20th Annual California Charter Schools Conference Presents Hart Vision Award for Charter School of the Year to Lighthouse Community Charter in Oakland

March 13, 2013

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Contact: Vicki Grenz
(916) 949-9659

SAN DIEGO, California (Mar 13, 2013).--There are many tools for measuring a school's success, but Hart Vision School of the Year Lighthouse Community Charter (LCC) in Oakland looks at what may otherwise happen without their program. Of students from surrounding neighborhood schools, 37% of students drop out before graduating high school, of those left, only 25% enroll in college preparatory courses, and only one in four graduates from high school prepared for college or a career of their choice. Out of every 100 students in Oakland, only seven students graduate from college.

"High expectations, academic rigor, and a genuine focus on the whole child blend together at Lighthouse Community Charter," said Jed Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer of California Charter Schools Association. "The school provides an unparalleled educational program in an environment that respects and engages families and community."

The Lighthouse Community Charter School student population is made up of a diverse student body that comes from almost every neighborhood in Oakland, California. Boasting 95% of its three graduating classes having been accepted to a 4-year college, 9 in 10 of the students will be the first in their family to go to college.

The school-wide belief embraced by teachers, parents and students alike is that all students will go to college. Lighthouse success can be attributed to focus on the rigorous curriculum, whole child, family involvement and nurturing professional development of its teacher. Founded in 2002, the school operates under a co-directorship. Lighthouse is comprised of two contiguous schools, one serving grades K - 8 and the other serving grades 9 - 12.

"In order to advance to the next grade level, students conduct presentations to show their mastery of the work," describes Steve Sexton, Director of Secondary Programs. "This builds the confidence that helps a student envision a future of success."

"We work to involve families in meaningful ways, such as family learning events focused on literacy and math, Coffee Tuesdays where families can learn, and personal meetings with teachers three times each year," described Jenna Stauffer, Director of Strategic Development.

"Our program is focused on the whole child," said Melissa Barnes Dholakia, Director of Elementary Programs, adding, "We develop individual learning plans, create a culture of respect, caring, and collaboration, and make healthy meals available to all."

The mission of the Lighthouse Community Charter School is to prepare a diverse, K-12th grade student population for college and the career of their choice by equipping each child and youth with the skills, knowledge, and tools to become a self-motivated, competent, lifelong learner.

Past Hart Vision School of the Year recipients include St. HOPE Public School 7, in Sacramento and Gabriella Charter School, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles (2012); Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles and KIPP Bridge Charter School in Oakland (2011); Renaissance Arts Academy in Los Angeles and Life Learning Academy in San Francisco (2010); and Our Community School in Los Angeles and Oakland Charter Academy in Oakland (2009).

The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to recognize and honor annually individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.

The California Charter Schools Conference has run annually for 20 years, offering resources, guidance, and advocacy support to a charter school movement that has grown to more than 1,000 schools serving 484,000 students.

The award was presented at the California Charter Schools Association's 20th anniversary conference held March 12-14, 2013 in San Diego. For a detailed schedule of other sessions or events, please visit http://www.charterconference.org/2013/program/.

About the California Charter Schools Association
The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 1,063 charter public schools and more than 484,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to empower parents and educators to unleash a new era of innovation within public education so that highly autonomous and accountable schools of choice provide quality learning opportunities for all California students. For more information, please visit www.ccsa.org.

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