In 2000, the original King-Chavez school, King-Chavez Academy of Excellence, was born out of community need in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego. The local public schools were failing as safe, culturally responsive places of learning. Options for students in grade 6 were especially limited; many children were bused out of the neighborhood every day.
Our school engaged both its staff and the community in its mission: to “seek excellence in academics, arts, and athletics from the foundation of love.” This sense of purpose manifested itself in concrete ways. During the first year of operation, no staff member called in sick; turnout at our parent events averaged 90% or higher. The community took notice. The school opened with 75 students from grades K-5. By the third year, we had over 300 students and the school was the most improved school in San Diego County as measured by the Academic Performance Index (API).
Our original vision called for making a quality King-Chavez education available for all the children in the neighborhood from grades Pre K-12. King-Chavez Academy of Excellence expanded to grades 7 and 8, and looked to add a King-Chavez High School with all deliberate speed. However, there was an educational crisis in the community that needed to be addressed first. King Elementary, a district school, was on the verge of being shut down due to poor performance. Parents started a grassroots signature drive to convert to charter, and looked to replicate the success of King-Chavez Academy of Excellence.
In 2005, King Elementary was restructured under No Child Left Behind as three smaller King-Chavez Academies: Primary, Arts, and Athletics. The dividends were immediate. The schools inherited an API score of 559 at the time of reconstitution, which grew by over 100 points during the first year and has exceeded 800 in subsequent years. These gains have received national recognition.
The King-Chavez Arts Academy sees the arts as a unifying force across cultures, languages, and curricula. This connection imparts meaning and context to the academic content standards. The arts are simultaneously the lens through which we view academics, and a vehicle to build numeracy, literacy, and higher thinking skills. Our Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program is central to the King-Chavez Arts Academy theme and to our Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs): Creative Expression and Self-Directed Learning. Students explore and reinforce English-Language Arts and mathematics via projects that transcend the Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical modalities.
- Scott Worthing