The End of the Trail

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of the 2017-18 school year! The students recently said they can’t believe how quickly our time together as flown by and I agree with them. Gosh, didn’t we just have spring break a few weeks ago? Spring has seemingly been a whirlwind of classroom projects, field trips, learning about middle school, tackling more complicated math concepts, buddy class visits, life lab activities, the big spring music performance, pelagic animals, and… well, it has been a full year to say the least. Naturally the kids are excited about the arrival of summer vacation, but also a little sad that our year together is coming to a close on Thursday.

This year’s crop of research reports was quite good and the students are justifiably proud of their efforts. We had about eight biographies, four state reports, a summary of the American Civil War, another about the Great Depression, a study of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in America, a history of the United States’ flag, and a report about the Everglades in Florida. This morning we were asked to narrow down our year’s learning activities to one thing to share with the rest of the school during the Step-Up ceremony on Thursday and the class overwhelmingly chose their research projects.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we’ll have the 5th graders’ final time in Life Lab with Caprice and their pizza party. You are invited too; in case you didn’t see the email about it, here are the times and groups:

10:50-11:40 for Group A– Cal, Emmet, Noah, Cherry, Lou, Luke, Dylan, Sarah, and Anna
11:40-12:30 for Group B– Cliff, Daniel, Ethan, Scarlett, Julia, Colin, Grace, and Ella


On Wednesday we’ll be packing up and doing some final assessments, but we’ll also take time for a quick celebration and some ice cream together in the afternoon. We’ll walk to Marini’s on Beach Street at 2:00 and  be back to Gateway by 3:00. If you’d like to join us, please do! I’m buying, so no need to send money with your child (or bring it for yourself.)

For Thursday, we’ll wrap things up together in B-5 and say our good-byes. We’ll also participate in the school-wide activities during the morning and then listen to the 8th graders’ speeches in the afternoon. We’ll be outside a lot; please send your daughter or son to school with a jacket for the morning and some sun screen and a hat for the afternoon. (The students know what to bring but it won’t hurt to double-check that they haven’t forgotten anything.) Also, a sturdy grocery bag will be needed to bring home their portfolios of school work. (Paper or cloth is fine, but if it is paper, double-bagging will hold the weight better than single bags.)

With summer arriving soon, I have one concern to share. Our long summer break is great for a lot of things but we teachers often find that most students are pretty rusty when they return to school in late August. I hope you will help your child do various learning activities over summer, but especially in reading, writing, and math. If you want some help with getting useful math material, the school offers a summer skills math book that I think is good. But whatever the source, I would recommend all my students do some math over summer, say Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays for about 20 minutes per session. A mix of review and new material will be time well spent and they’ll go into middle school more able to tackle the concepts in their math class compared to those students who don’t do anything. If you are interested, see Nikki in the main office for one of the summer math books. I believe they are about twenty dollars. For reading, let your child’s interests be the guide, but they should be reading most days of the week for at least 20 minutes silently. If reading aloud to you, 8-10 minutes will work well for that. For writing, composing a few letters to grandparents or other distant relatives is a good thing to do, as is keeping a journal of each week’s events.

Well, I guess that’s it. Thanks everyone! Whether you volunteered to drive on a field trip, were a camp chaperone, helped us learn about marine science at the Seymour Discovery Lab, or bicycled with us to the new campus recently, it all made 5th grade better for the children. I want to sincerely thank everyone who volunteered to help us in any way, but especially all of you who helped with grading vocabulary workbooks on Fridays– in particular Carla Erwin, Jose Chavez, and Becky Luksich. A big thank-you goes out to Sherie L’Heureux for doing a fine job keeping us all up to speed with her great class activity calendars, and to the indefatigable Karen Jensen for again getting us to Marin Headlands so smoothly. I’ll look forward to seeing everyone during the next few days, but if we don’t connect I send you best wishes for a relaxing summer. For me, it is a bittersweet time. I’m looking forward to be retired soon, but also a little sad to be sending my last class of 5th graders off to middle school one last time. I’m sure they will do fine next year– and so will we all. Thanks, everyone, for a great last year at Gateway.



