NAPCS is using the Charter Blog to feature public charter schools that prepare students for college using a range of instructional strategies. NAPCS asked school leaders to tell us in their own words how they use different instructional methods to create a “college-prep” focus. By combining data on instructional strategies from a national survey with on the ground stories of the work of charter schools, NAPCS wants to show the scope of possibilities in how charter schools can provide great learning environments for students.
Sheridan Japanese School (SJS) is a public charter school in Sheridan, Oregon, a rural town with a population of 6,165, with 53.6 percent economically disadvantaged and 77 percent first-generation (parents without a four-year degree). SJS is a multi-aged school serving 88 students from grade 4-12. SJS is a unique blend of family atmosphere and academic success where students who appear unsuccessful elsewhere flourish; students on IEPs learn how to take small steps to advance their education, and students who excel are pushed to take responsibility for their advanced learning. SJS embraces shared leadership. All stakeholders: students, student council, parent council, board, staff, community members, and director believe that all students will be successful. Everyone is responsible for the success of SJS. Among the 17 core values, respect and trust between teacher and student, and among students, is a high priority. The older students tutor and act as role models for the younger students. In tandem with caring for each other, one quality of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is focused on each month, then reinforced throughout the year as other concepts are added. Students learn to take care of their environment by cleaning the school each day, and parents volunteer to clean on the weekends. A sense of family is attained through families and their students helping each other, such as parents mentoring parents new to the school, picnics, parent nights, and Undokai (game day), for example. Another core value, high academic standards, is delivered through Advanced Placement (AP) and other advanced classes. Every student must take Japanese language and culture classes and participate in a yearly Japanese speech contest. The Japanese teacher runs a 2-week summer immersion camp, which any student in the USA may attend. A student from North Carolina attended this past summer. The grade of D is not given, but a student is given personal tutoring outside of school hours to help him/her succeed. Opportunities for giving to the community, another core value, are facilitated through students’ volunteerism at meal sites, the local food bank, raising money for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the local library, and many more. SJS opens it doors to the community with taiko drum concerts, Obon Festival, and exhibitions. The teachers use Build Your Own Curriculum to customize instruction for relevance and high standards for the students. The Director personally creates each student’s schedule with his/her needs in mind. Teachers meet to discuss students, as well as publish their phone numbers in case questions arise outside of school hours. Teachers run tutoring sessions after school to insure student success. SJS requires conferences in the summer, fall, and winter with 100% participation. Ninety-five percent of the seniors go on to a two-year or four-year college. Of the three seniors who graduated last year, one received $17,000; one received $48,695, and one received $7,050 in grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and other awards. A quote from one of the students best exemplifies SJS’s success: “I truly believe that SJS has provided me with an excellent preparation for college through global education. I have had the privilege to attend a school that provides an unparalleled opportunity to interact with instructors and other students in an intimate environment.” Jan Smith, Sheridan Japanese School Foundation Board Member (Secretary); Kathryn Bervin-Mueller, Executive Director www.sheridanjapaneseschool.com Find Sheridan Japanese School on the Public Charter School Dashboard