Proposed Walla Walla Public Charter School to Present at Community Forum

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – July 23, 2015 – The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) is excited to share that this evening, the Washington State Charter School Commission will host a public forum for Willow Public School, a proposed project-based learning charter middle school in Walla Walla. The public forum will be a key opportunity for parents, local residents, and other members of the community to learn about and provide input on the proposed public charter school.

Since October 2014, founder Daniel Calzaretta has worked closely with WA Charters as a participant in the WA Charters School Leadership Program. The WA Charters Leadership Center serves as a charter school incubator and is grounded in the belief that leaders and educators are the cornerstone of effective schools. Leaders work in partnership with communities to design high-quality school models in order to dramatically impact the lives of children, families, and communities in Washington.

To date, 100 percent of submitted school applications supported by the Leadership Center have been authorized to open. These are schools designed to serve historically impacted communities and better serve kids with models based on proven practices.

“Charters are part of a range of solutions in the public school system helping to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education,” said Thomas Franta, CEO of WA Charters. “With one in every five Washington students not graduating in four years, the state charter commissioners need to hear from parents, families, and community leaders about why it’s so important to bring more high-quality public school options to our state.”

“From its inception, Willow Public School has set out to serve a diverse student population that reflects the Walla Walla community, and WA Charters has unwavering confidence in Calzaretta’s ability to deliver on a school that will equip students with the 21st century skills needed to succeed in four-year colleges and have the full range of opportunities beyond.”

Calzaretta, a seasoned educator, has been teaching since 1990. In 1993, he co-founded and directed Pacific Crest Community School (PCCS), a project-based learning school in Oregon. PCCS has been recognized for its innovative and personalized approach, including receiving an Exemplary Alternative Educational Program award from the Oregon Small Schools Association.

Calzaretta moved to Walla Walla in 2000 to work in the Alternative Education Program at Walla Walla Community College. He has taught in the Whitman College Department of Education, and most recently taught at Walla Walla’s Pioneer Middle School from 2007-2015, where he has used project-based instruction exclusively.

“We are opening Willow to offer more opportunities for kids in our community. Families in Walla Walla will have a personalized and innovative middle school option that will prepare students for honors and AP courses in high school,” said Calzaretta. “This will set our students on a path to college and career success. Willow is deeply rooted in the community. We’ve incorporated ideas from parents and students, and Willow will reflect the needs and desires of families. Willow Public School will be a place where learning is joyous, has purpose, and engages kids.”

Project-based learning gives students the knowledge and skills they need by actively exploring real-world problems, working for an extended period of time in the classroom to investigate and respond to a complex question or challenge.

The public forum for Willow Public School will be held Thursday, July 23, 2015, from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. PT at the Walla Walla Housing Authority Gym, 501 Cayuse Street, Walla Walla, Wash., 99362.

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About The Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters)

WA Charters is a statewide nonprofit organization that partners with communities to advocate for and support the startup of high-quality public charter schools, with a focus on serving academically and economically underserved communities. WA Charters focuses on four key areas of support: providing information about charter schools; supporting leaders to grow high-performing public charter schools; advocating for law and policy changes that are in the best interest of students; and providing the critical support and services to help charter schools operate successfully.

About Charter Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

For more information, please contact Maggie Meyers at: maggie@wacharters.org.

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