We first learned about Sequoia Big Picture High School when we received a notice that a community meeting was planned for Thursday, January 23rd at 7:00 pm at Bethany Lutheran Church in Menlo Park. So we decided to find out more by talking to two founders/steering committee members, Charlene Margot (right) and Sally Stewart.
Charlene is familiar to Menlo-Atherton High School parents as the founder and program director of the M-A Parent Education Series. Portola Valley resident Sally Stewart spent a total of 38 years on local school boards. They are both passionate about the idea for this new charter high school, which they hope will open in Fall 2014, although they admit that’s an aggressive timetable.
Guided by Big Picture Learning, a national non-profit with 100 schools across the U.S., Charlene and Sally explained the proposed charter school is designed to more fully engage students, personalize their education, and help them take responsibility for their learning.
“In the Big Picture model, kids become their own self advocates and learn how to use mentors and develop relationships with adults,” said Charlene, whose children graduated from M-A. “It is self advocacy that lead kids to success, in my mind.”
Added Sally: “The kids are involved in their own learning. No other school has two day a week internships built in. Students research and create the internships. It’s a win-win — for the students and for the local businesses where they intern.
“It’s also about the redevelopment of curiosity. By the end of second grade, we’ve taken the curiosity out of kids.”
Currently, founder/steering committee members are fundraising and building community support. The goal is to launch Sequoia Big Picture High School with about 100 students, divided between freshmen and sophomore classes.
The community meeting on January 23rd will feature Mario de Anda who is Director of Post-Secondary Programs for Big Picture Learning and students from MetWest, a Big Picture Learning High School. There will be ample time for questions. Organizers request that people interested in attending register for the meeting online.
Photo by Irene Searles