June 4th Newsletter

Dear Families,

It’s hard to believe that this is our last newsletter of the year! We would like to thank you for helping to make this a wonderful third grade year. You supported your child with homework, with questions about the day, driving, walking and chaperoning on our Outdoor Classroom trips, helping in Life Lab and with the other co-curricular classes.   A special thank you to Lisa for sending updates and for being our wonderful GFA representative this year.

Thank you to those who were able to come to our Author’s Party today! The students were joyful and confident as they shared their writing with families. It was a very happy event for all, and a wonderful way to celebrate the accomplishments of our special third grade community.

This Thursday morning, there is a Parent Appreciation Coffee in the West Cliff Room. Administration and Staff would like to express our gratitude to all of you for the tremendous amount of support you have given to our students throughout the year. Please come and have some coffee and goodies.

On Thursday, there is also our Step Up ceremony (whole school) from 9:00 to 9:45, and Step Up Day from 9:45-10:15 (when only the students visit 4th grade). In the afternoon, we will watch the 8th grade graduation ceremony from 1:00 to 2:45. Sometimes, the graduation goes a little longer. If it goes until 3:00, we will be with the students until that time. You are welcome to come to the 9:00 Step-Up Ceremony, and to the afternoon 8th Grade Graduation if you would like to. Please ask your child to wear their red Gateway t-shirt to school on Thursday. It will be going home in the Wednesday bag.  If anyone forgets to wear it on Thursday, we have extra. The t-shirt will be yours to keep after graduation.

Your child will be bringing home a large bag of third grade classroom items on Wednesday. Please take time to look through the bag. It will be filled with books, projects, drawings and other papers from this year. Note about math journals: as you can see, we did not do all of the pages in both volumes. We supplement work in the math journal with the other kinds of math puzzles and games during class. Feel free to use undone pages (especially math box pages) as optional summer practice for your child. The section after our last page in Volume 2 has not been covered, so your child might not understand some of those pages. The most important summer math practice for everyone is regular practice of multiplication and division facts 0 – 10, in preparation for fourth grade.


We would like to thank you for participating so enthusiastically in our third grade collaboration this year. Your support of our innovative model is one of the reasons we love working at Gateway so much. We know it comes as no surprise that we – Julie and Kaia – have truly enjoyed this special and loving group of students and families. Please come see us in our classrooms in the fall at our new campus!

All the best,

Julie and Kaia

May 29 Family Letter

May 29, 2018

Dear Families,

The Point Lobos trip was fantastic! Thanks to all who came along! We finally got dry weather as we learned about the various habitats on our coast.  The docent that led our group was very knowledgeable and I learned so much! Also, Tim Blakeslee, Finn’s dad, taught us about lilac and how the natives used it as soap! Please visit out class gallery as I added some other photos!

Thank you for coming to our Keynote presentations! The children were so proud of themselves as was I. They really didn’t have much practice and I thought they were beautifully presented. I also love how the children all put their own touch by personalizing them with chosen animation, font and style. Bravo second graders! I hope you all brought home a poetry book with our haikus and drawings. I also hope you were able to access the keynotes from the Google Link I sent you.

Ilana, our art teacher asked me to give you this message:

I have written a thank you letter (I refuse to call it a “goodbye letter”) and I hope you will read it and share it with your families. It can be found on my blog. Here is the link :

For planning purposes, here are some important dates coming up:

Thursday May 31: Kindness Jar Party 1:00-2:00 in class (not sure what we are doing yet, but we will decide as a class!)

Friday, June 1: Talent Show grades K-4 9:00-10:00/ grades 5-8 1:30-2:30 We will be an audience for shows- please feel free to come and join us!

Monday, June 4: End of the Year Party11:00-2:00 Please see online invitation from Chris, Suzanne and Layla

Tuesday, June 5:  We will have a “Game time” from 10:30-11:50. I will explain this to the class soon. Your children are welcome to bring any board games to share and this time will be set aside for them to play games! I encourage games that foster learning in math and word building, but not adamant about it!

Thursday, June 7: Last Day of School- Step Up Ceremony 9:00-10:00 noon dismissal

Please let me know if you have any questions about anything and enjoy your week!


May 29th Newsletter

Dear Families,

Welcome back from the three-day weekend. We hope you had an enjoyable holiday!

