WHO WE ARE
Learning Works is more than a school—it’s a movement. We have an approach to poor families that works, and a means to improve the city’s dropout rates. Our goal is to end poverty through education and the social/economic breakdown of families by ending the family dropout cycle. We realized the existing system just did not know how to re-engage, welcome or serve dropouts, so we started a charter school where the dropout is the customer. We see our role as advocates for the poor and disengaged, with one goal: all youth deserve a high school diploma.
The mission of Learning Works Charter School is to provide a personalized, rigorous academic program and relevant life skills to traditionally under served students in grades 7-12 who have withdrawn or are in danger of withdrawing from mainstream education without attaining a high school diploma. The youth we serve would inaccurately be called “at-risk.” They are, in fact, “in crisis” or have already demonstrated a behavior or condition that exceeds at-risk, such as becoming pregnant, dropping out of school or entering the juvenile delinquency system.
WHAT WE KNOW
Our school focuses on what works: engaging students through Rigor, Relevance and Relationships. We lead with relationships, offer rigor and build relevance into the curriculum.
Rigor: Deliver our students a rigorous academic program that is standards-based and provides the academic knowledge and skills needed to succeed. The school uses state-adopted texts and all students have access to A-G curriculum. All science courses require laboratory experience. We are a “physics for all” school. Our school is WASC accredited.
Relevance: Provide an applied learning context that takes students into the community through field trips, labs, internships and conferences. All courses require experiences and projects tied to the curriculum and student’s life. Every student must complete a Senior Project prior to graduation. Upon graduation, LW students have earned a high school diploma and the academic and life skills necessary to achieve further success in a career and higher education.
Relationship: Engage students to return and stay in school through caring adults who mentor, counsel and support students to success. Our students perform to high academic standards when there is an adult who cares about them. Our instruction is one-on-one and small-group to increase positive relationship opportunities and rigorous content acquisition.
WHAT WE DO
Learning Works is a laboratory for strategies that work to reengage disenfranchised youth back into education. We believe our lessons can be transferred to other public systems, including traditional schools. We chase dropouts, reengage them in education, and serve their needs to graduation.
Our Principles: Staff and students at our school practice a set of principles that are the cornerstone and culture of our school. All adults and students are to practice and model these principles: fresh start, forgiveness & unconditional love, safe haven, reality & potential, desire to give back and be heard, honesty, joy & fun, and irrational commitment to students.
Chasers: Our job position of “Chaser” has received national attention as a unique model to reengage youth in their education. Chasers literally chase students back to school to complete coursework and to graduate. Chasing includes coaching, mentoring and tutoring. Chasers are current college students who have come from similar conditions as the students we serve, including previous dropouts, juvenile delinquents and teen parents. They know the streets and work through youth in the neighborhoods with one goal in mind: graduation. They transport students to needed services, such as probation appointments, health services and whatever else might be a barrier to earning their diploma.
WHY WORK WITH US
There are very few people or organizations reaching youth in crisis or dropouts. We are irrationally committed to understanding the dropout problem, finding solutions and disseminating results. Our outcome data shows it — we are succeeding and producing graduates.
WORK WITH US IF YOU WANT TO:
• Replicate our model charter school for engaging high school dropouts based on rigor, relevance and relationship
• Develop a model pregnant-and parenting-teen academic and enrichment program
• Disseminate lessons learned to policy makers, administrators and teachers on re-engaging dropouts
• Effectively transition youth re-entering the community after incarceration
• Hire and train chasers in your community
• Engage youth in self-expression through art and science
• Create a regional “Drop-in Center” for youth who have dropped out