Founded by a group of dedicated parents and community members, Willow Creek Academy received its first Charter from the Sausalito Marin City School District in the spring of 2001 and opened its doors in September, 2001. The Charter was renewed for five years in 2004, and again in 2009.
The school founders wanted to create an atmosphere of choice within the District, and Willow Creek was created with a philosophy and belief that inquiry driven, project-oriented learning would provide District residents, as well as out of District families, opportunity to participate in their children's education. As a Charter School, Willow Creek welcomes families from anywhere in California and, while the majority of its students live in the Sausalito Marin City School District or other communities in Marin County, students have come from as far as Fairfield and Vallejo because parents found the school to be a good fit for their child.
Starting with 37 students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade in September 2001, Willow Creek grew through the next years to a population of almost 300 children enrolled for the 2012-13 academic year. The first eighth grade class graduated in June, 2006. Our graduates are now having successful experiences in a variety of public, independent and parochial high school settings.
Several features distinguish the Willow Creek charter school experience from a traditional District experience:
- Parent involvement is a condition of enrollment. Families sign a contract guaranteeing to provide a minimum of 50 hours per school year in volunteer time to the School. This support can be manifest in a variety of ways from working in the classroom to driving on field trips to assisting at fund raising events.
- Willow Creek is the beneficiary of an extraordinarily diverse student body. There is no significant majority of any specific socio-economic group. As a result,students of a variety of backgrounds and beliefs learn to work together and support each other.
- As a relatively new school (2012-13 is our twelfth year) and a small school, parents,students and staff have a strong voice in the direction the school will follow. Working with the Willow Creek Board of Directors (in addition to being a public school, Willow Creek is also a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), parents and staff, and sometimes students, are able to shape the school in the image that the community desires. Rarely does one have this opportunity in public education.
What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school that provides instruction in any combination of grades, kindergarten through grade twelve. Parents, teachers, or community members may initiate a charter petition, which is presented to and approved by a local school district governing board. The law also allows, under certain circumstances, for county boards of education and the State Board of Education to be charter authorizing entities.
Specific goals and operating procedures for a charter school are detailed in the agreement between the charter authorizing entity and the charter developer. A charter school is exempted from many of the statutes and regulations that apply to school districts. Students enroll in charter schools on a voluntary basis.
Are charter schools part of the public education system?
Yes. Charter schools are under the jurisdiction of the Public School System, as specified in California Education Code Section 47615.