Parents starting new charter school on West Shore of Tahoe
Nearly 40 parents have organized to jump-start a new charter school on the West Shore, separate from the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, after the school board voted earlier this year to close Creekside Magnet at Rideout.
The new school will operate under the Nevada City-based Forest Charter School, an independent study charter, with a site already in Truckee. The new public school will operate a personalized learning program that includes a more structured classroom option with thematic instruction in small class sizes, as well as enrichment days.
The Forest Charter School Creekside Cooperative will join other Forest Charter sites in Truckee, Nevada City, Grass Valley, American River Canyon and Foresthill.
“We provide an eclectic way of approaching kids,” Sandy McDivitt, director of Forest Charter School told a group of 20 parents Aug. 1. “We try to find out the gifts and passions of kids to find out the way they learn.”
McDivitt said unlike traditional public schools where all students are expected to fit in with one way of teaching, Forest Charter teachers structure their teaching to fit the students’ needs. The program allows students to learn at their own pace and gives flexibility if families travel a lot or if a student wants to spend time on a particular interest like skiing, music or art.
“I am personally excited about the flexibility and the enrichment opportunities,” said Camille Taylor, a parent of two young children. “We’re not starting from scratch. It’s ours for the taking.”
Many of the parents involved had students who attended Creekside Magnet at Rideout, Taylor said. The school has changed through the years, but the core group of families has basically stayed the same.
Missy Mohler founded The Learning Tree seven years ago, which began as a one-room classroom in Lake Forest and then moved to the corner of North Lake Boulevard and Ward Street in Sunnyside the following year. It was under the umbrella of Prosser Creek Charter School in its second year.
The school became Creekside, a charter school, for three years. A week before Creekside was to go into its fourth year, its charter was revoked. It was then changed to Creekside Magnet at Rideout and moved to Timberland Street on the West Shore, where it had been for the past two years. Forest Charter School Creekside Cooperative will make its home back at the building on the corner of North Lake Boulevard and Ward Street across from Kilner Park.
“This school, in the various forms and names it has held over the years, has always been about recognizing and nurturing the individual child, the child’s family and our community, in that order,” Taylor wrote in a statement to parents. “Instruction will continue to follow and hone the methods of inquiry-based learning and positive discipline as in prior years.”
The school will also keep two of the teachers that taught at Creekside Magnet at Rideout, Mindy Adams and Gilian Willows. Adams will teach a full day of kindergarten, as well as first grade. Willows will teach second to fifth grades.
The school’s parent teacher organization will raise funds through fund-raisers and donations and no one will be excluded from the school. The school will begin classes Aug. 18.
“I think the parents like having involvement of developing and running of the school,” Taylor said. “They like the creative potential that Lake Forest has.”