Director and Teacher
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 responsibility, he is extremely honored to have been entrusted by the school’s founders to take over as the school’s director this year.
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.
Kindergarten and First Grade Teacher
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 has also recently created the class LoST (also known as 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.
Adriana Villalon has been with Santa Cruz Children’s School since 2014. She is the primary teacher, covering the core subjects of Language Arts and Mathematics, for the 2nd youngest group of students. She also 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.
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.
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.
Teacher (Math, Art, and Science)
Nicole joined the SCCS family in 2017 and brought with her a wealth of experience, creativity, and enthusiasm for teaching. With over 10 years of elementary classroom experience, a masters in education, and an experienced homeschool instructor she can (and has!) designed quality, individualized curriculum for just about any subject. This year she’s using her skills to design and implement the math curriculum for the 3rd through 6th graders. She also teaches art and has brought her passion for innovation to her new STEAM class to the entire school.
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, though 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 her toddler, Owen, and is very excited (and a little nervous) for the day he starts Kindergarten at Santa Cruz Children’s School.
Dan Hoppenfeld & Adele Gardner
Adele Gardner and Dan Hoppenfeld founded Santa Cruz Children’s School in 1993. Together they helped created a culture of kindness where children are safe to learn and grow, make friends, and challenge themselves creatively and intellectually that continues to this day. They have created a foundation of success for many students who have gone on to higher education in some of the country’s most prestigious universities. Students have become dancers, lawyers, writers, scientists, economists. and engineers. Their goal is that each student leaves Santa Cruz Children’s School competent, confident and able to create a life that will use their creativity, intellect, and passion to make the world a better place. After 22 first days of school, Dan and Adele handed over the reins to Deric and Joanna McLean in 2015.
Before creating Santa Cruz Children’s School Dan taught in the Pajaro District in Santa Cruz County. and Adele Gardner taught in the Live Oak School District where she was a master teacher for Students at UCSC as well as the mentor teacher for Language Arts.