Fall 2017


Sequoia Healthcare District Note

Dear SCSD Families,

Two months into 2017-18 school year and our collaboration is off to a great start! With funding from the Sequoia Healthcare District, SCSD’s middle school and mental health staff have already been trained on Kognito, an online simulation program that helps staff recognize and talk to students who may be in distress. Also, the newest member to our Sequoia Healthcare District team— Program Coordinator Jenny Bratton—is providing support to SCSD’s Wellness Coordinator Mindy Hill with on-going wellness efforts.

Last year, our quarterly newsletters focused on issues of gender, safety, and empathy (click on links to revisit these past issues). This year, as our schools continue their commitment to our kids through a “5 C’s” approach (Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, Creativity and Citizenship), we use this space to take a closer look at Creativity. This issue of the SCSD Wellness Journal offers some tools to develop your child’s Growth Mindset through creativity, which not only fosters higher-level creative problem-solving skills but also a sense of well-being.

Many parent-friendly resources have been vetted and selected in this issue by our Wellness Newsletter editor, Stacey Holmes. I urge you to click on the link provided here for these resources and to learn about creative outlets and spaces available to your child.

Wishing you all the best,

Pamela Kurtzman, Director of Grants and Programs, Sequoia Healthcare District

Learning Equals Innovation Plus a Capital “C”

“Innovation” — a corporate buzzword that simultaneously seems as much a part of our culture as food trucks and smart phones, and yet can still seem somewhat lofty and distant; like it belongs to someone else and we just glimpse at it by downloading it on our apps. If you’re like me, the word brings a little worry with it too: Am I an innovator? Are my kids learning to be innovators? How do we innovate a solution to this problem now? Where is that magic garage of innovation, anyway? Companies around the globe invest billions of dollars to boost innovation, and here in SCSD our Strategic Plan centers around one of the key pillars of innovation: CREATIVITY.

Click HERE for the rest of the article!

Mindy Hill, SCSD Wellness Director

Arroyo School: Where the Wild Things Are

A Wild Zone is a space dedicated to unstructured free play in a natural setting. It has mulch, stumps, and wood.

It’s amazing how much the kids find to do with so little. In the Wild Zone, children are calmer and more collaborative.

Collaboration allows for positive relations which are a key ingredient in well-being.

When the Arroyo School Wild Zone was being created, the 8th grade art class at Central was asked to give their input. Their feedback and enthusiasm was very helpful. They shared the importance of kids needing to take risks to know what they are capable of doing.

SCCT Interview with Eron Block

I sat down with Eron Block, Executive Artistic Director, to talk about San Carlos Children’s Theater and its impact on our San Carlos students.

Q: How do you define creativity?

A: Creativity is about making choices and exploring those choices. Also, creativity is a muscle that requires repetitive work. If you practiced like LeBron and did that with creativity, you would be successful.

Q: Have you seen examples where creative expression has led to an increase in well-being?

A: Most definitely. I see students that are more excited and confident about learning. Their attitudes change and even their body language changes. The creative freedom gives them a positive sense of self, a key ingredient in well-being.

“In theater, the first trimester is designated to improv, or acting without script. This has really helped me with thinking on my feet, and being able to go with the flow when things don’t go as planned. Theater has also taught me to trust my instincts, and make bold choices even if they don’t always work out.” 

(Lauren Wu, 8th Grade CMS Theater Class)

Doing Something Creative Can Boost Your Well-Being

“We can add creativity to the list of ‘actionable things’ people can do to take charge of their well-being,” says Tamlin Conner, a researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Also, consider:

  • Personality made no difference in the link between creativity and well-being.
  • Everyone and anyone can benefit from introducing creativity in their daily lives.

    Small Acts of Creativity Can Boost Your Overall Well-Being

  • Creativity in general is more associated with positive emotion and well-being.
  • Doing creative things today predicts improvement in well-being tomorrow. Full stop.

Since we know that exercising our creativity can lead to improved levels of well-being, we as parents, can use that information to support our children. If we know that our child is going to have a potentially stressful day we can try to incorporate creativity the day before.

Parent Events

Below is a sampling of upcoming parent education events. Click HERE for a complete list in our calendar section.


One of the most important aspects of parenting is finding humor in our day-to-day.

Video for Kids

This short animal video can be an easy and fun way to talk at home with our kids about mistakes, failures, motivation, and commitment as a required part of learning/success.

Design Class at Central Middle School, Taught by Greg Zillmer

In design class there is high-tech gear including 3-D printers and circuit equipment, as well as low-tech tools including cardboard, hot glue, and strawberry baskets.

The curriculum is designed around “design challenges” whereby student groups are given a goal, a set of constraints, and tools. For example, one challenge is to create a switch. Another challenge is to create a bridge that must have a 14” span, must hold 20 pounds, etc.

This program gives kids agency, the capacity to act independently and to make free choices, based on will. Feelings of agency contribute to people’s feelings life satisfaction and overall well-being.

