • Mathematics- We have been learning to count up and back using 2 digit numbers and are continuing to practice place value using our base ten blocks. The children will leave 1st grade with a solid understanding of these foundational mathematical concepts. Keep up the practice over the summer by playing math games, cooking, and counting. Hands on math that stimulates a child’s thinking is the best  way to imprint number sense.
  • Reading & Chunk Spelling-
    • Reading,
      • The children have been reading everyday and will be assessed this week. Please have them practice with you every evening to hone in on their fluency and fluidity. They are using their snap words and are utilizing their reading strategies, such as chunk spelling, digraphs, blends, endings, and word family vowel pairs. It is all coming together and they are reading text with confidence and comprehension.
    • Chunk Spelling
      • September: at, et, ot, & ug
      • October: ip, ig, in, op, & am
      • November: ap, un, ed,
      • December: og, ill, ack, & ash
      • January: ad, ing,
      • February: ob, ing, ent, ock
      • March: ame, upm, ine, ee, er, ir, or
      • April: ate, one, ide, oke, oi, oy
      • May: eed, ar, ore
    • End of year assessments will take place this week and next.
  • Writing- The children have completed their Growth Mindset book series and are finishing up their fiction stories. They have acquired a solid understanding of sentence structure and have been learning about proper nouns, commas, quotation marks, conjunctions (such as: and, because & so), compound words, and contractions. I am still reviewing proper letter formation as there is still some reversals and orientation issues. Remind your child that letters always begin at the top. 🙂
  • Word of the Week- For the last three weeks the word will be: ‘chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg

Yes….I am not kidding. It is for real. It is the name of a lake in Massachusetts. I thought we should go out with a bang!

I bet the kids could figure this out using their learned phonic skills- it has everything: digraphs, vowel pairs, and chunks. Hee hee.

(words so far have been: shenanigans, rapscallion, hornswoggle, bamboozle, lollygag,  bumfuzzle, jargogle, befuddled, doppleg anger, collywobbles, gobbledygook, balderdash, skulduggery, hullabaloo, huggermuggery, discombobulate, slangwhanger, gongoozle, & flibbertigibbet, canoodle, pettifogger, smellyfungus, hootenanny, catywampus, quagmire, snollygoster, & ninnyhammer).

  • Author of the Month: JK Rowling
  • Continent of the Month: Africa
  • Reminders & Updates
    • Friday, May 30th- Party
    • Tuesday, June 5th- Class Play & Potluck
    • Thursday, June 7th- Last Day of School

Well families, the ‘wind-down’ is here. Our 1st grade journey is about to come to an end. The children have learned to read and write and to think critically about mathematical concepts. They have engineered, created, and designed many prototypes and have strengthened their scientific minds. They have learned about the human body, nutrition, and growth mindset and about their own gifts and capabilities. They have acquired strategies to regulate their emotions and to resolve conflicts appropriately. Most of all however, they have deepened their understanding of their importance in this world and the impact they can have on making this planet a beautiful, safe, and sustainable place. I am going to miss them beyond words, but know they are ready for their next developmental phase-second grade.

I can’t believe how much they have grown in this short, 10 month period. It has been an honor being their teacher and you are all a part of my life forever.

It doesn’t stop here….

I will see you next year and in the years to come; in school and around town. I will come to high school graduations and enjoy watching the children grow into amazing adults.

Thank you families for allowing me to be a part of your child’s educational journey! Forever friends.

With Humble Regards,



Mid-May in 5th Grade

As always, our class is busy on a number of fronts. All the students are working hard on their research reports. Whether a state profile, a biography, a historical study of some event or time period, or a report about a national park, the students have rolled up their sleeves and are really applying themselves to the project. Most are seeing a good rough draft come together this week and we’ll soon be moving on to a final draft. In geography, we’re well into our study of the 50 US states and their capitals. In math we’ve been learning operations with decimals and fractions, while in science the students seem inordinately interested in our solar system and how we are spinning through our yearly orbit around the sun, but strangely, how we can’t feel the movement ourselves as we hurtle through space. (Bill Nye the Science Guy has been helping us with understanding mass, gravity, and planetary orbits.) In literature we’re nearing the end of Mayfield Crossing and will begin Journey to Topaz by week’s end. Both books (gently) probe around racial bias and how our nation of diverse peoples can get along, or not. I’ve enjoyed the students’ insights, observations, and questions about the books we read together. They’ve made real progress in this area since the first month of the school year.

