Vallejo Charter School – A School Worthy of its Children

OVERVIEW

Collective Invention created a portrait of Vallejo Charter School in its fifth year of operation drawn from observations in the classroom, campus activities, interviews and workshops with students, families, administrators, and teachers.

CHALLENGE

To hear some of the fourth and fifth-graders talk about it, Vallejo Charter School began at the Farmer’s Market. They remember being there among the fruit and vegetable vendors as their family and friends canvassed for signatures, advocating for a special school for the children of Vallejo. For them, VCS is a symbol of adults’ dedication to their well-being and proof that it’s possible, through cooperation and commitment, to make good things happen in the world.

Those passionate adults successfully petitioned the State Administrator of Vallejo Unified School District to create Vallejo Charter School, based on the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound model, in 2007. Their mission, and their vision for Vallejo children, was:

“… to implement…an innovative, research-based curriculum to prepare students in the Greater Vallejo area in grades K–8 to become educated people of the 21st century. Such individuals are literate, knowledgeable, principled, competent, self-motivated and committed to lifelong learning. (VCS) students will be stewards of the earth and its resources; they will be environmentally aware and understand the interconnectedness of all living things and our global environment.”

Since that time VCS has drawn hundreds of students and their families to a thriving school community which has already succeeded in some important ways while being challenged in others, evolving and growing as a result

APPROACH

Over the course of our study, which took place from January through March 2011, we interviewed dozens of family members, students from every grade level, and nearly the entire teaching faculty. We spoke at length with the principal and with members of the Charter Council and attendees at the Vallejo Charter School Community Forum and other meetings.

OUTCOMES

The resulting document is an overview of the ways that Vallejo Charter School developed, both culturally and pedagogically, as an emerging model of K–8 education.

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