In late Summer 2012, a group of Bay Area education entrepreneurs, who had worked on behalf of students from London to Oakland, realized we were in the same place, separately dreaming about what a revolutionary school might look like. So we decided to start dreaming and planning together, and we agreed to be ambitious. We didn’t want to limit ourselves to common definitions of “school.” So instead of “either/or,” we thought about “both/and.”
From the perspective of a student, we asked:
- What if school could be a place designed for me AND for the whole community, where I could take my own learning pathway AND help others along their pathway?
- What if school could be a place where my classes were structured AND joyful, where I worked my heart out—not because I was scared, but because I was passionate?
- What if school could be a place that taught me the basics AND taught me how to love learning, a place where I aced my state exams but also learned how to design new computer programs?
With these dreams in mind (and heart), we created Caliber Schools, a new Bay Area-based Charter Management Organization (CMO) planning to open its first K-8 school in 2014.
We chose Richmond, CA as our first location after meeting with many parents, educators, and community leaders there who shared our belief that Richmond was ripe for a college-preparatory K-8 school that would become a hub of innovation. Ultimately we aim to span all grade levels from K-12, serving a total of 5,000 students in two to three Bay Area communities.
Our mission is to equip students with the knowledge, character, and skills they will need to succeed in their future colleges, careers, and communities. We believe that in order to achieve this mission we must significantly redesign the traditional school through innovative uses of staffing, scheduling, and technology. We aren’t going to get new results with old ways of thinking.
Core components of our school model
- High Expectations: All students will leave Caliber on the path to college graduation.
- Personalized Learning: All students will have Personalized Learning Plans that affect what, how, when, where, and at what pace they learn.
- Continuous Improvement and Innovation: All staff will use data to improve existing practices, share best practices, and design new practices.
- Exceptional Teaching and Instructional Leadership: All staff will have the skills and development support to ensure their students achieve growth that exceeds that of similar students in other schools.
- Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum: Our curriculum will be a combination of Common Core-aligned literacy and math in blended environments and deep, project-based learning modules that students complete in teams.
- Supportive School Community with Rights and Responsibilities: Our students will take care of one another through peer tutoring, family-style lunches, and diverse, cross-grade “houses” that will give students opportunities to share and receive support.