Focus Group Members!
Wiseburn School District Board of Trustees
Dr. Tom Johnstone
Chief Business Official
Director, Human Resources
Students and educators who participated in the October focus groups selected the new logo for Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools -- a graphic of two students with arms raised and intertwined, suggesting a "W" for Wiseburn. See the logo at our new web site!
Welcome to the second issue of Innovate!
From the Executive Director
In this issue of Innovate! I am pleased to share with you some exciting developments that are bringing Wiseburn that much closer to opening our charter high schools in August of 2009.
Are you the parent of an 8th-grader? Is your child interested in attending ninth grade at the charter schools in 2009-10? If so, you and your child need to attend an information meeting to participate in the admissions lottery process. If you have not yet attended an information meeting, please come to the final one. It will be held from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Multipurpose Room at Dana Middle School on January 20, 2009.
If you have already attended an information meeting, remember February 11, 2009, is the last day to turn in your admissions lottery form. The admissions lottery -- a public drawing of enrollment spaces -- will be held February 12, 2009, from 6:00-8:00 pm at Dana Middle School in the Multipurpose Room (attendance is optional).
I would like to extend a special thank-you to the talented Whitney Curry, currently an 8th-grade student in the district, for her article, "My Experience at High Tech High," which is featured below. Whitney is one of the students serving on the charter schools' Advisory Group. Her counsel and creativity are appreciated.
Please enjoy the newsletter. Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Schools Chief O'Connell Visits Founders
In early December, State Superintendent
of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell (center) met with Wiseburn charter and district leaders to discuss the innovative programs and partnerships that will be featured at the new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) charter high school in the 2009-10 school year. Pictured with Superintendent O'Connell are Chet Pipkin (left), Dr. Matthew Wunder (second from left), Nicole Tempel (second from right), and Dr. Tom Johnstone (right).
"Jack O'Connell is a knowledgeable expert and a wonderful evangelist for the children of this state when it comes to high quality education," said Mr. Pipkin, Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools Board President. "He is extraordinarily supportive of communities like ours taking a leadership role for kids who might otherwise not have access to this kind of an education."
As chief of California's public school system and leader of the California Department of Education, Superintendent O'Connell has focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing students for a rapidly changing global economy by holding high standards for all students. A former high school teacher and state senator, he is a strong supporter and facilitator of partnerships between schools, businesses, communities and philanthropies in order to engage students with challenging, real-world education experiences.
A New 21st Century High School
The founders, staff and volunteers of Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools are delighted to chart a new course for district students by providing them a place of learning to ensure their success in college, at work and in life.
In October, the Wiseburn School District Board of Trustees, sharing a deep commitment to improving educational opportunities for our promoting 8th-grade students, authorized a new charter high school. The school will prepare students for college and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Opening in the fall of 2009 with a 9th-grade class, the school will add a new grade each year until it reaches its full capacity of approximately 500 students in grades 9-12.
The California Department of Education (CDE) has awarded the charter school $600,000 to help support planning and the first two years of the school's operations. The award is the maximum allotted for new charters from the 2007-2010 California Public Charter School Grant Program. "With this funding, our charter school planning efforts have reached a significant milestone," said Dr. Wunder. "I would like to thank our Superintendent, Dr. Tom Johnstone, and our Board for their leadership. We now move forward purposefully to achieve our goals."
Please visit the web site at www.wiseburncharters.org for more information.
My Experience at High Tech High
By Whitney D. Curry
The author (left) at High Tech High
On Thursday, December 4, 2008, seven other students from Dana Middle School and I went to observe a school called High Tech High in San Diego, Calif. A group of adults who are putting together the Wiseburn Charter High Schools accompanied us. While we were there we took a tour, visited classrooms, talked to other students and watched presentations.
During the tour, my group and I went into some of the classrooms where students weren't testing. The students explained what they were working on and the project they had for homework.
Afterwards, everyone met up again, but we were split into two groups after introductions. Each group spent a few minutes in two different areas observing pieces of information. We looked at surveys explaining what students mostly want and don't want in their high school experience. We also looked at information about other high schools. Approximately 30 to 45 minutes later, we used the information each group gathered to form an idea for the type of environment the Wiseburn Charter Schools will have.
Next we came up with a name for the schools. First we separated into three groups and brainstormed ideas. There were many choices such as "Open Tech Art" and "Da Vinci High." But the name that gained the most votes was "Da Vinci" -- as in Leonardo da Vinci.
After we finished our discussions, we went to another building to watch High Tech High student presentations. Four students gave one presentation that I clearly remember. Their presentation was about their internship. Most of the students believed that the interview was the hardest part of their internship. They explained what they did and their favorite part of it. At the end of the presentation we had question-and-answer time.
Around 8:00 pm, everyone walked over to a pizza place, not too far from the school. Then we were on our way home.
Common Sense California Presents Check
Ealier this month, Common Sense California Executive Director Pete Peterson (left) presented a check for $7,500 to Dr. Donald Brann (right) of Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools.
The grant from Common Sense California is helping the organization facilitate civic engagement by developing communication channels that include a web site, an e-newsletter, focus groups, surveys and advisory groups.
Coordinating with the district, Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools has involved students, parents, teachers and community members in helping to design a world-class program to be offered by the school. Opinions and ideas will be sought on an ongoing basis from these stakeholder groups as the new schools develop, open and expand.
Also pictured in the image above is Dr. Jack McManus (center); he and Mr. Peterson both teach in the public policy department at Pepperdine University.
|30 Attend Faculty Recruitment Meeting
On December 9, 2008, 30 teachers gathered at The Lakes at El Segundo to learn about the charter schools' vision, mission and programs.
Enthusiasm for the active, student-centered role teachers will play was pronounced. "It's very exciting," math and science teacher Ariel Ramac said. "You could really spread your wings and get back to the craft of teaching."
A second faculty recruitment meeting will be held on January 21, 2009. The recruitment meetings are just the first step of the hiring process. Interviews are next, followed by a day-long hiring symposium at which parents, community members and other Wiseburn educators will interact with the candidates, see the candidates teach a sample lesson, and help select faculty members.
Thank you for being part of the Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools community. Please contact us anytime to share your comments, concerns or questions -- these are your schools.
Executive Director Wiseburn 21st Century Charter Schools