This article was posted in Marin Mommies in 2017.
Getting to Know Ross Valley Charter School
Enter a Ross Valley Charter kindergarten/first grade classroom and you discover a joyful buzz of activity. Scanning the room, you notice a group of children happily constructing a marble run with blocks and PVC pipes, others playing a math game with a parent, and some outside observing wildlife with magnifying glasses and notebooks. Amidst the action, you locate the teacher, sitting on the rug with a small group of students forming letters on mini chalkboards. A girl approaches: “Would you like to see the painting I’m working on?”
Ross Valley Charter (RVC) is a new, tuition-free public school available to all California residents. Enrollment is now open for transitional kindergarten (TK) through 5th grade.
The Ross Valley Charter School Difference
The RVC curriculum includes many large, creative projects that integrate math, science, history, reading, writing, critical thinking, and the arts. In the K/1 classrooms, students studying the Middle Ages sew hats and felt pouches, plant wheat, practice calligraphy, and create an entire medieval village, complete with fishmongers, candle makers, and jousting knights. Second and third graders exploring the ocean teach students from the other classes about various marine layers and the creatures that inhabit them, by creating interactive exhibits in the classroom and through a musical performance for the school. In their California Gold Rush studies, fourth- and fifth-grade students create and perform a skit that brings to life the “strike it rich” excitement, then guide their visiting families through the route of their choosing (overland, around Cape Horn, or through Panama) to the “gold fields” across campus, where they may pan for gold and then spend their earnings at town stores and businesses set up by classmates.
A Tradition of Public School Excellence
RVC grows out of an established multi-age program whose teachers have taught together as a team for many years. A hallmark of RVC is mixed-aged classrooms: students stay with a single teacher for two years. “My favorite part of multi-age is developing a deep and meaningful relationship with my students and their families,” says teacher Emily Korrell. “The children experience significant academic and social/emotional growth, particularly in the second year, because they feel so safe and comfortable.”
RVC emphasizes the joy of discovery: students are encouraged to follow their natural curiosity, and are given the space and tools to explore their interests. RVC teachers work alongside students rather than lecturing or directing them, thus empowering children to question, reflect, and find solutions on their own. The approach fosters independence and collaboration, individual responsibility and a caring sense of community.
Spanish, PE, music, and visual arts programs are included at RVC, which opens August 2017 on White Hill campus in Fairfax. The school site is nestled next to wooded hills and nature trails, with plenty of outdoor space for students to explore.
RVC teachers are state-credentialed and are guided by the Common Core State Standards, and students take state-mandated standardized tests. RVC graduates are fully academically prepared for middle school.