Gabriella Charter School: Learning Through Dance

September 29, 2011

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Gabriella Charter School offers students, families and the community of Echo Park a rigorous standards-based K-8 academic program with music, visual arts and daily one-hour dance instruction. With an 875 API, Gabriella Charter School is the highest performing public school in Echo Park. Gabriella Charter School attributes its success to their unwavering commitment and relentless expectations that all students can and will succeed.

In memoriam of her daughter, Gabriella Axelrad - who perished at the age of 13 in a car accident- Liza Bercovici founded an after-school program in the inner-city of Los Angeles called Everybody Dance! in 1999. In 2005, due to community demand, Liza decided to open a K-5 public charter school with an integrated dance focus. Gabriella Charter School opened it doors in the MacArthur Park community to continue the legacy of Gabriella Axelrad by coupling rigorous academics with daily dance instruction to promote a passion for learning and commitment to academic excellence in underserved student populations.

"Our mission is to serve disadvantaged students and to close the achievement gap," said Bercovici. "Dancers hold themselves to very high expectations - we take that and apply it to academics as well. We have very high expectations for all our students."

In 2008, LAUSD recognized Gabriella Charter School's success and invited the school to expand to serve K-8 and relocate to Echo Park to share an elementary school campus with Logan Elementary School. Gabriella Charter School's relocation to Echo Park is the first long-term charter co-location in LAUSD. Gabriella Charter School has continued to excel and serves a diverse population of students - 89 percent are from low-income families and over 50 percent are English-language learners. The success of the co-location has resulted in both public elementary schools - Logan Elementary School and Gabriella Charter School - making continuous academic progress. In particular, Logan Elementary School has increased by over 50 points since the co-location commenced proving that co-locations stimulate healthy and productive competition benefiting all students.

"Focus is on academics and enhancing academics through dance and using that as a vehicle for success." - Chippy Zuniga, Dance Coordinator

"I taught for seven years in a giant urban school district. People had very low expectations of the kids and it was very frustrating. And I wanted to work somewhere where everyone had the same vision and everyone believed the kids could be successful. I found that at Gabriella Charter School." - Lisa Ronney, Principal

"My four children have thrived at Gabriella Charter School because of everything the school offers from dance to academics." - Nancy Gomez, Parent

Gabriella Charter School
1435 Logan Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Founded: 2005
Number of Students: 420

  • 2011 Music Center Bravo Award
  • 2010 Title I Academic Achievement Award
  • 2008 Insight Innovation School Award
  • 2007 Siart Foundation Charter School Excellence Award
  • 2006 Los Angeles Magazine: "60 Great Schools"

This is one of a series of profiles about high-performing charter schools in Los Angeles that are participating in the latest round of Public School Choice (PSC). The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board passed this historic initiative in 2009 to reform the operation of new schools and turn around the lowest performing schools in the district. PSC allows non-district school operators - like charter schools, teacher teams, and community groups - the opportunity to run these schools. More than 30 schools have gone through this process to date. Find out more about Public School Choice and read profiles on the other charter applicants.

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