California Educator

APRIL 2010

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LEFT: Student Alexis Colburn at Jacoby Creek Charter School in Bayside. sense to them because it’s in their back- yard. In fact it is their backyard.” “Some people think that all we do Charter school fosters community and love of learning At Jacoby Creek Charter School, stu- dents hatch salmon eggs in an aquarium and care for the babies before releasing them into the wild. Students also restore the local watershed, remove non-na- tive plants from hiking trails, test water quality and pro- mote animal spaying and neutering programs through volunteerism and public ser- vice announcements. “Their curriculum is to- Humboldt State University, who in turn work at the campus tutoring or teaching enrichment classes. Instead of being kept separate, middle school age students spend time with their younger “bud- dies” on the playground. But the best form of com- tally real and hands-on,” says Bill Trewartha, whose fifth- grade students are raising salmon. “It fits in with our life-science curriculum perfectly. And we have so much community support. I have more volunteers in my classroom than I know what to do with.” The motto of the K-8 single-school charter district is “Community: Live in it, learn from it, and give to it.” There is a community garden. Community vol- unteers are welcome to pitch in. Teach- ers mentor student teachers at nearby 14 California Educator | APRIL 2010 Karen Simmons Jacoby Creek TA president munity i s “giving back” through service learning. By linking curriculum and state standards to hands-on proj- ects, students are insti lled with a sense of curiosity, pur- pose and love of l e a rning , whi l e benefiting the rural Hum- boldt County community of Bayside. “You can see how much they have learned over the years,” says third-grade teach- er Catherine Girard, watching s tudent s pul l non-nat ive plants from the school’s na- ture trai l . “What they are learning in school makes around here is teach to the test, but nothing could be further from the truth,” says Karen Simmons, president of the Jacoby Creek Teachers Associa- tion (JCTA). “We have high scores be- cause of the good teaching that happens here every single day.” Among the good teachers is Kirk Goddard, California’s History Teacher of the Year in 2008. He was selected by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of Ameri- can History for keeping students en- gaged with primary documents such as eyewitness accounts from events in his- tory. He modestly says that he is only one of many outstanding teachers. “We have a great faculty that works very well together,” he relates. “Students are motivated and interested. Starting in kindergarten, they are taught self-disci- pline and self-motivation techniques, so that by the time they get to the upper grades they have self-discipline. Once they apply what they are studying to their lives, they see value in what they are learning.” Another key to success is Bill Trewartha Jacoby Creek Teachers Association the faculty’s commitment to ongoing and meaningful dia- logue. Teachers hold grade- level meetings three times a month and schoolwide staff meetings to discuss issues. Central to these discussions is the school’s vision for the next f ive years, which in- cludes focusing on student achievement in a depressed economy.

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