A Message from the Director

Cathy LaTorre

“Two things cannot be in one place.
Where you tend a rose, my lad,
A thistle cannot grow.”
From the Secret Garden, By Francis Hodgson Burnett

A lifelong passion for children and education, coupled with a mothers instinct to be with her children is what led me to the Secret Garden. My journey was filled with opportunities to develop and share my commitment to childcare. I first came to Santa Cruz in 1981 after accepting a position as director of the local chapter of the Santa Cruz Special Olympics. After having my two sons, Tyler and Garret, in 1983 and 1984 (yes, you can get pregnant breast feeding), I felt compelled to have them with me while still contributing to the household income. It was during this time that I turned to my degree in early childhood education. I became a teacher at the Secret Garden, initially owned by Sylvia Gerbl, where I was able to work full time and could have both boys with me. After dedicating ten years to the program, I made the leap to purchase the school in 1995. I truly believed in the the excellent curriculum and high standards initially developed by Sylvia in 1977. I chose to carry on her philosophy that the healthiest way for a child to be nurtured and cared for is to let them be a child. More than 30 years later, I am proud to say we are still providing a rich environment where children can grow in a loving a safe environment.

The Secret Garden Too Infant Center and Preschool is dedicated to the rightness of childhood.

We will read the best of children’s literature
That it may speak to the inner child.

We will explore the wonder of the world.

We will explore and develop language skills, motor skills, motor skills, and thinking processes.

We will play and make sense of the world around us.

We will create.

We will celebrate!

We will love and accept one another.

Cathy Latorre

Monthly Newsletter – February 2018

One red Valentine,
Two red Valentines,
Three red Valentines,
Four… we’ll cut and cut and cut and cut,
Then make 20 more”!


February is a sweet month here at school. We begin the month with “Ground Hog’s Day”. Will we have 6 more weeks of winter? We’re so happy for some rain. We have 2 new raised beds to fill with veggies. We finish with Ground Hogs Day and begin with our celebrations of love. We have so many examples of love and friendship around us. We read love stories, sing friendship songs and create sweet projects. We even give Valentines to the birds around school. The gardens will be tended. Children will learn more about our wonderful earth. You may want to pack extra pants and shirts in their cubbies. We tend to get pretty grubby.

Preschoolers are invited to bring Valentines to share with others beginning on Wed, February 7th. We have 30 children in our preschool program. Each child will make a Valentine mailbox from a paper bag. We then have a circle each day. It makes the giving a little more special and it keeps the actual day a little less crazy. If you would like your child to participate in this fun activity, please provide them with 30 Valentines with only their name on it. No candy please, not everyone is allowed candy and some have diet restrictions. Homemade or store bought…it’s all just fun! Please bring them all at one time. One day, one trip around the circle to pass them out. Your child’s teacher can give you more information if needed.

We’ll do a quick unit on Presidents Day. We talk about serving others on a scale they can understand. We are closed Monday the 19th.

For those families that have kids heading to kindergarten in the fall, please remember that they really don’t have a sense of time. Preparing them now for the big transition can create a huge amount of stress. I would suggest telling them only a few weeks before and maybe taking time to visit the school of choice before the big day.

The decision to send your child on the kindergarten is always tough. I would be happy to discuss the rational for sending and holding your child back from starting their formal education. There are developmental milestones as well as maturation issues to consider.

If you have any schedule changes coming up for your child you need to let us know as soon as possible. We require a 30 day notice but if you know that your child will be moving on this summer it’s great to let us know. We will move toddlers up. If your child is staying through summer, that is very helpful information. Please give Lauren your summer schedule before March 1st.

Thanks for your cooperation in the matter.

Thank you for trusting us to take care of your precious children while you’re away from them! Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and we look forward to Spring!!





We are closed on Monday, February 19th President’s Day

Please post the following calendar in a place you can refer to easily. It will give you a topic to discus your children’s daily routine while their at school.

Feb 1-2               Ground Hog’s Day

Feb 5-14th          Valentine’s Day fun! We hand out valentines this week so those who do not attend on the 14th do not miss a thing!

Feb 15-16th         President’s Day unit

Feb 16th              Chinese New Year Year of the Dog

Feb 20-28th         Growing up, up, and up!