In an era of choices, creating community by sending our girls to our neighborhood school

The Little Engine that Could

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When I was a child, “The Little Engine that Could”,  was one of my favorite picture books. I loved the colorful illustrations of the silly clown and the giraffes and the anthropomorphized milk bottles and lollipops.  According to Peguin.com, this iconic book “repeated refrain of “I think I can™” has become a symbolic representation of healthy childhood development, encouraging children to believe in themselves, demonstrate bravery, and build self-confidence.”

September was a dark month at our school. Our principal had left and although we had a couple of nice-enough interim principals, things were happening that I felt we had no control over.  In general, since the charter school boom here in LA, September is the month of charter hustling – that phenomenon I talked about last year where kids disappear without saying goodbye as their parents gleefully move them into newly available spots in new charter school locations.  I spoke to some kindergarten parents that decided to come to Carthay because of our outgoing principal, and now that she was leaving, they weren’t sure they wanted to stay, despite good experiences at the school so far.

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So, off they went, often stealthily as if sneaking off into the night. When it came to “norm day,” when the district takes a snapshot of enrollment numbers to determine resources your school will receive for the year, we were three students short to retain one of our teachers.  Kids throughout the school were reshuffled into new combo classes.  It wasn’t always clear how decisions were made and understandably, some children and parents were upset. Parents threatened to leave.  Despite the enthusiasm we felt at the beginning of the year and with the magnet designation around the corner, it felt like our captainless ship was going to sink.   At a PTA meeting, when we were discussing our under-enrollment, a couple of kinder moms told us that after they heard how much their children were enjoying the school, their friends came to try to enroll their own children and our office turned them away.  I gasped in disbelief. How could this be?

Apparently LAUSD didn’t give us any “open-enrollment” spots this year, meaning you can only come if you live in the neighborhood or if you went through the more complicated permit process.  Even though we didn’t have enough students!!  I am not sure what the rationale was. I guess someone in an office somewhere downtown was crunching numbers and came up with some logarithm that seemed to make sense to him or her, but the result was that we got kicked while we were down.  We were restricted from filling our classrooms, then penalized for not having enough kids, by taking away a teacher.

I didn’t write in September, because I didn’t want to put all this in writing.  It was too sad.  Plus, I didn’t want neighborhood families to read it and run away like my daugther used to do if she was afraid to face the conflict in a child-friendly movie.  Some friends asked if we would start looking for other schools for next year.  I thought about it for a split second.  Of course we wouldn’t go.  Maybe, like the little engine from my favorite childhood story, we just had to chug up that hill a little slower and chant our mantra, I think I can, I think I can, a little longer until we made it to the top of the mountain.  One mom friend pointed out, if your kids are still happy and thriving, you are still blessed to have been sending them to your neighborhood school all along.  Maybe we weren’t cursed. Maybe this was just the conflict in the story that makes the happy ending so much more rewarding?

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Of course, that was last month, this is October.   A season of transition and change. We have a sharp new principal who is already working with our school activists to bring us more resources and get our magnet plan off the ground.  We represented ourselves at the magnet fair and got good feedback.  Apparently Carthay differentiated itself from other schools’ information tables by giving out not only brochures, but also donut holes. (I’m not sure how donuts fit into an environmental theme, but no open house or volunteer day goes by without food at our school!)

So many positive things are happening now.  Our weekly GATE pull-out program just started.   As part of our growing garden science program, one of the projects the school has been talking about for a while is on the way to being funded purely by donations on Donorschose.org.   By early next year, we should have our new hydroponic, hydraulic system in the garden up and running, that filters fish excrement through soil, thus fertilizing the soil and purifying the water so that it can be pumped back into the fish tank.  A microcosm of environmental studies right there!

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I worked in the garden on this past Sunday and felt my love of the garden, the school and our goals renewed.  Hauling and stacking cement blocks and getting my hands dirty mixing soil, while our two very happy chickens strolled around freely eating bugs, gave me a physical outlet for my angst.  Sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves gets us no where.  Hard work and patience is what pays off.  Isn’t that what we want our children to learn?

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Oh, and speaking of bugs, we just got word that we will be the only school in LAUSD that is going to partner with the Museum of Natural History in making our garden a bug collection site for its new project BioSCAN!

