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Planned new school hopes to raise money, interest

Posted: August 17, 2012 5:08 p.m.
Updated: August 17, 2012 5:08 p.m.


Hoping to bring a new educational model to the Santa Clarita Valley, Heartwood Charter School is hosting its first official event this weekend.

The school is inspired by the Waldorf educational model, an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the arts into the learning process, according to Leigh Hart, one of the event’s organizers.

The curricula isn’t offered at any of the existing charters in the SCV, according to local district officials.

With a Saturday fundraiser at The Egg Plantation in Newhall, the school hopes to raise money to help pay initial costs.

The traditional classroom is slightly different from the Waldorf model, which often keeps a teacher with the same group of students from kindergarten through eighth grade — in addition to providing a focus on the arts, Hart said.

This blend helps bring the class and teacher much closer, she said.

“What it does is really look at several fundamental things,” Hart said, explaining the school’s planned approach.

”There’s a deep respect for the child, a deep respect for the child’s growth and capacities and a belief that all the arts need to be intertwined into the curriculum.”

Having the same instructor for several years can really help build a positive learning environment, Hart said.

“The advantages are that you (the teacher) really get to know the child, you really get to know the parents and it’s a real community.”

Hart brings decades of experience with local education, as well as with the Pasadena Waldorf School, a private school that practices the model that Heartwood plans to follow.

“When I was a parent here, the teacher was able to give me information that I couldn’t have gotten from anyone else about my child,” said Diane LaSalle, director of enrollment for the Pasadena Waldorf School. “(The teachers) have a long-term perspective on the child.”

Currently, only one district in the Santa Clarita Valley has charter schools: the William S. Hart Union High School District. Saugus Union could be one of the first districts approached by Heartwood, according to Leigh Hart.

The school plans to start by offering kindergarten to third grade and gradually expanding, she said.

While anyone may bring a charter school plan before the board, there are specific criteria that need to be vetted before approval may be granted, according to Saugus Union school board President Rose Koscielny.

“They have to follow educational guidelines and financial guidelines, but they can set their own curricula,” Koscielny said.

But she also encouraged anyone thinking of a charter to make sure they study up on the requirements before a presentation is made.

“Anyone who’s thinking of starting a charter school has the right,” she said. “But every time we get a charter presentation that doesn’t meet the requirements, it costs the district a lot of money.”




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