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SCG's Top Ten

The top ten reasons students love being a part of Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School.

10. Inclusive Learning Environment - Students love coming to Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary in part because they feel welcomed and feel they are part of this learning community. The educators, parents, and support staff at SCG support and guide each student toward being their best selves as they grow into more kind, responsible and confident human beings. The peers each student is surrounded by, reinforce what is being modeled for them by practicing what it means to be a great human being.


Photo: Empowered students being themselves

9. Home & School Club - Our supportive team of parents play a vital role in bringing our learning community together. Events like the Fall Festival and Family Game Night create space outside of the school day to make new friends and fundraise so our school can offer unique learning experiences to every child.

Learn more at the HSC homepage.


Photo: Back to School Party

8. Integrated Social Emotional Learning (SEL) - With the guidance of our team of educators and school counselor, our students develop the skills they need to navigate the complex world we live in by taking part in regular class discussions using the RULER, Character Strong and Second Step curricula which focuses on navigating conflicts, developing healthy friendships, and managing emotions. Classes practice daily mindfulness using programs like Inner Explorer and


Photo: Practicing healthy and supportive relationships across grade levels.

7. Student Leadership - Our students have the opportunity to directly impact their learning environment by joining student led teams like the Green Team and Peace Pals to reduce and manage our trash around campus and help younger students navigate interactions on the playground respectively. Our Student Leadership team is a platform for student voice, equity, and building culture at SCG.


Photo: The Green Team teaches their peers how to propagate plants from cuttings.

6. Community Partnerships - SCG is deeply connected with our greater learning community through partnerships that range from community service opportunities around the county to annual visits by local experts in a wide range of fields of study. Students love these science and nature-based field trips because they are unique to each grade level. Partnerships with local nonprofits and organizations offer unique science, engineering, and nature-based explorations that allow students to experience professions they may not know exist.


Photo: Harvest Season while visiting the Life Lab Farm at UCSC.

5. High Engagement Enrichment Opportunities - Funded by our Home and School Club, our students enjoy unique opportunities like Running Club, Coding Club, Cooking Club, and Rubik’s Cube Club to build skills and make new friends.


Photo: Students of the Rubik’s Cube Club practicing algorithm patterns together.

4. Cross Grade Level Collaboration - Whether it is meeting for our weekly whole school community lunch or meeting with buddy class for a reading party, students love each opportunity to collaborate across grade levels to strengthen their community. These regular opportunities for our upper grade students help to develop leadership skills while passing on the traditions and knowledge to the next generation of SCG students, creating a cyclical community building environment.


Photo: “Big Buddy” sharing observation strategies with “Little Buddy” while nature journaling.

3. Learning Outside - A central focus at SCG is learning outside the four walls of a traditional classroom. Several outdoor learning spaces like the 4,000 sq.ft. SAGE Garden, Chaminade Trail System, and dedicated outdoor classrooms have been created by students to strengthen their connection with nature. These spaces offer moments for mindful walks, space to learn about the specific plants, and opportunities to gather observations of local phenomena in their nature journals, a regular practice at SCG.


Photo: Students nature journaling on a walking field trip to the Chaminade Trails.

2. Project Based Learning - Our PBL trained educators guide classes through real world problems involving multiple subjects and create student-led solutions through collaborative learning experiences using the Project-Based Learning model.


Photo: Fifth grade students planting the SAGE Garden in spring 2022.

1. The Living Classroom - It is no surprise that this is the number one choice for the students of SCG. Kids love getting their hands in the soil as they explore multi-week investigations centered on the Next Generation Science Standards in our 1,300 sq. ft. edible garden. Students are guided weekly by our Life Lab trained garden coordinator as they develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be Stewards of the Earth through a deeper understanding of the natural phenomena that exist all around them.


Photo: Students gathering data in The Living Classroom.

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