Caspar Creek Learning Community
The mission of the Caspar Creek Learning Community is to prepare kindergarten through fifth-grade students to be socially literate, to calculate and think logically and to read, write, and speak clearly. Students will be taught respect for the earth and encouraged to become life-long learners engaged in community life. This will be achieved through small class sizes, multi-age classroom environments, interactive learning with peers and staff, project based learning, developmentally appropriate use of technology, active involvement of parents and other community members, and the utilization of the natural habitat provided by the seven acres, adjacent to Russian Gulch State Park, on which our learning center is situated, as well as the surrounding Mendocino coastal area. Our learning community serves students and their families living on the Mendocino Coast.
The parents and faculty of the Caspar Creek Learning Community believe that the most desirable school experience, and education, happens in an environment where students are known individually and personally, where they receive direct, high quality attention, where their actual needs are being met, and where their potential is being realized. We want our children to grow and learn in an environment where they are respected, and taught to respect each other. The Caspar Creek Learning Community emphasizes social development, including teaching and practicing conflict resolution skills. Our goal is to lay the foundation for an education that helps our children grow into creative, truthful, compassionate adults who continue learning, and contribute meaningfully to society. Caspar Creek Learning Community has three full-time teachers, a part-time aide, and approximately forty students. We welcome the whole child (body-mind-spirit) into our learning community. In order to help each student reach their highest intellectual achievement, we strive to notice, care for, love, listen to, respect, support, and understand every individual, each of whom makes an important contribution to this community. Adjustments in lessons and daily routine occur often in order to address the varying needs and rhythms of our student population. Our morning circles are always a place for listening, understanding, and communicating.
A unique and important aspect of the Caspar Creek Learning Community is the attention we give to the underlying critical content of emotional needs. We believe it is imperative that children develop an ‘emotional intelligence’ (self awareness and a verbal ability to communicate feelings). By modeling and practicing skills of effective communication, children develop tools for social success. We use the ‘trust circle’ to solve those exquisitely difficult problems that can arise out of living together in an evolving, active, human community. The ‘trust circle’ is a commitment to solving problems through listening. We work to really listen and speak our true feelings without judging others. As the trust that we will not be judged or punished for our truth develops, a tremendous growth in ‘owning our own actions’ is witnessed. It is hard work. We also give our attention to the underlying issues of any, “I don’t want to read that book,” or, “This math is dumb,” responses. Energy for intellectual growth is most available for mastering whatever tasks are at hand when basic needs can be met and core emotional issues addressed.
We do not believe any one method or curriculum holds a perfect answer and solution for everyone. Rather than focus on a specific curriculum, we are observant of individual style, personal energy, and group dynamics. We tailor academic work to the needs of each learner. Caspar Creek Learning Community students work independently, in small groups, and in whole group lessons. In small groups, children practice cooperation and benefit from the excitement born of shared ideas. During our whole group multi-age lessons, children develop empathy, community interest, and social growth.