Community Journal: Charters achieve synergy on shared campus

Community Journal: Charters achieve synergy on shared campus

Bara Waters
Community Learning Center Schools

Photo by Robert Cassard.

Sometimes the third time is the charm – at least, for Alameda public charter schools Nea Community Learning Center and Alameda Community Learning Center. Both schools have been shuffled around in recent years, but are settling in for the long term with an 11-year lease at their new location in the former Woodstock Educational Center at 1900 Third Street.

“There’s a really positive feeling at this new location,” said Jake Powell, a facilitator, or teacher, of social sciences at ACLC. “Each school has its own distinct space and program, but there’s also a cool synergy between us because we can share resources, ideas and generally support each other.”

In spite of a summer filled with helping their schools move and settle in, learners are also enjoying their new campus.

“It’s awesome because we have grass courtyards and get to use the Boys & Girls Club gym,” said Nea 8th grader Holly Teeters. “The learners are pretty upbeat because it’s going smoothly and they feel like they’re getting a fresh start."

ACLC 11th grader Ryan Kelley-Cahill said it only takes a few days in a new place for the school to feel like itself again.

“Webster Street and the new Target shopping center are close, and the College of Alameda is really convenient for classes we take there,” Kelley-Cahill said.

Over the past few years, these two schools have experienced something akin to musical chairs. In 2011, the Alameda Unified School District split Nea’s original K-12 program, housed at the former Longfellow campus, by moving grades K-5 to the former Chipman Middle School campus. In 2013, the district relocated ACLC from its 18-year home on the Encinal High School campus to the Wood Middle School campus. And this year, the district moved all three campuses to a new location on Third Street.

“Relocation and staff changes can be challenging for kids and schools,” said Annalisa Moore, Nea’s interim lead facilitator. “But our enrollment has held remarkably steady despite these changes. We’re honored that it’s our programs, not the places, that our families value.”

Patti Wilczek, executive director of Community Learning Center Schools, Inc., the schools' charter management organization, said the move, new students and staff has re-energized the charter organization.

“Thanks to the dedication of our staff and families and our schools’ strong community spirit, moving has ultimately strengthened us. And, the new campus is exceeding everyone’s expectations – it’s all good,” Wilczek said.

ACLC (grades 6-12) and Nea (grades K-12) are tuition-free public charter schools in Alameda, managed by Community Learning Center Schools, Inc.. While each school has a distinct culture, curriculum and focus, both are progressive and project-based educational communities based on a democratic model that empowers learners.

Bara Waters is an Alameda Community Learning Center parent.

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Submitted by Jim Nations (not verified) on Thu, Sep 4, 2014

As a parent of two learners, I am very happy to see our schools get permanent campuses. I look forward to all of us coming together to make it our own - to learn, flourish and have fun!