Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New Elementary School

By Mandy Demmert - Explorer Parent

I was a teacher for 8 years before my second daughter, Cailin, was born.  Education has always been on my brain.  I have a lot of opinions about how education, elementary education in particular, should be.  Since my 3-year-old, Abby, has been at Explorer, kindergarten has been on my mind.  I am realizing that it is coming faster than I am ready for (are we ever ready for it?!).  My husband and I have been talking a lot about elementary school since the last 12 months.  We are both concerned about our public school.  I taught in public schools for 8 years, but I can confidently say I will not send my daughters to our neighborhood school (for numerous reasons).  We have begun looking into other options, including private schools.

I received an e-mail from Abby’s Las Madres play group about a very intriguing alternative.  I have heard wonderful things about Discovery Charter School in the Moreland District.  We are in the Campbell District, so I knew that getting into Discovery was a hope and a dream.  It is lottery to get into charter schools, and being out of the district, our chances are slim.  This year alone there were 700+ applicants for the kindergarten class at Discovery.  Obviously, there is a great desire for education that follows the Discovery model.  Thus, the quest has begun to develop Discovery II. The link to the new school’s development is:

Here are a few quotes about the Discovery philosophy:

“Curriculum is aligned to each student’s developmental level to allow children to feel successful regardless of academic level.”

"Students should have time to develop at their own rate and be presented with daily opportunities to learn at their own developmental level in each academic area.

“…students learn from each other, from teachers, and from cross-age tutors.”

"Curriculum should be designed around themes.”

“The brain is pattern-seeking and looks for connections between pieces of information.”

Discovery II will be a mirror of Discovery 1 (in terms of curriculum, philosophy, and teaching style).  The location has yet to be determined, but it is likely to be in Campbell or San Jose.  There are so many details yet to be worked out, but the plan is for the new school to open with Kindergarten through third grade in the fall of 2013.  The school needs to decide if they will be a part of the county or be part of a district (districts tend to be very hesitant to include charter schools for a variety of reasons).  If the school belongs to the county, the applicants will be admitted regardless of their home district.  If they belong to a district, the applicants will likely be favored if it is their home district.  Funding varies greatly based on which of these affiliations they chose and there are advantages to each.  They are also considering using Proposition 39, which would have to be voted upon.  To learn more about using Prop 39 and charter schools, go to http://www.calcharters.org.

It is exciting for me to see the creation of a school, especially a school I am passionate about.  Obviously, the intent of my being a part of this group is that my girls will be granted some kind of preference in the lottery when they begin school.  Nothing is guaranteed at this point, but it is exciting to see more schools being founded with this philosophy of parent involvement, positive discipline, and a child-centered education.  It is drastically different from almost every other public school I have seen.  I am honored to be a part of the founding of this school.

If you are interested in learning more, I urge you to come to the next planning meeting on June 5 at Discovery School and join the yahoo group by emailing Discovery2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.