The mission of Larchmont Charter School is to provide a socio-economically, culturally and racially diverse community of students with an exceptional public education. We foster creativity and academic excellence; our students learn with and from each other in an experience-centered, inquiry-based learning environment. With participation from our entire community, we strive to instill in each student a dedication to improving the world we inhabit.
We believe that every child in America should be able to attend an excellent public school that reflects the full diversity of his or her community. This, after all, was the opinion of our Supreme Court more than 50 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education. Yet, this promise is still not a reality for many students in Los Angeles. We believe Larchmont Charter School can help fulfill this promise for children in our communities.
To this end, we focus on achieving excellence in three interrelated strands:
- Diversity – Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the world. In order to best prepare our children to be participants and leaders in a 21st century community and a global economy, it is our responsibility to give children the opportunity to learn with and from a student population that mirrors our broader community. We do this by recruiting a diverse student population; teaching tolerance, positive interaction, and appreciation of various communities from an early age; and promoting the values of social justice and diversity.
- Community – We believe our schools are not isolated entities in our neighborhoods, but instead are an integral part of the broader community. As such we place a particular emphasis on family involvement in our school community and on teaching our students to take interest in and responsibility for their critical roles in the broader social fabric. By bringing the community into our schools and engaging our students in the community around them, we help our students make deep connections between themselves, their families, the city at large and communities beyond their city borders.
- Achievement – We believe all children can unlock their individual genius and achieve their full educational potential. As such, we develop a rich constructivist curriculum that seeks to connect every child’s experiences and guide them in continual growth as learners. We treasure the development of a richly woven educational tapestry infusing the basics of English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies with music, art, foreign language, physical education, and performance. Our curriculum is progressive, hands-on and experience-based. Children build and deepen concepts through the use of concrete manipulatives and experiential learning, and our curricula draw on the work of John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Reggio Emilia, Jerome Bruner, and Lev Vygotsky. Students receive differentiated instruction in response to their varied interests and strengths. We believe this integration of rigorous educational expectations with a research based constructivist curriculum enables our students to meet their full potential while also mapping various routes to lifelong learning.
We fulfill our mission by:
- Providing a challenging, constructivist learning environment, with the arts, sciences and physical education integrated into the standards-based curriculum, that inspires independent thinking, imagination and a passion for learning.
- Maintaining and supporting our diverse student body.
- Teaching our children that they are citizens of the world; creating policies that embrace equal opportunity and the dignity of others; and encouraging the members of our entire school community to be engaged and active in society.
- Nurturing a unique community that includes families, teachers, staff and other community members who are active participants in the education and social and emotional development of our children.
- Giving teachers time, resources, support, and autonomy to: a) continually develop their pedagogical skills in a collaborative, professional learning community; b) create, evaluate and refine curricula; and c) ensure that all students have every opportunity to achieve.
- Using opportunities in and out of the classroom for peer mentoring, multi-age instruction and socialization.
- Instilling a community-wide dedication to volunteerism and family participation so we have adequate support, resources and funds to offer a rich and varied educational program.
- Promoting active communication between the school and the students’ homes, and providing meaningful family education programs.
- Creating partnerships within the community, the charter school movement, the school district, and with other educational institutions, including helping other charter schools as they develop.
- Creating a sustainable organization that functions at a consistently high level and attracts highly qualified professionals to ensure the long-term viability of the school.
- Ensuring that our students learn to communicate effectively, seek to understand, share and care, take responsibility and persevere.
In February 2004, a group of parents convened in their neighbor Lindsay Sturman’s back yard to discuss creating an alternative neighborhood school within the Los Angeles Unified School District. At the time, their existing local elementary school in the Hollywood area lacked diversity, was overcrowded, and was under-performing. The group wanted much more for their children and the community. They wanted the school to reflect the racial and socio-economic diversity of their neighborhood and Los Angeles at large. They wanted a more progressive, constructivist curriculum and academic rigor. And they wanted to harness the energy of families, educators, and the surrounding community by making volunteerism a pillar of the school. Larchmont Charter grew out of a dream.
Partnering with fellow Harvard alumna Dvora Inwood, an experienced educator who recently had received a Masters in Education from Stanford, Lindsay and fellow co-founders Heather Boylston and Rebecca Hutchinson united a team that would make Larchmont Charter a reality. Along with a group of passionate and dedicated Founding Parents, the team lived and breathed Larchmont Charter from that first planning day in February 2004. They worked with LAUSD, wrote the charter petition, found a school site and refurbished it, raised funds and were awarded grants, reached out to the community to recruit a diverse student body, hired teachers and a principal, and developed a Board of Directors with a wide range of expertise. In all, dozens of families donated more than 30,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $1 million, and received unanimous approval of their charter petition from LAUSD’s Board of Education.
Larchmont Charter opened in September 2005 as a K-2nd grade elementary school with 120 students. The school remains steadfast in its commitment to the Founding Parents’ original dream and the co-founders have a rotating seat on the Board to ensure the mission they set forth is fulfilled.
Inspired by the success of Larchmont Charter, a second group of parents led by Marya Francis and Jay Owens approached the leaders of the original school and asked for guidance and support in opening a sister school. The result was Larchmont Charter School-West Hollywood (LCW), a separate K-8 charter school, which opened its doors in September of 2008.
With Larchmont’s expansion, the dream grew. The community now wanted to offer every Larchmont student a path from kindergarten through 12th grade. Larchmont amended its charter to include a high school, and in 2011 the LAUSD School Board approved it. Still, students from Larchmont Charter-West Hollywood would be unable to attend the high school without going through a new lottery. And so, in the spring of 2013, the two schools merged into one Larchmont Charter School, so that every student at either the original Larchmont Charter School or Larchmont Charter-West Hollywood would be able attend the new high school.
Larchmont Charter is a shining star of the charter movement, is one of the highest-performing schools in Los Angeles and has been the inspiration for numerous diverse, progressive charter schools across Southern California.
Today Larchmont Charter School has over 1,400 students enrolled in grades TK-12 across four campuses. Larchmont graduated its first senior class in June, 2016.