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Our engine is starting to rev up again. We appealed to LAUSD regarding the lost teacher and it looks like we have a good chance to get the teacher back. Our website is getting updated to show off all of that great programs at the school and our first magnet school tour is happening tomorrow morning at 9am (don’t be late!).  Last week I met a new mom on campus, who told me that they moved from South Pasadena to our neighborhood, just for our school, because she heard that the kids are so happy here.

Thus, I find myself falling back on the lessons of my favorite childhood book even today. Rooting for that little engine is like rooting for our little school.   We may be small and less fancy than the other engines, but with tenacity and heart, we will get up over that steep mountain and deliver the goodies to the children waiting on the other side.

I thought I could, I thought I could!

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WELCOME NEW STUDENTS!

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The packet with our daughter’s class assignments came the week before the school year started. Also in the packet was a letter from our wonderful principal who, over the last four years, has led our great school and made it so much better.  The letter announced that she was leaving the school and going to work with a major publishing company and their Common Core Standards curriculum .  I had heard the rumor just a couple of days before, but to see her goodbye letter in writing was a real blow.  All the work that we had done, all of the outreach and bragging about our school and about our principal – would it have been in vain? Would we still be able to become the magnet school that she helped us get approved?  Of course you always have to be prepared for LAUSD to transfer great principals — where there are needy schools, there is a need for dynamic principals to work their magic and love.   But, I just was in denial that her departure would be so soon.  Clearly, her dynamism was helping launch her into the private sector.   You can’t stop those kinds of people from moving up and sometimes out.

After shedding a few tears and rounds of emails, phone calls and texts between other parent-friends, we pulled up our big-girl socks and got to work.  Our leader may be leaving, but we all were leaders ourselves and there was enough depth to the optimism and potential for more positive change that we didn’t have time to sulk.  The new school year was about to start and we had to continue to sparkle. In the age of school choice and prolific charters, a school without sparkle can get left behind.  In the past, some of my daughter’s classmates disappeared mysteriously as if they were plucked by aliens when the charter schools started a couple of weeks later.

Two days after the principal’s letter arrived, on the Sunday before school started, the other PTA Vice President and I (yes, I let myself be nominated & elected) put on a picnic on campus welcoming the new students.  We had the school send out the flyer to newly enrolled kids and I posted the flyer on our facebook page, but we had no idea if anyone would show up.   The school had never had an end of summer picnic and we just didn’t know what the response would be.

So, just in case people did come, we got 40 hamburgers, 20 veggie burgers and hotdogs and some chips and drinks, for the other VP’s husband to grill (Thanks Brian!).  We knew we could always save the extra food in the freezer for back to school night a couple weeks later.  At 1:00 pm a couple of people started to show up. By 2:00 pm we had a couple of dozen  people and by 4:00 pm, the end of the event, almost 90 parents and kids had come.

It was an amazing turn-out.  More than we expected.  One of the teachers I am very friendly with came because she thought we wouldn’t get a good turn-out and she wanted to support us involved parents, and she was pleasantly surprised to see the large turnout.  Other teachers were also there and even our departing prinicipal came and schmoozed with the new parents.

Kids played together on the playground while parents got to know each other.  My older daughter helped lead little tours of our garden, showed them the chicken coop and chickens and helped answer questions about garden science, the after-school STAR program, recess, etc.   In-coming kindergarteners made friends and rode tricylcles in the kindergarten playground and got to see watermelons growing on vines in the garden.   Hopefully any fears of starting at a new big school, without any friends, were melting away.

When my younger daughter and I were walking across campus taking another family to the garden,  she squeezed my hand and whispered, ” I love this school!” and then, ” I can’t wait for school to start!”

Maybe that is what was expressed that day, the love, the community, the feeling of home that the children and families feel at our school.  One couple admitted that they came to the picnic but were still trying to decide between 2 schools, only two days before class instruction was going to begin. This picnic was our sales pitch and it worked.  When they left they told me this was going to be their school.  They had found the community they were looking for, for their son and for themselves.

Welcome home new students!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T (find out what it means to our school!)

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“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” belts out Aretha Franklin.

This was the song that the Carthay California Dance Institute team stole the show with last month in the year-end showcase.  I may be a bit biased, but they were GOOD.  Even though neither of my kids were in the show, our whole family came to support the Carthay dancers and I found myself grinning with pride during any number with Carthay kids in it.  I looked across the theater and saw other parents from our school, teachers, and of course Ms Calhoun, our fabulous principal. Everyone looked as happy and proud as I felt. I sang along with the song and realized that it was fitting for what may be in the works for the future of our school.

