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Winter 2018


Sequoia Healthcare District Note

Dear SCSD Families,

Happy New Year! A new year usually means new beginnings and transitions. SHD bade farewell to former CEO Lee Michelson, and we thank him for his years of dedicated service to SHD and its residents. I hope you will take time to read about his story and learn a bit more about SHD in the process.

A new year also means new resolutions for most people. Many times, resolutions center around health and fitness. My personal resolution is to meditate more, to find more opportunities to engage in mindfulness, and to slow down when life gets too hectic. I hope you find success with your own personal resolutions this year.

The content of this newsletter is focused on issues of safety. Our newsletter editor Stacey Holmes profiled several members in the school community tasked with the responsibility of keeping students safe. It takes a village to raise a child, and in today’s environment, this adage is truer than ever— it takes a caring community to keep children protected, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We invite you to visit our website at http://www.sequoiahealthcaredistrict.com/hsi to read about our Healthy Schools Initiative work and all the ways we are helping your schools take care of your student.

Wishing you all the best,

Pamela Kurtzman, CEO, Sequoia Healthcare District

Special Feature: Up Close with Outgoing CEO of Sequoia Healthcare District

Lee Michelson, outgoing CEO of Sequoia Healthcare District

Q: First, people are probably curious why you are leaving?

All of our family is back East. My wife and I are going to New Jersey to play grandparents.

Q: Your career has been one of service to your communities. What drew you to this line of work?

At 16, I was part of a youth group that went to the poorest neighborhoods in St. Louis and did recreational activities with the children. I was struck by the advantages I had compared to those in poverty, which led me to want to make a difference.

Q: What attracted you to SHD in 2009?

At the time I was working as Executive Director of a Hospital Foundation. I was excited to learn about the wide variety of things the District was involved with and how it was impacting people of all ages. I also liked the idea of playing the role of Funder, instead of Fundraiser.

Q: What changes have you seen at SHD over your tenure?

First and foremost, the Healthy Schools Initiative (HSI) was created. We wanted to influence health as it relates to children. Pamela Kurtzman was tasked with developing the HSI program. HSI has become our largest program with $4 million in funds, representing about 1/3 of our overall budget. The program impacts 28,000 children and touches on a wide variety of issues, including mental health, PE, and school nursing.

Click HERE to read the rest of the interview.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

Bike to School Day at Central

Join the hundreds of kids in San Carlos who have ditched their family cars for  fun, healthy, active transportation to and from school: walking, biking, scootering, and skateboarding! Here in San Carlos, our Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program has dramatically shifted behavior in the past three years at the schools located in the “flats” of San Carlos. Whereas we once had only a dozen cyclists and a handful of skateboards and scooters making their way to Central Middle School, now we have a daily average of 60% using active transportation for Central, Arroyo, and White Oaks schools. Even on the wettest days this year, there were dozens of bikes parked in racks.

In addition to those active modes of transportation, our local SamTrans public bus route now provides more routes than ever. See this link for the updated routes and timetables: http://www.scsdk8.org/wp-content/uploads/SamTrans-Bus-Timetables.pdf

SRTS is a national program that is supported through a grant from our local San Mateo County SRTS program. This funding supports students and families in a variety of ways, including pedestrian safety, pedestrian flags and small infrastructure projects geared toward increasing visibility, and encouraging safe active transportation for the sake of our health as well as the health of the environment.

Every student receives pedestrian safety training and students in 4th and 5th grade at Arroyo School also receive a separate bike safety training with Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. This has resulted in a drastic reduction in “mid-block” crossing, and driveway crossing incidents that previously put students in harm’s way in front of cars. Parents are feeling more comfortable allowing their 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to walk and bike to school because of these trainings.

Pedestrian flags at several crosswalks throughout the district also improved visibility so students are better equipped to make crossings safely. Adding signage at Heather, Tierra Linda and Arundel has been a good step toward improving traffic flow and reducing dangerous drop-offs and pick-ups in the parking lots.

The City of San Carlos also assists our efforts to keep our kids safe when walking/biking to and from school. Here are some ways the city has helped:

  • They contribute 50% of the crossing guard costs.
  • They maintain the pedestrian crosswalk paddles.
  • They added access ramps, striping, signage, and red zones.

We want to express our thanks to the city and our crossing guards for their dedication and support.

A Talk with Kidpower

Erika Leonard, Program Director

Q: What advice do you have for parents to help ensure the safety of their children?

A: Kids with strong boundary skills and help seeking skills end up being less vulnerable to abuse and grown-ups are likely to hear about issues earlier. Even without abuse, boundary skills are important for life, they are the way we decide to communicate/get along with each other. It is important to shift from “what I am scared of” to “what I want my child to know.” In other words, come from a skills-based angle, not a fear-based angle.

Q: What resources can you suggest for parents?

A: We have a wealth of information on our website. Go check out our online library resources.

Here is a sampling:

Kidpower Abuse Prevention

We have four boundary rules for children to remember. First, we belong to ourselves. Some things are not a choice. Problems or any kind of touch should NEVER be a secret. Lastly, keep asking until you get help.

4 Strategies for Protecting Kids from Sexual Predators

In areas like San Carlos, a “small town feel” with minimal crime, it is easy to feel safe, but it can be an illusion.

Resisting the Illusion of Safety.

Kidpower Safety Tips for Parents

Use Kidpower’s Safety Tips Handout to start teaching children how to be safe from abuse, bullying, harassment, assault, and other violence.

Safety Tips include:

  • Stay aware
  • Move away from trouble
  • Stay calm and confident
  • Protect your feelings

When talking with your child about safety remember to acknowledge your child’s feelings, gather more information by listening, asking open-ended questions, and be sensitive but direct with information.

Emotional Safety

(A Parent’s Perspective)

Call it spirited, stubborn, determined, or persistent. Whatever word you use to describe that quality, my daughter has it. While this trait will serve her well later in life, for now it is nothing but hair pulling to parent. Let’s take last Saturday as an example…

Continue reading HERE.

Parent Education Events

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

Coaches and Child Protection

The Legarza coaches play important roles as our elementary PE teachers, lunchtime supervisors, and coaches for our middle school sports and afterschool programs.

I sat down with Chloe Sargeant, PE Program Director, to talk about the child safety training our coaches receive.

At the beginning of each school year, they are sent an online training course by the district. Each instructor must complete the course and confirmation of completion is sent to the district.

They have a protocol binder with guidelines to follow including  no photographing students and no coach should ever be alone with a student.

Chloe wants parents to know that a significant amount of training goes into class management, including child safety.

There are four PE coaches for each grade of 85 to 115 students, giving us an approximate ratio of 1:28. The coaches support each other in case of any difficult situation and they are in constant communication with Miss Cindy, the SCSD PE and Nutrition Liaison, as well as school principals and our Wellness Director.

Sequoia Healthcare District
San Carlos School District

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

Contact Mindy Hill, Wellness Coordinator


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

Being Out-and-About Town: Safety Tips from School Resource Officer Wally Rosales

Wally with San Carlos Kids
Q: What safety tips can you offer parents and kids when kids are out and about town?

First, it depends on the age of the child. For younger children out in public, it is better if they are accompanied by a parent, friend, or sibling. For middle schoolers, they should avoid any place they know may have potential for questionable behavior. They should also always be aware of their surroundings. Keep in mind that perpetrators look for people who are not paying attention. Try to ensure your kids hang out with the proper crowds. Kids shouldn’t hang out with troublemakers or people who dare/influence them to do bad things. It is paramount that they report anything unusual, suspicious people or vehicle. The phone number to call is 650.363.4911. It is open 24/7.

Q: What observations have you made about kids being out-and-about town?

My main observation is that they need to be more aware of their surroundings. While walking they shouldn’t have their phone out or keep their heads down. Also, they need to work to avoid distractions and focus on what is around them, especially at intersections.

Q: What are a key few things you want parents to know?

As a School Resource Officer, I want parents to emphasize the importance of immediately reporting anything suspicious. Also, parents should instruct kids to be aware of their surroundings. If a parent has a safety concern please contact the San Carlos Patrol Bureau at (650) 802-4277.

On a related note, Wally Rosales has a new assignment and so we will have a different School Resource Officer. Wally’s successor is being selected and will be announced soon. We thank Wally for his devoted service to our district and we wish him all the best of luck.

Safety and Media for Young Children

Aaron Nayfack, M.D.

Aaron with his family

I want to thank Aaron for taking the time to talk with me about this topic. It was a pleasure to get to know Aaron. He and his family live in San Carlos, his wife is a San Carlos School Board Member, and they are Dodgers fans. The biggest issues that Aaron’s patients are often asking about include exposure to material that kids aren’t mature enough to process, and interactions with strangers online.

The advice Aaron gives us is to encourage appropriate digital citizenship as our children get older. Families should have a family media plan that they create and agree to together. The plan can include agreements about the amount of time spent on media, what type of content is allowed, where and when media time takes place (for example: are phones allowed at dinner), and what monitoring parents will do (for older kids.)

As a parent, if you find something that is not appropriate, explain to older kids why, and for younger kids it is okay to simply state that rules are rules.

There is emerging literature about addiction, and therapists are starting to focus on that. Also, you can start by talking to your child’s pediatrician about your media plan and how it’s working or not working so well.

The key take-aways Aaron wants you to know are that nothing replaces parent monitoring. You have to be involved. You are a role model. If you are concerned about your child’s usage, look in the mirror first. What appropriate behavior are you showing them? Last but not least, we are all struggling with this so you shouldn’t feel alone.

Two resources Aaron recommends are Common Sense Media and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Child Protection Unit

I caught up with two of our school counselors, Kim Arasato from BA and Mariposa and Laura Macfarlane from White Oaks, to talk about what our TK – 5th grade kids are learning in school about personal safety.




Counselor Kim Arasato teaching the Second Step Curriculum

TK – 5th Grade

The school counselors use the Second Step Child Protection Curriculum. They go into the classrooms and teach the curriculum with the teacher present. As they go through the content, they are watching to make sure kids are comfortable and monitoring students who may need extra support.

There are six lessons in the curriculum which cover the following topics:

  • Personal safety
    • Ways to Stay Safe
    • The “Always Ask First” Rule
  • Touching Safety
    • Safe and Unsafe Touches
    • The Touching Rule
  • Assertiveness Training
    • Practicing Staying Safe
    • Reviewing Safety Skills

What the counselors find very useful is that kids do a lot of role play to actively practice the skills in each theme. For example, older students might practice the scenario of what to do if a soccer coach asks you to stay after practice. Students practice telling the coach assertively that they have to ask their parents first. Each scenario helps emphasize the actual language/terms they could use, as well as the tone and volume of voice.


Two Key Concepts: Way to Stay Safe and the Never-Never Rules

School counselors ask parents to always read the materials that come home and review them with your children. Reinforce the three ways to stay safe concept: Recognize, Refuse, Report and make sure they understand “Who is the trusted adult?”  Also, give kids scenarios about these concepts to see how they would respond, then talk through their responses in an open way. For example, for the concept of Recognize, Refuse and Report, you might have younger children think about a situation where there might be pushing on the playground, or visiting a friend’s house and finding a gun under the bed.

How would they use the 3Rs?  While it may be awkward, it is important to talk about private part touching. A fun way to reinforce the curriculum is by singing these songs: “8 Never Nevers” and “Ways to Stay Safe”. Lastly, please ask for additional support from your school counselor if needed.

6th – 8th Grade

Julie Jobak, Central Middle School Counselor, spoke to me about the child safety program that is taught at both Central and Tierra Linda Middle Schools.

Julie Jobak teaching Second Step to Central Middle Schoolers

The classroom teachers use the Second Step Middle School Curriculum to teach the following topics throughout the school year:

  • Gender Harassment
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Drug and Alcohol Prevention

Each family has their own Second Step account where you can look up what is being taught to your children.

I asked Julie what two or three pieces of advice she has for middle school parents. As a middle school parent myself, her answers really hit home. I even found myself asking her specific questions about how I can achieve better communication with my child! When it comes to safety, communication is critical. She suggests that we figure out how best to communicate with our child.

What style fits with your child? For example, maybe you and your child want to journal back and forth. Or maybe your child opens up best when they are in the car with you. Also, be aware of how you react to what they say. Work on being a great listener and accepting what you hear. Lastly, have a strong support system, whether that be your spouse, best friend, book club, etc.

If you need some support, please feel free to contact Julie, jjobak@scsdk8.org, or Vivian, vgarlick@scsdk8.org.

Media Safety

Teen Talk: What Works to Stop Cyberbullying 

This article details a survey of approximately 5,700 middle and high school students from around the United States. About 1/3 said they had been cyberbullied. Here is what they said works to stop/deter the bullying:

  • Block: nearly 1/3 of the students said that blocking the person worked for them.
  • Ignore: close to 1/5 of the students said that ignoring the person worked for them.
  • Get parents involved: About ½ of the students said that they had reported the experience to their parents. This is the highest rate in any of their surveys! Almost 17% said telling their parents was helpful.
  • Take a tech break: 15% of the students said that taking a tech break helped fend off the online bullying.

Cell Phone Safety Tips

Putting in place a set of ground rules around cell phone use is an important step. This article lists a number of useful suggestions to consider. A sampling includes:

  • I do not own this phone. My parents are awesome, and they are giving me the privilege of using this phone.
  • Nothing is free. This phone, and the ability to use it, costs money. I will work hard to earn this privilege.
  • I will take care of my phone. If I break it, I have to replace it. If I lose it, I have to replace it.
  • I will never send a mean or hurtful text. If I have a disagreement with somebody, we will talk face to face.
  • I will not talk or text after 9 pm.

Having just learned from my pre-teen what GOAT stands for (Greatest Of All Time), I decided I needed to brush up on my online vocabulary. In case you want to also, here is a Digital Glossary.