We are spending these last few days of third grade looking back on the year and enjoying our time together. Students are sharing memories and making paper Memory Quilts that display favorite third grade activities. This year has flown by so quickly! It has been a very special year.

The Local Business Reports are here now, and on display. Students are proud of their hard work, and they deserve to be! These reports are wonderful! Thank you so much for supporting your child through this process. Along with the Biography Reports and Poetry Books, the Local Business Reports represent the culmination of a year of study and writing. We are looking forward to celebrating these amazing writers at our Author’s Party. Please RSVP if you can come from 1:45 to 2:45 on Monday, June 4th. Please also bring a small finger foods snack. We look forward to seeing you!

 Dates to Remember:

June 1st: Talent Show 8:45 to 10:00 (Grades 1 to 4 will perform at this time), and 1:30 to 2:30  


June 3rd: Gateway Good-bye Party 4:00 to 6:00


June 4th: Third Grade Author’s Party 1:45 to 2:45


June 7th: Step-Up Ceremony and Graduation Day

                     (Third Grade will be dismissed at 2:45)


Have a great week!

Julie and Kaia

Life’s bumps and humps…..

Hello Dear GWMS Families:

It has been over a month since I wrote you an update about Spanish classes and such but, as most of you may know, I had a couple of weeks of illness that truly took me to my knees.  Sadly, this meant I was not able to join the 8th grade class on their trip to Washington DC.  I so love taking this capstone trip with our graduates and was heart broken to not be well enough to accompany them this year. The good news, however, is that my dear “amiga” and colleague, Ana Pena, stepped in with only a few hours of notice to take the trip with Teacher Kim and the group.  Ana, having taught these kids, some as far back as Kindergarten, was so delighted to re-unite with them for such a memorable experience. Ana and I have traveled extensively with students in the past so they were in the best of company between Kim, GWS parent Kai and Ana herself. Not only, unfortunately, did I miss this wonderful adventure with the 8th grade but also their trip the following week to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.  This time it was my dear friend and our wonderful AHOS, Sherri Helvie, who jumped in to be on board for this wonderful multi-lingual/multi-cultural experience with the students. Muchisimas gracias to my dear colleagues who stepped in to help and, of course, to students and families who sent well wishes.

Speaking of 8th graders, shortly upon their return from our nation’s capital, many of them were faced with taking their High School Spanish placement exams. Most of our students will place into a 2nd year High School Spanish class as Freshmen and a few more into 3rd year. Buena suerte, amigos!

Seventh grade enjoyed their first pleasure reading novelette in Spanish, CASI SE MUERE (He Almost Dies), during my absence participating in a Humanities familiar reading and response activity to reiterate their understanding of plot and characters. This user friendly novelette is written entirely in Spanish with not a single reference or translation to English. Seventh graders will wrap up their 7th grade Spanish class this year with skit production from the TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) series of Cuentos de Ensalada (Saladtown Stories). Is romance in the air between two upstanding potato citizens of Saladtown?

Sixth graders are also culminating their TPRS (Cuentos…..) studies with the most tragic of episodes! It is scandalous and oh, so dramatic. Let’s just say that they will be witness to a tomato crime in the Central Park in Saladtown and then find themselves invited to attend a funeral for the demised. Shhhhhhh………it is all top “secreto” at this point.

As I write this, my end of the year installment for Blog School Year 2017-2018, it is with a bittersweet feeling of imminent change, nostalgia and a certain wistfulness as we all say good-bye to this long time Gateway School campus on Eucalyptus St.  We all hold so many, many rich memories of families, children, growing, learning and loving in these classrooms, outdoor spaces and especially our beautiful garden. But, alas, it is not a building nor even a garden that are held the most dear in our hearts. It is the people we shared the spaces with every day for so very many years. Those children who nearly “grew up” here have now launched into new lives for themselves possibly with their own families but certainly making new memories. Que sera, sera!  That said, I relish the excitement, challenges and new learning that will take place on our new campus near Natural Bridges. We will all move forward together always in search of knowledge and growth and, of course, of the wonderful heart connections we make forever with each other.

Vayan con Dios, mis queridos…

Maestra Patty

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.