“Design class is different because you think in a completely different way. It’s all about re-designing and re-prototyping. And even after you get it right, you can still make it better.”

(Central Middle School Student)

Growth Mindset Promotes Creativity Which Encourages a Sense of Well-being

A Growth Mindset Fuels Creativity in Youth

“Creativity is a key component of health and happiness and a core skill to practice with kids.”

Practicing Creativity in School and at Home

Grade School Home
1 – 3 PlayPod

Fairy Tale Eng.

Build a fort, read in it

Theme dress up night

4 – 5 Wild Zone



Make a gift

Make dinner in 1 color

6 – 8 Design


Put photos to music

“Design Challenge”:

  • Skateboard ramp
  • Create an instrument
  • A place to keep keys

A Scientist’s Viewpoint by AdaptEd

What is the science behind growth mindset?

Growth Mindset Video

You can change your brain. Your brain is full of cells called neurons. When you learn new things these tiny cells in the brain multiply and get stronger.
The more you challenge your mind to learn, the more your brain cells grow, leading to a stronger, smarter brain. As a result, things that once seemed hard actually become easier. Growing new and stronger cells requires practice and hard work.

Does Your Child Know How to Operate a Skilsaw? At Makerspace They Will.

Makerspace – a community center with tools

An Interview with Arroyo School’s Makerspace Facilitator, Katie Gotelli:

Q: What can you find in Makerspace?

A: You’ll find beads to skilsaws and everything in between.

Q: What observations have you made?

A: I find that Makerspace can level the playing field. Often, children who don’t do well in regular classes excel here which boosts their self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.

Q: What are some example projects?

A: I had one child who wanted to develop a wake-up tool that hits him on the head. I had a group of 5th grade boys who wanted to learn how to use the sewing machine.This year, the 5th grade class will build a mini-golf course where each hole has lights and a motor.

“I like the Makerspace because I can get really creative and it helps me expand my imagination.”

(Arroyo School Student)



Sequoia Healthcare District
San Carlos School District

Tell us what you think!
Click here to take our short survey.

Contact Mindy Hill, Wellness Coordinator

What Influences Our Well-Being?

Carol Ryff’s Model of Psychological Well-Being

The Six Criteria of Well-Being

“Well-being is multidimensional, and not merely about happiness, or positive emotions.”

The 6 categories of well-being are:

  • Self-Acceptance
  • Personal Growth
  • Purpose in Life
  • Positive Relations with Others
  • Environmental Mastery
  • Autonomy

PlayPod: A Loose Parts Play Experience

White Oaks is in their second year with the PlayPod.

Introduction Video

Q: What is in a PlayPod?

A: Cones, cylinders, baskets, PVC pipe, tires, tarps, cardboard boxes, ramps.

Q: What observations have been made watching the kids using the PlayPod?

A: Playground conflicts are significantly reduced when the PlayPod is open.

We see pure excitement in their eyes. There is a spark, then we hear “Let’s build this!”

Our kids are busy building, imagining, growing their problem-solving skills, and having fun!

Many kids who didn’t relate to the traditional activities at lunch/recess are finding a purpose which is an element to well-being.

“I like how you can create whatever you want. You don’t have to copy anybody. You can use your imagination. It’s really fun that you don’t have to work by yourself. You can work together, like teamwork.”

(Sophie, 1st grade)

Creativity in the Classroom

A Conversation with the 2nd Grade Teacher, Marcy Corea

In the classroom, Marcy has seen how Project Base Learning (PBL) makes room for creativity. In turn, creativity builds self-esteem. You come across kids that struggle with traditional academics but creativity is where they shine. This helps them build self-acceptance which fuels well-being.

For example, the best simile she has ever seen came from one of her second graders: “My brother is as annoying as the sun in my eyes.”

Marcy’s message to parents about creativity at home is to let kids take the lead and to make sure there is plenty of time, space, and supplies.

Fairy Tale Engineering

Have you ever heard of Fairy Tale Engineering? Well, it exists and the students at Brittan Acres experienced the program last year.

They were told the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff and were tasked with trying to find a way for the goats to get over the bridge. Students were taught the Engineering Design Process.

This process gives the children a sense of control over their environment, which positively influences their sense of well-being.

“I learned how to combine art and engineering.”
“I loved testing our boats to see how many goats we could fit.”
(Brittan Acres Students)

Fun Facts

Creativity in Education and Why It Matters

71% of college-educated professionals think creativity should be taught as a course, like math and science.

82% wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students.

78% say creativity is very important to their career, but only 57% thought so when they were in college.

Interestingly, math and science ranked nearly as high as traditional creative subjects in contributing to creative.

Family/Child Events

TechShop, conveniently located in Redwood City, offers a wide variety of classes. Here is a sample:

PACE is a leading contemporary art gallery

The Art Center of Redwood City and San Carlos

Fun Quizzes

What is Your Creative Style?

Take this 8-question test to find out what your creativity says about you and weave more creativity into your life.

Learn More About Your Mindset

Take this 8-question test to find out more about your mindset and cultivate your growth mindset practices.