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Terra Nova

The Terra Nova Program is an intervention program designed to help students with high academic potential that might need added support during the school day to reach that potential. The program is for 10th and 11th grade students at Cupertino High School.

Students start in the Terra Nova Program their 10th grade year. During that school year, the students take three classes in the program with their Terra Nova classmates. The three classes include World Literature (WL), World History (WH), and Terra Nova Life Skills. All sophomores at Cupertino High School take World Core, which consists of the WL and WH courses. The Terra Nova World Core classes follow the same curriculum and have the same assessments as all sophomores.

During the students’ 11th grade school year, they take two Terra Nova classes: (1) Terra Nova American Literature and (2) 11th Grade Terra Nova Life Skills. The students exit the program after their junior year. Hopefully, the students feel comfortable and confident going into their senior year after their two years in the program because they will have taken advantage of the various supports the program offers.

Staff Directory

Geoff Wright (408) 366-7376 Assistant Principal
Monique Ronalter (408) 366-7388 ex.4922 Terra Nova Team Lead/Teacher, World Lit. 10 & Life Skills 11
Gregg Buie (408) 366-7328 Guidance Counselor
Denise Salin (408) 366-7329 Student Advocate & Counseling Support
Kimberlee Morgan (408) 366-7388 ex.4896 Teacher, World History 10
Ashley Hooper (408) 366-7388 ex.4818 Teacher, American Literature 11
Jessica Schaetzke (408) 366-7388 ex.4839 Teacher, Life Skills 10


Where is the Terra Nova program located?

The program is located on the Cupertino High School campus.

Can I come in for a visit?

Absolutely. Students and parents are encouraged to visit and observe Terra Nova classes and ask questions to both teachers and administrators. Please contact the Terra Nova assistant principal at Cupertino High School to schedule a visit by calling 408-366-7380.

Do I qualify?

You must:

  • Be in 10th or 11th grade
  • Have struggled in school academically this year
  • Have a strong desire to make a change.

You may:

  • Have struggled with social, emotional, or family issues

Can I still go to college if I’m in Terra Nova?

Yes. Terra Nova students receive the SAME college preparatory credit for their classes as any other student at Cupertino High School.

Will I be labeled?

No. Many people who you know are in Terra Nova.

Who teaches the program?

Dedicated Cupertino High School teachers teach all of the Terra Nova classes.

Will the program affect my class schedule?

Students in the program will receive priority scheduling to accommodate for Terra Nova academic classes.

Are the Terra Nova classes harder or easier than equivalent classes?

This depends on your motivation to learn. But you will be glad to know that Terra Nova classes meet the same standards as “regular” classes by working “smarter” not “harder.”

I'm Interested - What do I do next?

  1. Discuss the program with your family
  2. Contact your school’s assistant principal
  3. Call 408-366-7380 to make an appointment for an interview
  4. Attend the interview (both parent and student) at Cupertino High School

Terra Nova's Four Major Systems of Support

Smaller Class Sizes

The student to teacher ratio is typically 20 to 1, compared to 32 to 1 in the World Core classes. This means more teacher-to-student interaction.

Terra Nova Life Skills

Students take this elective course to help them succeed academically. The class is built into the students’ schedules so that they have time to learn study skills and complete homework for all of their academic classes. If the students use their time wisely, they often leave this class with much less homework than they had at the start of the school day. Students can ask for help from peer tutors during this class to help them in their math and science courses, which is another bonus. Additionally, there is some curriculum built in to help the students organizationally, socially and emotionally.

Counseling Support from a Student Advocate

Counseling support is led by the Terra Nova student advocate, Denise Salin, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT). Students choose to meet with Denise for counseling support as little or as often as they want and/or need. During this counseling, students learn effective ways to listen, problem solve and support their peers. They discuss common topics and challenges that teenagers face such as stress management, conflict management, time management and more.

Cohort Studying, Learning and Bonding

Since the students in the program have a smaller class size and two or three classes with this small cohort of students, they build a strong familial-like bond with their peers. This is one of the most unique and impactful components of the program; the students learn to rely on, support and empower each other.