Stories from Sea Crest School

The official blog of Sea Crest School in Half Moon Bay, California.

— President of NAIS on Campus

On Wednesday, 21st March, Sea Crest School was honored to host Donna Orem, the President of The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Sea Crest is one of 1,541 K-12 NAIS-member schools in the USA, serving 675,115 of the nation’s children. Appointed in 2016, Donna Orem is NAIS’ first female President in its 56-year history.

Donna Orem NAIS California Assembly“What a true delight it was to visit your school. Your children are so engaged and self-directed in their learning.”

We began the day with a Coffee Meet and Greet with Faculty, Staff and Trustees, followed by an All-school Assembly and Classroom Tours led by our Middle School Admission Ambassadors: Olivia, Mayah, Mike, and Mimi.

Donna Orem NAIS California“When you ask kids about passions, you normally get very traditional roles. At Sea Crest, I’ve heard students respond with ways to change the world: explorers, scientists […] You are putting good citizens out into the world.”

— Innovation Lab & Design Thinking

Innovation Design ThinkingThe Design and Innovation Program at Sea Crest is building up steam! There are students coming in all day to create a huge range of projects. While they are having a blast creating, it’s important to point out how the program impacts children in the long run.

Many of the jobs that exist today did not exist twenty, ten or even five years ago. If current trends continue, it’s likely that many of our children will go into careers that don’t yet exist and demand a great deal of adaptability.

We can prepare them for this shifting landscape with two essential problem-solving skills: empathy and grit.

Innovation Design ThinkingThese two skills are the backbone of our innovation program and design thinking. Each of the students’ projects begin with a challenge that needs solving. Next, they go through the design process, which consists of four steps: find it (research), sketch it (brainstorming), build it (prototyping), and share it (gathering feedback).

As students go through these steps, they learn to see things from another person’s perspective and to adapt ideas to fix complex problems. Below are some examples of the challenges they are solving:

Kindergarten & 1st Grade
How might we use simple machines? [Experiment with simple machine combinations to solve problems]

Innovation Design Innovation Design Thinking

2nd & 3rd Grade
How might we keep better track of our things in class? [Create custom logo stickers for your things]

Innovation & Design Thinking

4th & 5th Grade
How can we address small inconveniences around the school? [Add plants to the garden area, reduce noise in the locker area, and more]

Innovation Lab Design Thinking Innovation Lab Design Thinking

Middle School
How might we help teachers have more functional classrooms? [Build storage, adjust lighting, add plants, etc.]

Innovation Lab Design Thinking Innovation Lab Design Thinking

How might we give the kindergartners more choice time options? [Build and donate a variety of toys]

Innovation Lab Design Thinking Innovation Lab Design Thinking


Click here to watch a video of Middle-School students testing their toy prototypes with Kindergarteners.

— Life Lessons: Independent schools prepare students for a successful life beyond high school

Article originally published in the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Magazine (Winter 2018) by Amada Torres, vice president for studies, insights, and research at NAIS.

Many independent schools focus on educating the whole child and addressing social/emotional and physical growth as well as academic development. New research conducted by the research firm Gallup shows that this holistic approach to education may result in better long-term outcomes for graduates. A report summarizing the findings, NAIS-Gallup Report on NAIS Graduates: Seeking Critical Collegiate Experiences and Consistent Progression in Higher Education, was published in September 2017.

National Association of Independent Schools Student OutcomesNAIS worked with Gallup for several years to investigate the life outcomes and well-being of graduates of independent schools. Gallup’s analysis found that a higher percentage of NAIS graduates than public school graduates enrolled in college immediately after high school (85 percent of NAIS graduates compared to 69 percent of public school graduates). Nearly 100 percent of graduates from NAIS schools go on to college, with more than half attending the most selective colleges and universities.

Another key finding of the Gallup analysis is that NAIS graduates, including minority and first-generation students (those who were the first in their families to attend college), outpace their peers who graduated from public and non-NAIS private high schools in seeking out many key experiential learning and extracurricular opportunities in college. These differences persist even after accounting for personality type, which can influence students’ propensity to seek out activities in college.

NAIS graduates are more likely to be involved in a wide range of experiential learning and extracurricular activities during college, including participating in research with faculty, holding a leadership position in a club or organization, participating in intramural sports, being members of fraternities or sororities, and working on projects that took longer than a semester. Additional research from Gallup shows that these activities are strongly correlated with higher rates of well-being and workplace engagement later in life.

NAIS graduates’ participation in extracurricular activities and close work with faculty in college seem to be an outgrowth of their high school experiences. These findings are also reflected in the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. This survey collects extensive information from incoming first-year college students about behaviors in high school, interactions with peers and faculty, academic preparedness, and expectations of college, among other variables. The latest CIRP survey found that independent school students (NAIS and non-NAIS) expected to be more engaged than their counterparts in a number of extracurricular activities in college, including participating in student clubs or groups (57.1 percent versus 49.7 percent for public school students), recreational sports (35.4 percent versus 29 percent), and fraternities or sororities (21.8 percent versus 12.8 percent).