Today we had part two of the Miles to Go drug education and prevention program alongside Sari’s class. Miles-to-Go uses a lively world geography game as the foundation for an age-appropriate introduction to the students being educated and aware of the various chemicals many humans ingest (or used to ingest.) The 5th grade section taught them about the origins and social history of caffeine, cocaine, and nicotine. Ask your daughter or son some questions about it; they seem quite interested (and astonished at times) about drugs’ varied roles in society.

Looking forward, we have a lot of things in the hopper this week: On Thursday the annual students’ art show kicks off. If you can, take a stroll through the main building and you’ll see lots of great art on display, including some from our class. Also on Thursday we have our second geography quiz. This week it is the middle section of the nation; last week was the western states and their capitals. The kids’ energy and practice really showed and all have done well so far.

On Wednesday  the class has its final endurance run along West Cliff Drive during PE class, so they will want appropriate shoes, along with a solid breakfast to give them energy. Please also remember that Wednesday is a half-day at school with a noon dismissal.

Friday will be busy too– the afternoon sees the Gateway Walkathon here on campus. In the morning, we also have the 5th grade visit to the new Gateway campus at Natural Bridges. I’d like for us all to bicycle there with S-5. It isn’t too far and on safe neighborhood streets. Please send your child to school Friday with their bike and helmet. We’ll have Sari in the school van for any children that don’t have or can’t borrow a bike, or don’t ride one. However, I think it the ride there and back will be a great team-building for our 5th graders and I hope everyone will bring a bike and the van will be relatively empty– so pump up those tires and oil the chains. When there, we’ll do some facilities design work and the kids will have input as to how the school will be configured when they are 6th graders. When we return, we’ll have a normal lunch here at school.

I could use a few parents to cycle with us too. We’ll depart school about 11:05 and return by 12:30. I hope you can join us for the fun. Our previous 5th grade cycling trips have been a highpoint of the year and well worth the hassle of transporting bikes in cars for those families who live far away from school.

May 14 Family Letter

May 14, 2018

Dear Families,

What an AMAZING Spring Concert Performance the children put on Saturday at The Rio Theater!!! I was so touched by this performance and what an outstanding job the kids did reciting their poems! Thank you for helping your child to memorize their poem and lyrics! The second graders really shined and I saw the pride spilling out of the children as they exited the stage. I also loved my Mother’s Day card that I got at the end of the concert.

I’m hoping all moms got to enjoy their day yesterday. I also hope that you received your beautiful Georgia O’Keefe pastel flowers! The children were so engaged and put so much effort into these gifts. I still have mine at home that my son gave me in 2ndgrade.

During the next few weeks I will be assessing the second graders in reading, math and writing. I will be cutting back on homework so that you can spend some family time and also so your children can go to bed early if they need be as assessments can be tiring! If you would like extra assignments, please let me know and I can provide as needed.

On Tuesday, May 29th, we will have our Second Grade All Day Reading Party! This is a 2ndgrade tradition. Please have your child bring a pillow, blanket and a favorite stuffed “friend” to cuddle with and to read to. Bring your favorite books or magazines to read.Make sure names are written in these so that your child can bring them home easily. They can also wear comfy clothes (P. J.’s, sweats, slippers, etc). You might want to pack some extra clothes for your child in case it gets too warm or for playtime outside. This will be a fun day of reading for us!

Don’t’ forget that this coming Monday, the 21st, we will go to Point Lobos! Have your children dress in layers, good walking shoes, apply sunscreen and send a water bottle if possible. Also, a picnic style snack and lunch are good since we will be picnicking for both. We will leave promptly at 8:45, so please be on time. Thanks!

This Wednesday is a half-day for kids as teachers will be meeting to do come planning for our new math program Bridges. Dismissal time is noon and aftercare is free until 3:15 when regular rated apply.

This Friday is our first Walkathon here at Gateway! Please have your child turn in their donation envelope by this Friday, May 18th. Thanks for helping to raise money for The Native California Animal Rescue and The SPCA!

Take care and enjoy your week.