Oakland Charter School Profile: Community School for Creative Education

July 1, 2015

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Parents like Betty Ly and Bernadette Richards know how fortunate they are to be a part of the Community School for Creative Education (CSCE) in Oakland, CA.

"This is a magnificent place for children to be," said Richards whose granddaughter Raylene is in 4th grade at CSCE. "They get to be children at the same time as being students - it's a safe environment, and a warm environment. It's love at this school."

The Waldorf-inspired charter school serves students in grades K-8 in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood. The school's small size is part of what initially drew Ly to enroll her son, now in 5th grade, to CSCE.

"After being here for two years, I can say that because it is a smaller school, everyone knows each other," said Ly. "At a traditional school there are so many parents and students that often times you can't be involved in the way that you wanted to. This school gives me the opportunity to bring a lot of what I can do to the school community."

Ly is involved with the school in many different ways - ranging from organizing school activities like the Chinese New Year unity event to serving as vice president of the Parent Action Group at the school. In addition, Ly is actively involved in organizing several volunteer days in partnership with the Alameda County Food Bank for parents and students to take part in throughout the year.

"Parent involvement on all levels is very important - parents must support the teachers and students to make our school stronger," said Ly. "I am fortunate to have met some great people here who are very involved with the community - it makes me feel like we need to do something in any way that we can to try to make a difference."

Richards, who volunteers regularly to provide campus tours to prospective families, chose to transfer her granddaughter to CSCE because it provides opportunities for learning and engaging that have been cut from most traditional public schools.

"Oakland schools have been failing our babies," said Richards, a Bay Area native. "CSCE is making sure that our children are going to be successful in life. That is what I want for my granddaughter - a solid academic foundation that will allow her to pursue her life and grow. She doesn't have to be a statistic in Oakland in any way."

In addition to providing ample opportunities for students to develop passions in visual and performing arts, environmental causes, and foreign languages, the CSCE model of maintaining the same class and teacher in grades 1-8 has proven to be a valuable part of the school experience for Richard's granddaughter.

"It teaches them about creating and maintaining lasting relationships and bonds with their classmates," said Richards. "Instead of transferring each year and meeting new people and trying to fit in, they all grow together. The students all support each other and I've seen them rally around a student who is falling behind to make sure they all get their work done."

Richards adds, "At CSCE, we are not a school. We are a family."