A week before the concert, after several rounds of phone-tag, I finally spoke to Teresa, the parent leader of our garden and garden science program.

“You might want to sit down before I tell you this,” warned Teresa, who had been trying to get a hold of me all day after I posted my last blog entry.

“Okay, what is up???” I asked, curiosity already piqued by all the phone tag back and forth.

“Carthay has applied to become a magnet,” she confessed.

Since I was already sitting, I didn’t fall over, but it felt like I had to hold on to the table next to me to not fall off of my chair.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Well, dozens of schools are in the running so we may not get it, but if we do, it could be a really good thing for our school.  I just thought you should know since you just wrote about turning down Community Magnet and losing your magnet points.”

“But, what about the whole neighborhood school concept?” I asked.  I imagined parents desperately lining up to get their precious children into our school, which, in a way, felt good. How crazy would that be for our under-enrolled, under-appreciated, wonderful school??  But then I imagined, after all the hard work getting the neighborhood to re-embrace the school, kids living across the street being denied acceptance, and that was clearly a bad thought.

“Well, since magnet schools are supposed to encourage diversity, and we are already technically considered diverse, we don’t have to do a lottery system,” Teresa said. “We can remain a neighborhood school, at least for the foreseeable future, AND the children at Carthay will collect magnet points toward entry into a magnet middle school!”  When she said that, I let out a big breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, and suddenly became more open to hearing the benefits of possibly becoming a magnet school. The gamble we took on not sending our soon-to-be 4th grader across town just to keep our magnet points was suddenly sounding like an even wiser decision.

“Would we get more money?” I asked.

“A little bit,” Teresa said. “And a magnet coordinator.”  I thought of the very enthusiastic magnet coordinator from Community Magnet that called  to offer us the spot and gave the dire warning about losing our accumulated magnet points.

I am still not sure what a magnet coordinator will do, but extra help in administration couldn’t hurt. Teresa explained that our principal and a team of teachers and parents had applied to become an Environmental Science-themed magnet. The garden science program, the recycling/composting project, and the grant to transform our outdoor space into a community park all would fall in line with that theme.  I was starting to get excited.

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Hopefully, becoming a magnet will attract more students and increase enrollment so that excess classrooms would no longer be available for a charter school looking for a location.  This dynamic is happening all over Los Angeles, the charter school capital of the nation.  I imagined what that would be like, a charter school coming on our campus and maybe even bringing back some of the very same kids that started at our school and left, and the charter wanting to use our garden. I say garden first and for most, because that is our baby. That is what Teresa has spearheaded, that is what my husband and I and all the other involved parents have worked on over the last decade and more and still are working on to improve – our amazing Garden of Possibilities. It was one of the first things we learned about when we came to a meeting all those years ago. It was one of the projects we started helping with when our 9 year old was a baby, toddler, preschooler. We dig, weed, and water along with other parents and community members and feel ownership and pride about it.  It isn’t that we wouldn’t want charter school kids to have a garden too, but it brought up territorial feelings that I wanted to protect what is ours.  I have heard stories of divisive stand-offs between parents on other campuses and I would hate for that to have happened at our school.

But, let’s not get excited, Teresa reminds me, “It might not happen. It is a long shot. So many other schools have applied.”

Fast forward a week and I get another call from Teresa.  Lo and behold, our application was actually accepted. “I thought Ms. Calhoun was going to faint when she was told the news!”

The magnet coordinator and extra money will enable us to extend the garden, add other environmental science programs, and hopefully attract enough students to ward off the co-location threat of charters. Our kids get matriculated magnet points in the mixed-up lottery system. But most of all, we get some well-deserved public respect.

Talk about public relations re-branding. I still run into people who say they heard the school is up and coming, but that it still isn’t a “great” school.  Most of those people have no real idea. They have never been on the campus, or if they were, they were scared off  by the wrong kind of “diversity.”  Maybe the magnet designation will motivate some neighborhood parents we haven’t reached to look a little closer, take a chance, send their child, get involved and fall in love with the idea of their local school, just like we did.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!!

