As PCS approaches our 20th anniversary next year, this year’s BASH celebrated a milestone for one of the school’s key early supporters, Michael Watkins. Watkins, the Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools since his election in 2006, has announced his retirement at the end of 2018. The 2018 BASH theme, Education Mavericks: A Bold Legacy, was chosen to honor Mr. Watkins for his distinguished career in education. Approximately 260 guests, including representatives from the County Office of Education and local government, attended the event on March 3 at the Cocoanut Grove Ball Room.
PCS Board President Tom Morell kicked off a fifteen-minute tribute, linking Watkins’ visionary leadership to PCS’ growth and success. “Like the founders and first teachers of PCS, Michael has demonstrated a willingness to take bold risks toward results that have exceeded expectations,” adding, “Michael's early support of PCS - an unconventional charter school with a unique academic mission - was critical to our success.” Mr. Morell also thanked Mr. Watkins for providing constructive criticism to PCS over the years. “His suggestions and guidance have made PCS a better school, more responsive to our community and a better learning environment for our students.”
Two past PCS Board of Directors Presidents, Pete Rode and Connie Smith, also thanked Mr. Watkins for his service and support. Video clips by local school and government leaders, Watkins’ colleagues at the County Office of Education, and Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, acknowledged Mr. Watkins’ dedicated and passionate support for all children in Santa Cruz County. Mr. Watkins daughter, Martine Watkins, the current Vice Mayor of Santa Cruz, spoke about her father’s contributions to the community and his inspiring model of public service.
In his remarks following the tribute, Mr. Watkins spoke about his commitment to children and students in Santa Cruz County, acknowledging PCS as providing a vital service to junior and senior high school students. Mr. Watkins holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology, Life-Time Teaching Credentials in secondary and special education, and a Masters in School Administration. His work with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education began when he assumed the position of Learning Handicapped Program Specialist, later becoming the Director of Special Education.
A engraved crystal award and a donation to Mr. Watkins favorite local charity, SPIN, were presented to Mr. Watkins by PCS Principal Simon Fletcher and 8th grade PCS student, JoJo Webber.
Mr. Watkins thanked the audience, PCS Board and administration for one of the first pre-retirement tributes he has received, adding, “Please let the PCS community know how grateful I am for their thoughtful acknowledgement.”