By Kristen Rivers, Academic Support Specialist
Being around Lauren is like getting a life force energy infusion directly from the sun; her grounded energy beams at you through her clear blue eyes, filling you with her passion!
Lauren is eager to connect her students with real world learning and skills to bring history alive. Her colleagues are grateful that PCS landed such a passionate and committed young educator to our middle school team. With her newly wedded bride, Diana (PCS 2008), and her two dogs, Oliver and Henry, by her side, she has brought her commitment to social justice and equity to our halls.
Armed with a Master’s degree and teaching credential from Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, she returned with Diana to Santa Cruz with the intention of beginning her career in education. The fact that PCS was hiring made it all feel “full circle,” she says. “We fell in love in Aptos (at Sand Rock Farm) and my wife is not only from here, but a graduate of PCS! I am now colleagues with some of her favorite teachers, so to make this our home now, just feels right.”
According to Lauren, her emphasis on social and emotional intelligence and mental health and wellness is the key to her success. With over a dozen years as a swim coach and substitute teacher, including time as a Master Coach at UC Berkeley, she exudes experience and confidence. When asked about her source of strength she doesn’t hesitate to respond that it is the ability to empathize that sets her apart with adolescents and makes her somewhat of a “kid whisperer.” Walk by her room or drop into her class and you will find kids engaged and relaxed, with kids working in small groups or getting comfortable on the floor while completing work. Lauren is not a “lecture and hand out” kind of teacher; she develops engaging lessons that help students feel a part of history, not just witnesses.
It was a long-term substitute position at Gateway Elementary School in Santa Cruz that sealed her decision to become a teacher. In fact, you may hear some PCS students refer to her as “'Savage Lauren,''' a name they gave her to honor her tireless spirit and "go getter" attitude when she was their teacher at Gateway.
When not working long hours developing her curriculum, she and Diana can be found with the dogs in the woods or water, enjoying the outdoors and nature, swimming at the Cabrillo pool, or dreaming of their next travel adventure. A professional goal is to build on her partial Ecuadorian background and rudimentary Spanish language skills to become biliterate and fluent in order to better serve students.
With so many wonderful connections to Santa Cruz and such a clear vision, Lauren is a great asset to PCS; how fortunate we are!