Communitas Charter uses an integrated, inquiry-based, hands-on approach to develop students who know themselves and care actively for the world around them. This college preparatory school applies learning to real world experiences, collaborative projects, and personal reflection.
At Communitas every student is known well.
Communitas Charter High School will prepare a diverse student community for lives of integrity and wisdom by helping them develop deep conceptual knowledge, a global perspective, empathy for others, and the ability to make disciplined choices.
Communitas Charter High School will
- Broaden and deepen complex thinking skills;
- Improve every student's proficiency in meeting academic standards;
- Develop and sustain student engagement in school;
- Strengthen social-emotional growth; and
- Build practical life and learning skills.
Communitas aims to provide young people with a transformative educational experience, so that they come to know themselves deeply, to explore new frontiers with confidence, to possess empathy and wisdom, and to appreciate the numerous interconnections of our world.
Communitas follows the conviction that the best education will foster creative, intuitive, and relational thinking as well as cognitive, analytical knowledge and skills. It will also:
support both students and staff in becoming more aware of their own personal needs, learning strengths, and lifelong intentions;
- develop caring relationships by bringing together an educational family of students, teachers, staff, parents, and local friends;
model leadership for social justice and ecological responsibility by teaching the connection between personal choice and global consequence;
draw upon the wisdom accumulated over the entire human experience to support tolerance, understanding, and generosity toward people different from oneself; and
- help people work through the truly challenging questions of their lives.
Essential Principles at Communitas Charter
Communitas shares the philosophical approach of the widely respected Coalition of Essential Schools, founded in 1984 to articulate principles of high-quality education and encourage "radical school restructuring" to achieve those principles. It includes hundreds of schools and more than two dozen affiliate centers nationwide, including San Jose's own LEAD Center, directed by Marty Krovetz.
Studies of CES schools have shown that they engage students, promote high college attendance, develop social-emotional skills and intellectual skills, and perform well on standard measures.
The ten principles of the Coalition, all practiced by Communitas, are
Four particular principles have deeply inspired the vision for Communitas:
- Learning to use one's mind well
- Less is more, depth over coverage
- Goals apply to all students
- Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
- Demonstration of mastery
- A tone of decency and trust
- Commitment to the entire school
- Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
- Democracy and equity
1. Learning to use one's mind well
At Communitas using one's mind well means that students use all parts of their awareness to achieve understanding - body, intellect, feeling, conscience, and intuition. The intellect functions within a whole system and depends on the health of that system. Students need to feel safe, nourished, engaged, and well cared for before they can learn effectively. Physical energy, emotional balance, critical thinking, and moral inspiration all play important roles in achievement.
2. Less is more, depth over coverage
The best educational experiences come through deep, sustained experience in a particular topic, with time for reflection and revision. A well-paced program should feel less like a curriculum (which comes from the Latin for "race course") and more like a journey (which comes from "a day's travel"). By placing less emphasis on quantity of information, a school can significantly raise standards for receiving and applying that information in meaningful ways. Students are more likely to internalize these strategies for learning a breadth of information in the future.
3. Personalization Communitas is first and foremost a place where young people and adults come together to listen to one another. Such listening is always personal. It is also sometimes spontaneous, surprising, and difficult. The value of such experience is how it challenges false assumptions and transforms attitudes. Students learn far more effectively when they feel that their education matters directly to them.
4. Democracy and equity
Learning happens best in a place where the divisions of race, class, and culture do not create divisions of opportunity. This is not only a compassionate view of humanity, but a fundamental principle of communitas. All students will have their worlds broadened through exposure to different worldviews and different backgrounds. The promise of education to bring prosperity to a nation depends on access for all students. It is thus a basic goal of Communitas to achieve a student population that reflects diversity and equitable teaching strategies.