Starting a new school with a new approach is a worthwhile challenge.

Operating a school is a challenge. Opening a new school with a completely different approach to education is doubly so.

In the first three months of school, we have seen some real success. Our food program is one of the most innovative in the state. In fact, we were the first charter school to be mentioned in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction's newsletter last month! Congratulations to our food director Heidi, and fantastic kitchen staff of Laura and Rhonda.

Another big win was the outcome of the Supreme Court case. Charter schools are entirely constitutional in Washington State. 

Also, we have kids and families who love the relationship-based nature of the school. Since we are small, no kid can fall through the cracks. One scholar told me last week that even though he loves the school, it is hard to get away with anything here!

We have also experienced challenges. Some scholars have left because they feel Willow is not the right setting. One benefit of charters is providing choice to families. While we are sad to see any scholar go, we fully support them in finding the right learning environment.

  Willow Scholars visit city council chambers for a discussion about student government.

Willow Scholars visit city council chambers for a discussion about student government.

   Heidi McFarley   , Food Program Coordinator is teaching a class on spices (everyone enjoyed the spices at lunch).

Heidi McFarley, Food Program Coordinator is teaching a class on spices (everyone enjoyed the spices at lunch).

   Emily Asmus   , Social Studies Teacher gives a hands-on lesson on mummification. Yes, chicken can last forever.

Emily Asmus, Social Studies Teacher gives a hands-on lesson on mummification. Yes, chicken can last forever.

We are also working to implement project-based learning in all classes. Ms. Joelle is doing an invention project in science class, and Ms. Emily and Ms. Andrea are doing a media and writing project in Language Arts and Social Studies. Ms. Emily is also mummifying chickens with kids as part of the Ancient Egypt unit. We are getting there!
 
Kids are also starting to take the lead in several areas. Several scholars have asked about starting a student council. Ms. Emily and I took a group of scholars to city hall where we discussed options for student government at Willow. Also, the school modified its dress code after very well-reasoned requests by scholars (kids can now wear any color shoe with a non-skid sole, black or navy blue shirts or coats, and brimless hats). 

The reason we opened Willow is that we recognize many kids need a different approach to school. We are on the road to fulfilling our vision so that every scholar can lead courageously, think boldly, and dream bigger.

Daniel Calzaretta