Michele Delibert, a math teacher at Sequoia High School in Watsonville, takes the phrase “goes above and beyond” to the next level. On an unusually cold day in May, a group of Sequoia students sat in the Wellness Center at the school and discussed their admiration of their teacher and the Sequoia Schools program. Eagerly, the students began talking about the extracurricular events their teacher arranges and encourages the students to attend.
While Math is Michele’s area of expertise, she firmly believes students deserve the opportunity to participate in a myriad of opportunities, like the arts. Annually, Michele arranges a trip to the symphony at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. The students, Xochilt, Yvette, Miranda, Lea, Coco, and Jennifer, discussed how fun the evening was. The group particularly enjoyed experiencing new music at the event and the community building that naturally happened on the trip. Before the symphony, the students and Michele went out for dinner and afterward they enjoyed ice cream. All of the students explained how this event brought them closer together and that although they all got along before, it was their time together on this outing that turned them into friends. With the success of the symphony field trip, Michele has expanded outings to plays at local high schools and events such as the Queer Youth Leadership Awards.
Inside the classroom, Michele is committed to bringing engaging math curriculum and instruction to her students. The students discussed how Michele creates fun projects that get them involved in math and how she breaks the concepts down and makes math interesting. All the students agreed that they feel more confident with math now and know they are learning. When the students need extra help, Michele stays after school and won’t give up. Aside from math, Michele also tracks their success in all classes and also helps them reach goals outside of school like getting an internship or taking guitar lessons.
When talking about Sequoia Schools, the students overwhelmingly described it as a welcoming learning community where all of the staff care and support the needs of every student. The smiles, laughter, and sincere appreciation of the program was expressed through the words of these students. Whether it is learning history through music, studying brain science, math projects, or the internships, and extracurricular events organized by the school, the students are genuinely learning and playing an active role in their education.
Despite the unusually wet and cold May weather, the students were excited about the next journey they were about to embark upon with their fellow classmates and teacher Michele, a backpacking trip through Big Sur. We are incredibly hopeful and excited for the students of Sequoia Schools and grateful for the dedication of the staff.
The Sequoia Schools campus is the newest alternative education site operated by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. The school opened its doors for the first time for the 2016-2017 school year and the stunning two-story building houses multiple programs designed to suit the needs of all learners.