El Montecito School Year News

Jeannine Morgan, Head of El Montecito School, was beaming from ear to ear when I went to talk with her about what is new for her school this year. Jeannine talked about the school’s growth (it has advanced from an early school to a full-fledged pre- and elementary school over the past decade), and enhanced presence in the community through the introduction of its “Christians In Action” (CIA) program.

The CIA program started last year in the junior high. An ElMo community member from Honduras proposed a student project to assist the town of Rotan in re-building its community center. ElMo thought it would be an excellent place to inaugurate its CIA program. Last year, the eighth-grade class raised funds to cover travel expenses and additional funds to donate as seed money for the Rotan Community Center. While the students and Jeannine were in Rotan, they completed the first floor of the Community Center and they also donated money to a Rotan 16-year-old student, so he could attend “Captain” school for job training.

The experience proved so rewarding that ElMo is continuing the CIA work in Rotan. This year’s eighth-grade class will go to Rotan to finish renovating the second floor of the Community Center. The first fundraiser to support their trip will be October 5 and is called the “School-Bucks” Coffee fundraiser. The trip to Rotan will take place at the end of May and continue through the first weeks of June 2008.

Locally, CIA will begin an outreach program to the Spanish community. Spanish is taught in grades K through eight at ElMo. The junior high students have been asked to come up with ideas on various things the school can do to help the Spanish community. The eighth graders will assign “jobs” to each of the grades K-7.

In addition to the CIA program, Morgan has hired five new teachers and a new staff member. Ginger Ketzel, ElMo’s fourth-grade teacher for the past 21 years retired in June; she has been replaced by Erin Kredel. Other new teachers include Chelsey Clark and Meehan Dellar for pre-school, Dana Weymouth as the history and physical education teacher for the junior high, and Mary Patterson is set to run the school’s music programs and assist in second grade. Ms Patterson is a Westmont College graduate and her father is Chaplain at Westmont College. The new staff person is Cara Emerson, who manages the Junior High office. Ms Emerson’s family has a long history in Montecito.

Crane Country Day School

Joel Weiss, Head of School for CCDS, has added eight new teachers this year. They are May Coors, Lower School math specialist; Mark Gibson, computer teacher; Molly Green, development associate; Konrad Kono, Lower School music teacher; Sara Lowe, first-grade co-teacher; Lucy Lombardi, Upper School English teacher and girls track coach; Bridget Matson, Kindergarten co-teacher, and Nicole Schon, Upper School English teacher.

Enrollment is up this year, with the largest kindergarten class in the history of Crane School, and a total student population of 249. Thus, the need for increased faculty, as well as for the additional special classes being taught by Mr. Kono and Mr. Gibson. (Ed. note: MJ reported two issues ago that just 12 MUS grads entered SBJHS; parents of MUS seventh-graders overwhelmingly chose to send their children to private schools such as Crane, Laguna Blanca, etc.)

Griffin and (Geoff) Crane Construction are in progress of rebuilding the last of the old classroom buildings on the school campus. Geoff Crane is grandson of the founder of Crane Country Day School. Griffin and Crane were the contractors on the new library and arts centers last year. They are working steadily on the new classroom project, with a late October completion goal. The new building will emulate the exact same style of the other campus buildings and house three new classrooms for grades 1, 2 and 3, and three new offices. The old 500-square-foot classrooms are being replaced by 1200-square-foot classrooms, and have either a patio or ceiling window to bring additional natural light inside.

Head of School Weiss spearheaded a solar panel project at the last school fundraiser, and raised nearly $80,000 to purchase solar panels that are projected to scale down the school’s electric costs. The panels are installed on the Science and Technology Center building, as the roof is directly south-facing and ideal for harnessing solar power.

The school has also initiated various “green” programs. For example, there is a paper reduction project, and a new high-speed industrial dishwasher to “recycle” lunch dishes and tableware has been installed. Joel is confident the dishwasher project will severely reduce the use of disposable plates, tableware, and beverage containers.

And, the biggest news of all: Crane celebrates its 80th birthday in 2008. The school was founded in 1928.