Is a charter school a public school?
Yes. Charter schools are public schools of choice open to anyone committed to being a part of the educational community.
So how is a charter school different from a traditional public school?
A charter school is a public school that operates independently from its local school district, yet which is still accountable for student achievement and operational performance. A charter school is funded on a per-student basis from state tax funds, and is bound by a legal contract (charter) with its sponsoring district. However, it is exempt from many elements of state education regulations and is governed as an independent non-profit, with its own board of directors. Charter schools were developed to encourage educators to try different approaches in the public sector since children do not all learn in the same manner.
Do you charge tuition?
No. Charter schools receive funding from the state of California. However, this funding is insufficient to provide the level of education offered. All families are encouraged to support the school to the extent possible. The gap between what the state provides and what it costs to educate a student at Sebastopol Charter is about $2,400 per year. We have a separate, non-profit foundation called the Charter Foundation that is solely dedicated to supporting our school. We hope everyone participates by volunteering and giving in various ways.
What kind of curriculum do you offer?
Our school follows closely the traditional core principles of Public Waldorf education and is committed to being a model in this regard.
Why do you discourage media for children?
The reasons for this have as much to do with the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as with the (to say the least) questionable content of much of the programming. Electronic media is believed to seriously hamper the development of the child’s imagination – a faculty which is believed to be central to the healthy development of the individual. Computer use by young children is also discouraged.
Who is eligible to attend Sebastopol Charter School?
Charter schools, as non-tuition based government-funded public schools, are open to anyone residing in the state of California. If more students apply than there are spaces available, admission is decided by lottery. Priority is given to students residing in the Sebastopol Union School District, but if spaces remain, students from outside the district are allowed to attend. Once a student is enrolled at the school, priority is also given to siblings. Age restrictions on public school students also apply to us.
How is your educational approach different?
Our educational approach incorporates the core principles of Public Waldorf education, which are designed to be developmentally appropriate. The method is partly based on the question: what is the best thing to teach a child at each age? Rather than the question: how early can a child be taught each subject? Children are given tasks according to their readiness, and not pushed towards the earliest possible achievement.
Our educational approach is also multidisciplinary, centered on a 3-4 week subject unit called the Main Lesson Block. At Sebastopol Independent Charter School, academic studies are integrated across disciplines such as art, science, math, and history. For example, students in a seventh grade main lesson history block on the Renaissance Period may be studying the lives and times of da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rafael, while at the same time creating their own “text-books,” complete with their own writings (in calligraphy) and drawings. Earlier in the day they might practice 3-part recorder music and recite poetry from the Renaissance, and later the same day, study the laws of perspective in Math class. The next day they would apply those laws in their own drawings or paintings.
Does your school support early reading skills?
Our curriculum has a strong bent toward early-learning language skills including story-telling and oral traditions. This exposure, when integrated in lessons, serves to awaken the imagination and creates a strong curiosity for successful introduction of reading and writing, in addition to introducing phonemic awareness through listening. Our curriculum includes instruction of foundational reading skills starting in Kindergarten including phonemic awareness, sequence, and fine motor skills. Comprehension and reading interest are strongly linked to the creative aspects of our curriculum. Focus on oral traditions and the Main Lesson Block approach, further helping to build foundational skills. We are confident that the curriculum meets student academic needs, as our students thrive in high school and college after graduate from Sebastopol Charter, and our state test scores are among the highest in the county.
What kind of child benefits from your school?
Many different types of children benefit from our methods. Because the lessons involve multiple intelligences (movement, language, drawing) children can enter into learning in several ways. That said, our school involves a structured approach that is centered around whole group instruction, rather than individualized work or programs where children rotate around lesson centers. Because the teaching style and curriculum are centered around a child’s development needs, children tend to be heavily engaged in their individual learning in the group setting. As one teacher refers to it: “teacher-directed, child-centered.”
One of the major strengths of this type of instruction is the sense of community and cooperation that develops within the class — an open community that invites children in rather than closing out new kids. That said, it isn’t right for everyone. Those families looking for very individualized instruction, a “choice-based” learning environment, or would like a small class size may not find our school the right fit, but our Enrollment Coordinator can help you to decide.
Does your school provide support for different kinds of learners? How do you support single classrooms for both “advanced” and slower learners?
While the lessons are whole class, different children can engage at different levels of complexity and/or progress at different speeds. We strive to meet the needs of each student and most families find that their child’s needs are fulfilled through the mix of auditory and visual presentation of the material.
Does your school have a music program?
Yes. All students study music at our school. In fact, it is a requirement for students to play an instrument throughout their time with us and we ask that families take this commitment seriously.
What kind of foreign language program do you offer and for which grades?
We offer Spanish to all students, grades K-8. Following our arts-based framework, much of the early instruction in Spanish will be song and music-based. Games and verse will figure prominently in instruction through the grades.
How can I reserve a spot for my child in your school?
We encourage you visit our Enrollment page. If there are additional questions you have then please email our Enrollment Coordinator or call: (707) 824-9700 ext 301.
Do you have an After-care program?
While we have offered one in the past, due to Covid, we are not currently able to offer After Care. (Previously we offered After Care for grades K-8 until 5 pm every school day. Please see our After Care page).
Sebastopol Charter shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations, shall not charge tuition, and shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, race, gender, disability, or any other characteristic designated in SB777 and as set forth in Section 47605(d) of the Education Code.