TLC NEWSLETTER November 2021

November Highlights

  • It is the season of giving - and our students are definitely giving back! Thank you to all who donated socks as part of Socktober -- together we collected 838 pairs! You can read more about Socktober below, along with highlights of students who are helping us all to give back as a community.
  • Special thanks to the SSC volunteers from each site who helped lead Socktober: Alina Contreras, student from Chula Vista, Sierra Weinberg, parent from La Mesa, and Angela Parsons, parent from San Diego.
Students helping to collect Socktober donations
  • This November we celebrate National Native American Heritage Month. Teachers and parents can learn more about how to educate themselves and their students about the diverse histories, cultures, and contributions of California Native peoples through Native Ways of Knowing micro-courses. The material was created by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and California Indian Education for All as a way for educators and leaders to learn from Native American educational, cultural, and tribal experts. Visit the program website to learn more, register for the November courses, and view upcoming offerings.
  • We love being able to take field trips again! This month families visited the San Diego Maritime Museum and took a pilot boat tour of the bay.
Family field trip fun

TLC's School & College Counselor

Samantha Peterson

To conclude the introductions of our Counseling & Psychologists team, our final feature is of Samantha Peterson, TLC's School & College Counselor.

Samantha Peterson has been with TLC for six years now. Her background includes such highlights as time at Los Angeles Unified School District, where she helped first-generation students matriculate to universities and ran a College & Career Center that helped ambitious students earn over $250K in scholarships. After 5 years at LAUSD, Samantha moved to sunny San Diego and began working with TLC as our school counselor/college counselor.

Outside of work, you can find Ms. Peterson practicing yoga, hiking, biking, rollerblading, reading, and spending quality time with friends and family.

How Samantha can help: Samantha can help students with college & career exploration, scholarships, financial aid, applying to colleges and universities, writing college essays, registering for college entrance exams (PSAT, SAT, ACT), support with registration to take college classes while enrolled in high school, and ensuring students are on track with graduation, academics, community service, and so much more. She also brings in guest speakers, college admission representatives, and takes students on college tours. Let her know if there is a university you would like to visit!

How to contact Samantha: Students and families can contact Samantha via email (samantha.peterson@learningchoice.org), phone (619-463-8811 ext.183), or when you see her on campus. She works at all sites and students are welcome to stop by during her office hours.

You can schedule an individual meeting with Ms. Peterson, or see her at one of the presentations she facilitates throughout the year.

College Planning

Students attending one of Ms. Peterson's workshops

As part of supporting students as they prepare for college and career, Ms. Peterson ran a series of Financial Aid Workshops this month addressing how to finance college and opportunities for loans and scholarships, including FAFSA. Don't forget to contact Ms. Peterson for support with financial aid and scholarship applications!

For those who were not able to attend the workshops, here are some reminders about what you need to do to apply for financial aid and scholarship money:

1. Fill out your FAFSA form - The FAFSA form is the federal government financial aid form. To receive need-based grants or scholarships (from the government or your college!), you’ll need to fill it out. Just by filling out the FAFSA, the average student gets about $15,000 in financial aid (grants, work-study, and lower-interest loans). Stressed out by the government form? You can instead complete it on Going Merry using their FAFSA® Made Easier form. Just sign up here.

2. Check with your colleges on any additional forms - Some colleges (especially private ones) also require a form called the “CSS Profile,” while other colleges have their own financial aid forms, in addition to the FAFSA. Make sure you find out what the deadline is to fill out those extra forms.

3. Check for state grants/aid eligibility - State governments also offer a range of state grants, particularly for students studying in-state at a public university or college. Check for these too!

4. Apply for external scholarships - These are scholarships funded by companies or non-profits, and there are a lot of deadlines in November-February, so make sure you’re looking for them now. To find and apply for scholarships, Ms. Peterson recommends you sign up for Going Merry.

Another round of financial aid workshops & career exploration will continue next month so keep your eyes peeled for the ParentSquare post.

Need Money for College? Make sure to see Ms. Peterson for help!

With the season of giving and gratitude upon us, we have been blown away by the examples our students have been setting when it comes to giving back. We have seen numerous students of late spearhead their own initiatives to contribute to causes greater than themselves. Our students continue to amaze -- and inspire -- us. Below are a few highlights of our impressive students in service to the causes they care about.


Thank you to everyone who donated socks as part of Socktober! Thanks to you, TLC collected 838 pairs of socks as part of this collection drive! These socks were distributed to people experiencing homelessness through the local non-profit Streets of Hope. Special acknowledgement goes to Alina Contreras, 11th grader at TLC Chula Vista, who helped to lead this event for the Chula Vista site, and who distributed the socks herself in Downtown San Diego.

As Alina describes,

I know it is hard to provide a living, especially in California. Not all of us have enough money to keep us warm and comfortable in our homes. And although we can’t always do much, small things can go a long way. All the pairs of socks we donated will keep so many people including kiddos warm this holiday season. Not only that but they were able to eat some pie and sandwiches. I think it’s safe to say we were able to make their night a little magical. To us socks might be something so small and simple, but for them, it makes them feel love and remember. Makes them feel like someone out there still cares about them. I am a part of the United States Air Force cadets, and we have a saying, 'leave no man behind.' It’s not our job to judge why or how they became homeless but as people it is our job to show kindness in such a dark world.
Alina distributing socks in downtown San Diego

The end of November marks the end of Homeless Awareness Month, but not the end of this issue with the number of people experiencing homelessness in San Diego nearly doubling last year. For more information, you can visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness website. For information and resources about how to volunteer and support locally, please see the Streets of Hope website.

