A truly customized approach to education | SierraSun.com

A truly customized approach to education

Special to the Sun

Courtesy Custom Learning AcademyCustom Learning Academy students engage in field science activities in Martis Valley with teacher Mike Wyreman.

TAHOE DONNER and#8212; What are the benefits of tailoring kindergarten through 12th grade education to a childand#8217;s strengths and weaknesses? How does one extraordinary, local nonprofit school use assessments to deliver the most tailored learning experience for ages 5 through 18? Ask Lisa Crosby, the founder and director of a K through 12 school nestled in Tahoe Donner and sheand#8217;ll give you a straight answer.

and#8220;We meet students where they are and teach to mastery because we know children benefit academically and#8212; across subjects and#8212; in a customized learning environment. Our unique 21st century school design appeals to the and#8216;iGenerationand#8217; and motivates a love of learning.and#8221;

Custom Learning Academy (CLA), a college preparatory private school that is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, employs a highly personalized approach to education, offering national standard-based curriculum tailored to the individual needs of each student. In addition, all students learn a foreign language and musical instrument.

CLA began as a tutoring service in 2005 when Crosby, a veteran public school teacher, observed the strong demand for alternatives among local families. Since then demand has grown and CLA has attracted top educators as well as students from as far away as Reno, Nev. who attend CLA on a daily basis for the enviable 10-to-1 student teacher ratio (12 to 1 for middle and high school students) and academic results.

Heather Sallan said, and#8220;The best decision we have ever made was the choice to put our son into CLA just more than one year ago. CLA is a school that has an exceptional learning environment with creative methods to help every child to not just succeed, but to thrive in education. Our son is blossoming in every area of his life as a direct result of being at CLA.and#8221;

Open house for community

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Parents, prospective students and community members are invited to explore the reality of customized teaching and learning during the complimentary Spring 2012 CLA Open House on Wednesday, March 21.

and#8220;Weand#8217;re opening our doors to showcase outstanding faculty, engage students and answer questions about the enriching, year-round learning environment CLA offers students,and#8221; explains Crosby. The open house begins at 6 p.m. with age appropriate breakout sessions featuring interactive activities for children and information for parents and interested community members.

For example, soon-to-be kindergarten and first grade students will use water colors to paint a still life in celebration of springtime, second and third graders will have the opportunity to explore adjectives through a creative art project and fourth and fifth grade students will be enthralled with a science experiment involving magnetism. Middle school students will create their own wallets and high school students and their parents will explore ancient Egypt through an engaging display created by current CLA students. All children should be accompanied by an adult.

Following the breakout sessions everyone will gather to enjoy complimentary refreshments and learn about CLAand#8217;s distinctive approach that promises academic success in a nurturing environment. There will be an optional campus tour.

In addition, a 20 percent coupon for dinner at The Lodge, CLAand#8217;s neighbor, will be provided to all attendees.

Supplementary offerings

In addition to full-time enrollment, CLA works with dozens of public school students on a regular basis through private tutoring, homework club and the popular rolling enrollment course-for-credit option. An affordable, fun and educational summer camp is offered on a weekly basis this summer.

and#8220;In this economy you might think the extra money for the classes at CLA are a luxury that you need to cut. But we canand#8217;t express enough the worth of the education. The return in our case far exceeds the initial cost,and#8221; said Dean and Sharon Cook, parents of a pre-calculus student.

CLA offers a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and is recognized by NCAA for college-bound athletes hoping for scholarships.

Among other benefits, WASC accreditation enables students to earn credits accepted by UC schools and qualify for Cal Grant loans. Located between the Trout Creek Recreational Center and The Lodge in Tahoe Donner, CLA serves more than 150 full and part-time students.

Find out more at the open house on March 21, visit customlearning.org or call 530-587-5470.

and#8212; Nicole Cheslock runs NC Communications, a boutique PR agency serving businesses and nonprofit corporations. She can be reached

at 530-548-5010.