New enrichment program, kinder openings at Creekside Charter in Tahoe City |

New enrichment program, kinder openings at Creekside Charter in Tahoe City

Renee Koijane
Special to the Sun
Creekside students spend some enrichment time in the Rideout Community Garden.
Courtesy photo |

Steeped in 14 years of tradition, Creekside Charter School’s pride and joy is its parent-driven enrichment program.

Each Friday students participate in untraditional experiential learning outside the four-walled classrooms, exposing them to concepts such as photography, cooking, stop animation film production, karate and of course, skiing.


This year, the program got an overhaul, and according to Creekside, just got better.

Created predominantly by volunteer parents and the school’s PTO, the new Enrichment Friday program further develops the concept, engaging students in each grade in dedicated “themes” or thematic based units for each semester.

Each grade, kindergarten through sixth, is assigned a theme designed to provide students with intriguing investigations that integrate all subject areas. The goal is to create authentic learning experiences that engage all senses and provide students with opportunities to connect directly with the real world.


The classes create an environment for students to learn and explore curriculum in a hands-on way, using math, language and visual art, social studies, science and most importantly, creative thinking skills.

According to Alicia Doherty, Creekside parent and director of the Enrichment program, “Twenty-one percent of our school year occurs through this program — for many kids their favorite part of the week — which is why we took a harder look at how it worked to ensure we’re creating lifelong lovers of learning.”

Rather than kids rotating through various instructors in a given day, each grade delves into their theme with one teacher for the entire semester.

This fall kindergartners will learn through the theme of “Farms and Food” led by Olivia Cushing, an environmental conservation and sustainability major and former science and outdoor Education coordinator at Incline Elementary. Cushing will guide the kinders, exploring patterns in nature, what plants and animals need to survive, incorporating journaling, hiking, art and science along the way.

First graders will weave through “Pioneer Life” practices, led by artist and creative instructor Bethany Lund. Second graders will experience “Water World,” studying all aspects of our water systems with Creekside parents Michelle McCay Moran, an environmental educator, and Katrina Smolen, a local hydrologist.

Third graders will morph into “Sierra Scientists” with the founders of the Headwaters Science Institute and fourth graders will take a spin as “Myth Busters” with science teacher Eric Mann.

Finally, and perhaps most enthusiastically, fifth and sixth-graders become stealth “Fox Walkers” with tracker school veteran Rick Berry, developing a keener connection Winter session will again roll out with the traditional ski program Creekside has successfully developed, where students ski on Fridays at ski resorts and Nordic center. Creekside parent and former World Cup skier Kirsten Rickenbach now heads that program. And, Spring session is now in development.


While most grades are full at Creekside, there are still spots in the kindergarten classroom. Classes are limited to a total of 22 students in each grade, with a teacher and teacher’s assistant present.

Interested parents of all grades are encouraged to inquire. Contact Creekside’s new Vice Principal Gillian Tomasini at 530-581-1036 about enrolling your child.


Creekside Charter School (serving grades kindergarten through six) combined with Squaw Valley Preparatory (serving grades seven through twelve) provide a complete K-12 public charter school experience for Tahoe-Truckee students. The Creekside Charter School and Squaw Valley Preparatory education teams use a blended learning model, combining independent study options and classroom instruction to cultivate high academic achievement, individual passions and strong social development. For more information about Creekside, visit and for details on Squaw Valley Prep visit

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