Stronger Together

Dear community member,

I want to share my gratitude for the hundreds of people who attended our celebrations of the Santa Cruz County school community over the past two weeks. 

We capped these two events last night at Sequoia Schools in Watsonville with a stunning array of performances — from Academia de Música Ilusión’s youth mariachi and El Sistema’s percussion and violin, to recitations from several of our talented Poetry Out Loud students. Meanwhile, Sequoia High School’s Culinary Arts program treated us to a mouth-watering spread of tamales, quesadillas, arroz con gandules and salsa de ajo. 

We haven’t had a chance to come together in-person in this way since before the pandemic, and it was a true delight to see so many of our families, partners, and educators celebrating together. 

As I shared, this is a challenging yet exciting moment in education. We are fully focused on building on collaborations deepened in recent years to support the wellness, safety, and equitable achievement of all learners. Those key initiatives include implementing a Whole Child Data system, building an Educator Pipeline, expanding our Educational Equity Council, providing mental health first aid training in partnership with all 10 districts, expanding our ICS system to include early childhood educators and private schools, and our ongoing effort to open Wellness Centers at all 8 public high schools — for which we recently received $1 million in federal support.

I also want to extend my deepest appreciation to each of our speakers, Keisha Browder, Francisco “Paco” Estrada, and students Marlize Velasco and Morielle Mamaril. It was a privilege to provide a platform for each of these powerful voices to reflect on the state of education in our community, the importance of wellness and equity, and the essential role of student voice. Together we are so much stronger.

Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools