Director, 3rd - 6th Language Arts
With a healthy dose of right place/right time, Deric McLean found his dream teaching job at Santa Cruz Children’s School after earning his credential in 2009. After years of taking on more and more of a leadership role, he was extremely honored to be entrusted by the school’s founders to take over, with his lovely wife, as school directors in 2015.
In addition to serving as the director, Deric McLean is the Language Arts teacher for upper half of the school. He also enjoys teaching a different science subject to everyone each year including Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science. He holds a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Jose State University, along with a BA in English from Santa Clara University.
In Language Arts, students are challenged daily to grow their reading, writing, and speaking skills while developing a true sense of personal responsibility for their work. Students are taught flexibility and ease with all modes of writing and reading. In addition to reading assignments in every genre and style, students participate in self-organized, and largely student-led, Book Clubs with their classmates.
In addition to essays, narratives, and other nonfiction writing, creative writing is an important element of language arts. Students are challenged to find their own voice across genres by writing in an environment that is both assignment driven and about constant personal progress. Students are taught to use any and all tools at their disposal to help them on this quest, from mentor texts to peer feedback, and most importantly: the lost art of revision. This environment has resulted in students who write for the pure joy of it.
Joanna McLean is happy to point out that she found the job listing and encouraged the bike ride that led Deric to teach at, and ultimately lead, Santa Cruz Children’s School. Of course, she had no idea at the time what an incredible impact being part of such a community would have on their lives. Now, as the Administrative Director of SCCS she has dived into her role head first, and though primarily working behind the scenes, is an integral part of the day to day operations of the school. A graduate of UC San Diego with a degree in Human Development, she has spent her adult life working with children of all ages, creating and running programs, and mentoring teens and young adults seeking to do the same. She spent many years with the YMCA serving as a residential camp counselor and director, an outdoor educator, and a school age child care director. She also spent several seasons as Operations Coordinator at Camp Galileo in the Bay Area. In addition to her new responsibilities at the school, Joanna takes care of Deric and their son, who is now officially a student at Santa Cruz Children’s School.
Andrea Randall has been the lead teacher for the youngest children since 2003. She holds a California State Teaching Credential from Sonoma State with an emphasis in early childhood education.
Her well organized, creative curriculum invites young children to learn in a cheerful environment. Her students hear stories, respond to literature, and keep journals. They build phonics, reading, writing, and math skills with a variety of activities at a pace that is individualized for each person. Andrea has developed and published language arts curriculum that incorporates puppets, songs, handwriting, and bookmaking into an irresistible classroom experience for her students.
Homework might include exploring a “homework kit” which is a themed container full of books, language arts activities, and math games to be shared with the family. Whether it’s a picnic basket, a paint bucket, and a pizza box, the homework kits bring learning, fun, and family together.
Andrea also created and teaches LOST (short for LOcal STudies), where students learn all about the rich history, culture, and art from all over Santa Cruz County through in-class projects and monthly (or more!) field trips.
In Andrea’s classes, students (including her own two boys) enjoy learning every day and are able to thrive in an enriching, engaging, and challenging environment.
Spanish, & Strings
Adriana Villalon has been with Santa Cruz Children’s School since 2014.
As a violinist, she has always tried to incorporate music into her teaching when possible and believes that children benefit from learning across the curriculum.
She enjoys weaving learning themes across the different subjects such as cooking, singing, Spanish, English, reading, math and science. She teaches Spanish to the whole school as well as strings to the students who choose the violin or cello for their instrument after 2nd grade.
Adriana holds a California State Teaching Credential from Long Beach State and has a major in Music Performance. She also has specialized in microbiology and music therapy. In addition to her time at SCCS, Adriana has experience as a Kindergarten teacher and over 20 years experience as an instrumental music instructor.
3rd-6th Math & STEAM
Nicole joined the SCCS family in 2017 and brings with her a wealth of experience, creativity, and enthusiasm for teaching. With over 10 years of elementary classroom experience, 6 years of experience developing art curriculum as the Executive Director of Young Rembrandts, a masters in education, an experienced home school instructor and trainer she can (and has!) designed quality, individualized curriculum for just about any subject.
Nicole is the math teacher for the upper two age groups at SCCS. She takes on the mighty task of making sure each student is allowed to progress at their pace, whether that's working hard to make their grade level or pushing well into high school math and everything in between. She somehow manages to keep it all fun by incorporating group projects and math related challenges, like her escape room, that allows everyone of all levels to find the joy in math.
She alsp brings her passion for innovation (and mess) to her S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) class, a huge favorite among the students body.
Lars has had 15 years teaching experience and specializes in silver flute, Irish flute and baroque flute. Lars has studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Royal Conservatory of Hague in Holland.
Anne graduated from UCSC with a BA in Music, and has devoted her life to the arts. For the past 20 years she has been involved in Waldorf education and most recently received her MA in Waldorf Education. She has been teaching and performing music and dance in the Bay Area for the past 30 years and enjoys working with all ages.
Originally from Santa Cruz, Noah Luce graduated Magna Cum Laude from Cornish College of the Arts in 2011 with a BFA in Acting. He is an experienced voice and speech teacher, has interned at the Seattle Children’s Theater, and run children’s acting workshops for children aged 7-13. He is a working stage actor and has been the Operations Manager for Santa Cruz Shakespeare for the last two seasons.
Tara Firenzi has been teaching history since 2003. Her experience includes ten years teaching AP World History at Pacific Collegiate School, where she also served as Chair of the History Department, and Dean of Faculty. She majored in history at UCLA, and earned a masters degree in History from Stanford. She is credentialed by the state of California to teach both history and physical education, as well as holding an administrative credential. Tara is also a tap dancer, and dance instructor, who teaches at several different studios in Santa Cruz County.
Michele Bigley wears many hats. Award-winning travel journalist. Author. Explorer. Teacher. Mother. Environmentalist. Public Speaker. Activist.
LIFE LAB & PE
Wendy is a lifelong athlete, a former division I college basketball player, a cookbook author, cooking instructor, food blogger, event coordinator, and avid gardner.
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