Thank you again to Alina and the SSC members for helping to bring attention to this important issue.

Bulletin Board with a Purpose

As part of creating a vibrant campus, TLC La Mesa has been working on installing bulletin boards around school to both beautify the buildings and display student work and information. One TLC student, 11th grader Jada Levorsen, took this idea and ran with it as a way to promote her passion and help the environment.

During Jada’s community service in the front office, she was tasked with creating a visual display about something she was passionate about, with a focus on how TLC community members could contribute. She chose to create a board featuring how our community can help the environment. Her hope is that this bulletin board will inform people about proper disposal and empower and inspire others to do their part to help our planet. As Jada explained,

I've always cared about animals and the environment since I was younger. Then as I got older I enjoyed learning more about them and taking care of them so I could do my part.
Jada's initial design

The bulletin board will stay up through the end of January, while collection bins for batteries and recycling bins will remain in the front office and around campus through the rest of the school year. If you are interested in creating a bulletin board for your site, contact your Office Manager.

We’re so proud of Jada for following her passion and taking initiative to contribute to a cause greater than herself - students like her inspire all of us to be the change we wish to see in the world!

Jada next to her Environment Bulletin Board

For those of you who don't have the chance to walk by Jada's bulletin board, here is a sharable summary of ways you and your family can help the environment.

Source: The National Ocean Service

Food Drive

Another TLC La Mesa student, Mason Taylor (11th grade), was also recently motivated to make a difference -- this time to help eliminate hunger.

Mason was inspired to organize a food drive because he wanted to make a difference in his community.

The reason I decided to plan a food drive was because it was a way for me to help families in need. Every year, about 40% of food is thrown away in the United States and it is enough to provide about 58 billion meals. I also found out about 38 million individuals suffer from hunger in the United States alone. This inspired me to take advantage of the available resources I have and start the canned food drive and do my part to help make a difference in my community.”

Anyone can support and take part in the canned food drive by bringing donations to the collection bin in their front office. All of the donations must be sealed and a list of the most needed requests can be found on the flyers put up around the campus (also listed below).

Donations will be accepted from November 29 to December 16 at each school site. The bins will be collected on Dec 16 and taken to the San Diego Food Bank. By donating a single can, you can help provide a meal for a family in need and do your part to help end hunger.

To help raise awareness about why initiatives like Mason's food drive are so important, here is some information on hunger within our local community, provided by the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and the North County Food Bank:

Hunger and Poverty in San Diego County:

  • Of San Diego County’s 3.2 million residents, 450,000 people face food insecurity.
  • Of this number, 177,000 are children.
  • Food insecurity means that little or no food is available at home, and those who are food insecure do not know how they will get their next meal.
  • Currently, 1 in 7 adults, and 1 in 5 children face food insecurity in San Diego County.
  • (Source: San Diego Hunger Coalition, 2019)

What the San Diego Food Bank Does:

  • The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and the North County Food Bank chapter feed 350,000 people every month in partnership with 500 nonprofit community partners that operate feeding programs.
  • Due to our region’s high cost of living, tens of thousands of low-income families, including low-income military families, and fixed-income seniors rely on the Food Bank to put food on the table.
  • Of the 350,000 people the Food Bank serves monthly, 39,000 are low-income military personnel and their dependents; 10,000 are fixed-income seniors; 76,000 live at or near the poverty level and receive assistance through the Emergency Food Assistance Program; and 2,800 are elementary school children living in poverty who receive weekend backpacks full of food through the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program in 14 San Diego County school districts.

Most Needed Food Items:

  • Canned meats & tuna
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned soups
  • Canned fruits, vegetables & beans
  • Spaghetti
  • Cereal
  • Rice
  • Mac & cheese

More Food for Thought

A focus on health through the foods we eat is another important issue. There are many healthy recipes that can be easily put together with ingredients often featured in our school lunch program. This month we are highlighting a hearty salad recipe for tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a Lebanese dish originating from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. It remains Lebanon's national dish today, and has also gained in popularity throughout the Middle East and the world.

This recipe utilizes cucumber as an addition to the traditional tabbouleh recipe.

For more veggie and fruit inspired recipes from around the world, check out this great handout from Cooking Matters.

Spread the Word

In order to empower you to share information about TLC, we created this Parent Outreach Tool Kit. This document provides sharing strategies as well as videos and collateral materials. It also contains a link to a google doc so you can keep us informed about your efforts. You are our greatest spokespeople and we appreciate you getting the word out about TLC!

STAR Student Recognitions

November: Responsibility

TLC recognizes STAR students each month based on a determined character trait. November's character trait was Responsibility. Students are nominated by their Educational Partners and School Site Administrators. Congratulations to this month's STAR students!

Alexandra Arvizu

Bella-Lucia Baker

Tony Bradley

Noah Davis

Alexandra Edelman

Olivia Esparza

Arielle Fausto

Kislev Herrera Franco

Leilani Lavitoria

Isabella Merana

Princess Mihas

Rachelle Portillo-Nevarez

Emmett Roberts

Shane Roberts

Emma Weaver

Anneka Weinberg

Charlotte Willick

This month's staff recognitions for Responsibility are:

Rhonda Dulay

Delilah Nichols

Gloria Pena

Heather Rhoads

Your Support Goes A Long Way

As a public charter school, TLC relies on public funds to deliver all of our educational programming. To help us go above and beyond, we are grateful for donations of any amount. We will run specific campaigns throughout the school year, and also welcome donations at any time. You can make a general donation here. You can also direct a donation to a specific school site or initiative. Thank you in advance for your support!


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