The Win-Lose-WIN week Part 2

2013-05-12_19-03-13_983One of our bedtime rituals is to ask our daughters what was their happy moment of the day. The idea is to pick one thing that stands out that brought them happiness. They always find something good to share, or if nothing particular stands out, they just reply that the “whole day!” was their happy moment. It kind of misses the point of focusing on one thing, like seeing a rainbow or a beautiful sunset or having ice cream for dessert, but if they think the whole day was happy, then shoot, I’m happy for them. Of course, they always make me share my happy moment too and I don’t always have as easy a time coming up with something. Often, I am honest that the moment we are sharing then, as I sit on the side of their bed about to kiss them goodnight, is my happiest moment of the day. With that recognition, the stress of the work day or other personal anxiety provoking issues can melt away and I am truly happy.

Literally the day after we declined the spot at Community Magnet, I came home from work extra late, my husband having done pick-up, dinner, the bedtime routine (when I say routine, what I really mean is the repeated nagging to get in their pjs, brush their teeth, get in bed, etc.)  All that was left when I arrived home late was to go in to kiss them  goodnight and ask them their happy moment.  My older daughter’s happy moment was a new one and involved a longer explanation about how they met not one, but TWO kids that live across the street, unrelated to each other, that BOTH go to Carthay and that they played in the front yard and the back yard, until they were called home for dinner.  She was so excited about this new discovery that she had a hard time calming down to go to sleep that night.  In fact, the excitement continues. The boy is in her grade but in the other 3rd grade class across the hall and they have been saying “hi” to each other at school, while the little girl is in 2nd grade and has started coming over in the morning to walk with us to school, or catch a ride if we are running late. Now almost daily, both kids from across the street find their way to our yard.   Luckily, the kids that live downstairs from us seem open to the new visitors as well and our backyard has become a playground filled with laughing shouting kids, purposefully ignoring any adults making any demands on them about homework or dinner preparations.

The beautiful weather and the extra company makes it hard to convince our kids to come in the house. They do their homework on the steps, they ride around on scooters and bikes and shoot baskets, beg for ice cream from the passing ice cream truck and extend the day as long as they can.  An aunt of the 3rd grade boy comes over to fetch him for dinner and we introduce ourselves. We recognize each other from when I distributed neighborhood association fliers around the block last year and end up having a pleasant conversation.  I explain to her that our girls are so excited to find out that her nephew has moved in across the street as they are not used to having school friends live so close by.  “It’s like the old times”, the aunt says, “when all the kids in the neighborhood go to school together.”

“It sure is,” I reply, and I know what my happy moment of the day will be.

The Win-Lose-Win Week – Part 1

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Busy at work last Monday, my cell phone was on vibrate and a call was coming in and I didn’t recognize the number. When I finally had a chance to listen to the message, I was stunned. “Hi, this is so & so, from Community Magnet, we would like to offer a 4th grade spot to your daughter for the 2013-2014 school year. This is your first notice, you will get 2 more and if we don’t hear back from you by Wednesday, we will consider that a rejection and REMEMBER, if you do not accept this spot, you will LOSE ALL OF YOUR ACCUMULATED MAGNET POINTS!!!” She didn’t say it shouting, as the all-caps would imply, but she said it in such a chipper pleasant way that the content of what she she was saying, about losing all of our accumulated points, contrasted with the perkiness and came off sounding sarcastic and taunting. I assume the speaker did not intend to tease or taunt, but only was enjoying her job, thinking she was spreading good cheer with such good news- your child won the lottery and finally gets to come to our wonderful, very coveted school for 4th and 5th grade! But all I could think of was, there is no way our kid is going to agree to leave her school and there is no way this works with our life. Not only because of how dedicated I am to sending our kids to our local school, but our daughter is clearly enthusiastic herself about her school and has continued to grow into a very confident, thriving third grader. So, I already knew the answer before I discussed it with my husband and child, but it didn’t stop the frustration and angst bubbling up inside of me. We had won the magnet lottery and lost the magnet war of the crazy absurd LAUSD magnet point game, just as I had dreaded and discussed in a previous post.

The decision to turn down the spot and lose the accumulated magnet points didn’t phase my husband very much, while I, on the other hand, wanted to drag out the decision making process a little longer. I wanted to stew in the confusion. I really didn’t want to send her to this school, no matter how wonderful it was, so perhaps it came down to that I just didn’t want to let go of those dang magnet points!!! I wanted to store them up, hoard them really, to try to get her into LACES, the highly regarded middle school and high school right here in our neighborhood. If we sent her to Community Magnet, we just might get in – although several friends have attempted, while their child was graduating from Community, and they still didn’t get in – that’s how competitive it is to snag a spot there. As they assured me, if the only reason to change schools now was to attempt getting into the middle school of our choice, it probably wasn’t worth it, because it was still going to be a long shot.

