The Ross Valley Charter Experience

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. The RVC approach fosters independence and collaboration, individual responsibility and a caring sense of community.

Image saying "Welcome! Bienvenido!" Ross Valley Charter is a welcoming learning community
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"I can see it in their eyes. That's what learning should be: passion. We are all passionate about the importance of our learning, so we all form a community together, volunteer together, help the kids thrive."

-  Ying C., parent

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Third-graders play the bells
Ross Valley Charter is a tuition-free public school offering students in Transitional  Kindergarten through 5th grade a distinct learning experience. RVC received authorization from the California State Board of Education, and receives oversight from their charter division.

All RVC teachers are state-credentialed and are guided by the Common Core State Standards, and our students take state-mandated standardized tests. RVC graduates are academically and socially prepared for middle school. Students also receive Spanish, art, music and physical education every week.

RVC teachers are innovators, committed to a model of progressive education that emphasizes deep inquiry and exploration in multi-age classrooms. Our teachers value curiosity and encourage children to trust their natural desire to question and explore. Core academic skills are woven into play, investigation, performance and art. Students learn at their own rate and are allowed to express their intelligence and gifts in a multitude of ways.

> Click here to see our staff biographies

 

In The Classroom

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"With these teachers, my kids are viewed and  respected as co-creators of their own education, not simply being taught concepts and filling out worksheets.

-  Jenn W., parent

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In each RVC classroom you will find an industrious, hands-on learning community, shaped by its individual members yet alike in these common elements:

  • Project-based exploration that encourages in-depth learning while providing meaningful context to core academic skills.
  • Trusting student / teacher relationships, nurtured over the course of two years in multi-age classrooms where children learn from, and with, each other.
  • Inclusive environments where student choices, abilities, perspectives, and emotions are valued.
  • Engaged communities where parents, teachers and students are partners in education.

RVC students emerge from their elementary experience confident and self-aware.

When meeting RVC students, you will find:

  • Independent learners who know how to find and apply information, and are comfortable taking risks.
  • Problem-solvers with extensive experience working in teams to integrate perspectives and present solutions.
  • Effective communicators, perceptive listeners and compelling presenters, who are comfortable using speech, performance, movement and other media to express ideas.
  • Creative and adaptive thinkers who go beyond identifying a single right answer.
  • Individuals who persevere through challenges to discover their full potential as learners, leaders, and community members.
  • Caring global citizens with a sense of belonging, compassion for others, an eye for social justice and a positive experience of diversity.
  • Academically prepared students with strong language, math, and science skills that they can apply meaningfully to relevant problems

› Click here for a look into an RVC classroom

 

Creating Confident Learners

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"We're cultivating risk-takers. They are not afraid to be up front, to fail."

-  Chris Lyons, 4/5 Classroom Teacher

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Ross Valley Charter Students write poetry while sitting on the floor of the de Young Museum

RVC teachers are innovators, committed to a model of progressive education that emphasizes deep inquiry and exploration in a multi-age environment. Two years with each child allows RVC teachers to create optimal learning environments that build upon strengths and support the whole child.

Core academic skills are woven into play, investigation, performance and art. RVC teachers transport students through time and space to immerse them, mind and body, in learning. As classrooms are converted into forests, oceans, castles and caves, learning becomes relevant, memorable and fun.

At RVC...

  • Teachers look for ways to say “YES” to curiosity-driven ideas, projects and approaches.
  • Teachers recognize “mistakes” as learning opportunities. Out-of-the-box thinking and safe risks are encouraged.
  • Teachers challenge children to ask critical thinking questions as they seek, explore and find solutions.
  • Teachers, administrators, parents and students collaborate with one another to create an inclusive community of learning and trust.

The Multi-Age Experience

Ross Valley Charter fifth grade student hanging out with her second grade buddy.
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"My favorite part of multi-age is developing a deep and meaningful relationship with my students and their families. The children experience significant academic and social/emotional growth, particularly in the second year, because they feel so safe and comfortable."