The extensive participation of NAIS graduates in collegiate activities represents a significant result given the long-lasting impact these activities have. Previous Gallup research revealed that alumni who were extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations in college were 1.6 times more likely to be engaged at work and 1.2 times more likely to be thriving in all five elements of well-being measured by Gallup (See “How Does Gallup Measure Well-Being?” following the article). Likewise, graduates who worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete were 1.7 times more likely to be engaged at work and 1.2 times more likely to be thriving in all five elements of well-being.

National Association of Independent Schools Student Outcomes

Gallup also found that NAIS graduates progress through college more consistently than their peers from other private and public schools. Seventy-seven percent of NAIS graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in four years or less, compared with 69 percent of non-NAIS private high school graduates and 64 percent of public high school graduates. Similarly, 22 percent of NAIS graduates transferred at some point during their undergraduate careers—a much lower rate than the 37 percent of public high school graduates and 31 percent of non-NAIS private high school graduates who transferred. These results were also true for minority and first-generation students graduating from NAIS schools.

These findings suggest that NAIS graduates enter their collegiate lives at a relative advantage over their peers from other types of schools and the benefits persist. Consistent progression through college is linked to financial advantages such as lower student debt and higher starting salaries. In addition to these financial benefits, Gallup found that NAIS graduates who completed their college degrees in four years or less and did not transfer during college are more likely to be interested in the work they do.

Overall, Gallup found that the student experience at NAIS schools is associated with important undergraduate opportunities which, in turn, relate to elevated levels of well-being and long-term career satisfaction. The NAIS experience helps position students well as they transition into college, setting them up favorably for lives of purpose and meaning.


— Celebrating Earth Day on the Coast

In honor of Earth Day on April 21st, our entire K-8 school community spent two weeks learning about our beautiful coastal environment.

We kicked off our learning on Tuesday, April 10th, with a special all-school assembly from the Pacifica Beach Coalition entitled Sea Stars, Sea Change.

Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day

On Wednesday, April 11th, students in grades 2-4 explored the fascinating world of sharks with a visit from the Greater Farallones Association Sharkmobile and shark expert, Peter Winch.

The second week, students in grades 5-8 explored the biology of pathogens and how they impact marine mammals in the Greater Farallones Association Germs in Our Waters, Infecting our Otters workshop.

Each grade level engaged in a unit of inquiry on one aspect of our amazing coastal environment. On Friday, April 20th, classes shared what they have learned with students in other grades during our Coastweeks Learning Celebration.

Learning more about our amazing coastal environment helps to inspire a spirit of responsibility and stewardship for all. We encouraged all students and families to cap off the Sea Crest Coastweeks experience by participating in one of the local beach clean-up events planned throughout the coast.

Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastal Environment, Ocean Week Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastweek, Environment, Ocean, Earth Day Coastal Environment, Ocean Week

— Physics of Motion: Egg-Drop Science Project

Egg Drop Science Project Experiential LearningThe Eight Graders concluded their unit on the physics of motion with an egg-drop project. Working in teams, the students worked to create boxes that would keep an egg intact through a fall onto a hard surface.

Egg Drop Science Project Experiential LearningThey designed, created and tested different arrangements fashioned out of a variety materials over successively higher drops. At the same time, they worked on calculations based on work earlier in the unit to determine the velocity, acceleration, and forces acting on the box and the egg.

Egg Drop Science Project Experiential LearningOn the final day, the Eighth Grade moved to the gym, where Mr. Geller was kind enough to operate the lift to drop egg boxes from greater and greater heights until there was only one unbroken egg remaining.

Congratulations to India Polacek, Mikalee Mauricio, and Marco Yaque, as well as to Jakob Gates, Oscar Hernandez and Matthew Spink. These two teams designed boxes that survived a 6-meter drop!

Egg Drop Science Project Experiential LearningSpecial congratulations to the egg-drop champions: Beech Basler and Conor O’Quigley, who created a box that kept the egg unbroken through the highest drop – 8 meters!


— Head of School appointed to NAIS Board of Trustees

Dear Sea Crest Families,

I am excited to have the opportunity to share the great news with you: Our Head of School, Dr. Tekakwitha Pernambuco-Wise, was recently appointed by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to their Board of Trustees. NAIS is the national voice of independent education, advocating on behalf of its members. The association offers research and trend analysis, leadership and governance guidance, and professional development opportunities for school and board leaders. Sea Crest School is one of the 1500+ members of NAIS, which is a major source of industry information and professional development not only for school staff and leaders but also our Board of Trustees.

The NAIS Board of Trustees, made up of 20 distinguished individuals, includes thought leaders, independent school pioneers and innovators in the field of education. This prestigious appointment is a testament to the visionary leadership Tekakwitha has brought to Sea Crest School. Tekakwitha truly lives by Sea Crest’s Guiding Principles and has shared with me that she is looking forward to giving back to NAIS, an organization that provides so much support to our school. We look forward to the insights and ideas Tekakwitha is sure to bring back from her work on the NAIS Board.

Please join me in congratulating Tekakwitha!

Amy Ramsey
Chair, Sea Crest Board of Trustees


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Sea Crest School is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and all other operations. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, citizenship, national or ethnic origin gender, sexual orientation, or gender identification in the administration of our educational policies, admission policies, tuition assistance programs and athletic or other school-administered programs. © 2018 SEA CREST SCHOOL
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