So, I thought I would run it by my child to get her input. Maybe she was secretly bored at school, all of a sudden felt she had outgrown it, or wanted to try something new and explore her adventurist spirit that I know she has in her somewhere, and might really be ready for a change. She was curious when I told her that I had something important to talk to her about. “You got into another school for 4th grade,” I finally told her. “I did? You mean I am not going to Carthay next year?” Some parents would have said, “That’s right! You are going to a new school that you are going to LOVE,” and not asked for any input from their child, because as parents, we should know what our child needs, right?  In fact, I am pretty sure she would do fine at that school if we sent her, even if in 4th grade. Being so social, she would have made new friends quickly and enjoyed all of the extra extracurriculars that that uber bunch of parents help pay for, that I read about on greatschools.org and the school’s website. She might have been more academically challenged by being surrounded by so many kids that ace the standardized tests and enjoyed teachers who are fortunate to have classrooms full of kids like that.

But, rewind, we didn’t tell her that she had to go – we asked her what she thought about the idea. Would she want to go see the school? She was curious to see it, but really only if we were going to make her go. Otherwise, she didn’t think it was necessary. I told her that there might be more music, more art, more challenging academics, more everything, really, and she didn’t seem that impressed. So, I told her I wanted to hear why she wanted to stay at her school. She wrote me this list:

Reasons to Stay at Carthay

  • Carthay has a garden
  • My friends go to Carthay.
  • My sister goes to Carthay.
  • My dad is a PTA board member.
  • I know all of the teachers and I like the staff.
  • I live close to Carthay
  • I helped design the new play structure. *
  • I am in the student Council.
  • I like the after school progam and the STAR director.
  • I know at least one kid from each grade.
  • I feel comfortable at this school.
  • I am challenged enough.

(* really I think she just helped pick the colors, but clearly she feels she was part of the process)

I read the list over a couple of times and sighed a big sigh of relief.  The next morning, I replied to the follow up email, our  second notice/warning from that enthusiastic magnet coordinator, and graciously declined their kind offer.  Poof went our magnet points into the thin air.  Instead of feeling the pain of the loss of all those valuable points, I felt light and free.  I knew we had made the right decision.  And I am sure we made some other family further down on the list very, very happy.

Dear Neighborhood Parents

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This past Friday morning as part of our school’s kindergarten tour, Susan, our school’s fabulous parent spokesperson/P.R. representative, walked to the podium and spoke so lovingly, as always, about her experience at our school, but for the first time I have seen, she did so without getting obviously choked-up. Next, our resource coordinator, Aniko, presented a slide-show about our school’s extra-curricular and academic support programs. It was fun to see my kids and all the kids I knew up on the screen enjoying their school day. Fortunately, I arrived early enough before the program started, that I had the opportunity to schmooze with some interested parents, over coffee and pastries (is it true that we are the only school that serves refreshments at their tour?).

What a treat to meet these eager parents and some of their kids that came with them. Some of the parents/families I met live just beyond the Carthay Center Elementary school boundaries and are looking to permit in, while others I met lived across the street or a couple of blocks away. Still another couple said they work at nearby hospitals which would make it convenient for drop-off and pick-up. One mother admitted that she had gone to Carthay as a child and had recently moved back into the area. I even got to meet one of my blog readers from the neighborhood. (Nice to meet you!!)

Our school has a lot to brag about, but I also was honest with parents when they asked – is there anything that could be improved? Sure, we could have a little more money and a few more involved parents.  We may never be the kind of school that has high-end gala events with silent auctions, but parents and teachers are already striving to make this a better school and in the age of budget cuts more involvement and more money could certainly help us reach our goals.

I tried to see the school afresh through their eyes this morning and to me, it looked great: Susan and Aniko’s enthusiasm, the auditorium that has such classic character, the garden with its new pergola and lusciously filled garden boxes, a couple of happy free-range chickens, and the cheerful kindergarten playground, filled with happy free-range kindergarteners (maybe the chickens are more free-range than the kinder-kids, but both groups are obviously happy!). In the back upper-grade playground workers were busy ripping out the old play structures, evidence that the plan to renovate our outdoor space is actually starting and will be a reality, not just a dream.