-  Emily Korrell, 2/3 Classroom Teacher

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RVC students will be in classes with two grades together (typically TK/K/1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th). They will stay with the same teacher for two years, which will enable them to develop a deep, trusting relationship with their teacher. It also will mean they typically have only three teachers during their elementary school experience, minimizing the anxiety that children often feel as they move into a new school year. At the beginning of the second year with the same teacher, there's no need for a “getting to know you” period; students immediately pick up where they left off academically, with teachers knowing what they need to focus on from the start. Multi-age teachers find the second year with a student to be especially productive, and they enjoy the opportunity to watch children mature over two full years.

Students also get the opportunity to alternate between being a younger and an older student in their classes. The younger students learn from the older and more experienced students. The older students model behavior and help welcome the younger children, which supports our school culture of students learning from one another and relying upon each other. When a student asks a teacher a question, the teacher encourages the student to ask a peer who will be able to help. Children become accustomed to helping each other, regardless of being the younger or older student in the classroom.

Students in mixed-age classrooms can represent quite a broad range of developmental levels, academic proficiency, and experience. RVC students are become comfortable being in a community with learners at all stages, and with this exposure, they gain respect for individuals learning at their own pace. They develop a greater appreciation for their own progress when they witness others being introduced to skills they themselves have learned previously, and they can envision where their learning will take them as they see what more experienced students are able to achieve.

Family Engagement

The door is always open at RVC. Parents are welcome to watch, and encouraged to get involved. Whether helping with math games, supporting new readers, supervising a building project, planting a garden, or serving on the Leadership Council, parent volunteers are a vital part of the RVC community.

Parents who cannot volunteer during the school day often take home projects or participate in evening or weekend events. Parents are not required to volunteer. However, many parents find that their lives, and those of their children, are enriched when they are able to do so.

 

Education Services

At RVC, it is our mission to understand and support the unique social, emotional and academic needs of every child. In addition to the classroom teachers, RVC staff includes a Special Education Teacher (click here for more information about our approach to Special Education), an Intervention Specialist, an English Language Development Teacher, and a bilingual Family Outreach and Support Coordinator.

Transitional Kindergarten

If your child is age-eligible for Transitional Kindergarten at RVC, his or her application will be drawn with the Kindergarten applications in the lottery. TK students will be placed in Kindergarten/1st grade classrooms, but they will follow a modified curriculum that is age- and developmentally-appropriate.

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"I’ve learned so much about kids and parenting from watching RVC teachers in action. Rather than fix, they encourage. . . they answer with questions. I love watching smiles appear as kids realize they can solve their own problems."

-  Angela Vidinsky, MAP alumni parent

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Ross Valley Charter Teacher works with students

Lifelong Learners

At RVC we are proud of our unique learning community. Ross Valley Charter believes that our students need to be prepared for a world that may be difficult for us to envision. We want to equip our students for a lifetime of learning, change, and collaboration. With information and data more readily available to all via the Internet and other media and technology, it is no longer as important to memorize discrete facts. Rather, success will call for knowing a coherent body of knowledge that facilitates knowing how to access information, acquiring knowledge, and applying it to solve novel problems. Doing so requires resourcefulness, flexibility, and an ability to see things in new ways. Educated citizens of the 21st century understand that life is interconnected and interdependent, and will see themselves as lifelong learners in order to be active and responsible members of a diverse global community. Our students will need to be culturally competent to work and interact effectively with a wide range of different people and perspectives.

According to Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, “Being an independent, lifelong learner and knowing how to access and analyze information, which is growing exponentially and is constantly changing, is far more important than rote learning of specific academic content. Students today must be prepared to apply what they’ve learned to new situations and challenges, rather than merely recite what they’ve memorized.”

Today’s students need to build and employ a broad range of skills, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and computing, as well as the ability to seek information,  communicate effectively in multiple mediums, and be creative and critical thinkers. Students will need compassionate and resilient social and emotional skills to participate in healthy relationships at home, work, and in the larger world. They will need to be able to work independently as well as cooperatively with others.

It is the objective of Ross Valley Charter to enable students to become self-motivated, competent,  lifelong learners.

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