I walked through several classrooms with the tour including my younger daughter’s former kindergarten classroom, where she started out at the beginning of the year.  My daughter was moved up to first grade in December after a couple of months of transition approved by our principal and facilitated collaboratively by her kindergarten teacher and her now first grade teacher. It was the the right decision for our child and the transition was done so well, that I was the only one who was emotionally effected by the move (my baby is growing up so fast!). My friends with kids at other more well-funded schools were surprised how easy the school made it for us to address our child’s educational needs. “You would have to fight for that at our school,” said one.  I also know of a second grader who was moved up a grade this year and a second grader who was moved back to first.  In addition, the school has pull-out groups for advanced reading and for reading assistance and an after-school homework club (but, we could always use more parents or neighbors to help with this!).  To me, this reflects on the attentiveness of our school’s administration, the flexibility of our teachers, and the community feel of the school.  Hopefully this also means that the teachers and administrators are not letting kids slide by or slip through the cracks at our school.   Besides it being a safe fun place to go to school everyday, it seems to me that the kids’ academic needs are being met.

Our school feels like a family – a little intimate community, where everyone knows your name (“Like Cheers, without the booze” Susan called it last week at the tour). No, we don’t have an orchestra or a yoga space in a fancy gym, but we do have a place where kids can come and feel at home. It is good to always be striving for more, raising more money, opening up opportunities for our children, and gaining more respect and support from the surrounding community, but it is also good to stop and appreciate what we already have. And we have so much.

So, dear neighborhood parents, stop your stressing about where your child is going to go to kindergarten! It causes wrinkles and grey hair and surely doesn’t help your kids, who would totally do great at our school. The extra money you save on gas driving your kid can either go into your pocket or be donated to the PTA, which we could use towards our programs. More importantly, the extra time you save on driving your kid across town or struggling to get them up early enough to catch the bus, could be used for you to slow down and breath or help out in the classroom or in the garden. You and your growing kids could sleep in an extra half hour or more and who wouldn’t love that? You know I sure do!

Come Visit!

It has been a while since I have written.  I know some of my followers don’t live locally, but there might be some folks out there in the neighborhood, who will read this and who are still stressing out about where to send their kids to kindergarten next year.  Don’t overlook the gem in your backyard. You can’t really judge a school until you come visit and see for yourself.

So, I am cutting and pasting the notice for our upcoming tours – one of which is TOMORROW! Please spread the word!

KINDER TOURS 2013

Would you like to join us on a Carthay Center Elementary School Tour?

Please try to find a time/date that works for you.  These are the ONLY tour dates of 2013!

Thursday, March 14 @ 8:45 am

Friday, April 5 @ 8:45 am

These are the only Tour opportunities at Carthay Center School. If you are unable to make one of the dates listed above, there will be no other chances for a School Tour.  We hope you can join us!

Carthay Center Elementary School has classes for children in grades Kinder – 6th, and also has a free Pre-K program for 4 year olds.

For prospective Carthay families:  

RSVPs are required.  You must RSVP if you want to be notified of any changes in time and date (although we do not expect to make changes, if there is an urgent reason to do so, we will make necessary changes and notify all those who RSVP’d).  

Please RSVP as soon as possible to SUSAN NICKERSON via email carthaysusan@gmail.com

We will meet our wonderful Principal, Ms. Calhoun, and tour the school campus (garden, Kindergarten playground, computer lab, library, etc) and briefly visit at least one Kindergarten classroom and another grade level classroom to observe while class is in session.

Allow approximately 90-120 minutes for the tour.

Did you know that Carthay Center’s API score is 816?

What Are a Few of Our Favorite Things at Carthay Center Elementary School?

  • Garden Science Program:  project based learning in our award winning Garden of Possibilities
  • Salad Bar – healthy dining with fresh greens
  • PE Program: parent-funded with PE coaches
  • CDI Dance:  A wonderful dance program & year-end performance at the Ebell Theater
  • Young StoryTellers:  Professional TV & feature film writers guide our students through the screenplay process, culminating in The Big Show with celebrity actors!
  • Field Trip destinations within walking distance (LACMA, Page Museum & Tarpits, Peterson Museum, Zimmer Museum, etc.)
  • A beautiful campus – Historic architecture and a huge open playground
  • Chickens in the Garden of Possibilities Chicken Coop
  • Recycling/compostng “Sustainable Schools” pilot program
  • Amazing & energetic Principal, Ms. Calhoun
  • Creative & Committed Teachers
  • Dedicated Staff

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