The CHIME Institute’s Schwarzenegger Community School is an independent public charter school approved by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). There is no tuition and entrance is determined by lottery. The kindergarten through 8th grade school currently serves 635 students who reflect the demographics of the surrounding region. Children who develop typically, children with special needs and children who are gifted learn side-by-side in the same classroom. The Institute initially named its elementary school after the California governor in 2008 after being recognized by First Lady Maria Shriver for its accomplishments. In 2010, the Institute merged its elementary school with its middle school, necessitating a new name for the newly formed school.
Practices Specific to CHIME Institute's
Schwarzenegger Community School:
Thematic and Project-Based Learning:
Project-based learning allows for discovery on a variety of levels. Through large units linked to the California State Standards, students develop a “deep” understanding of key concepts, make connections between content areas and practice skills needed to apply new concepts. In addition, students learn social and problem-solving skills as they work together.
In a co-teaching model general education and special education teachers are partners in teaching, planning, and assessment. This team approach brings a variety of strengths to the classroom. Teachers meet in advance of teaching to plan strategies to address the needs of each individual students.
By embedding them in general education classrooms, related
service staff—such as occupational therapists or speech
pathologists—provide targeted support for students with
disabilities that benefit all students. These experts
train the teachers to implement evidence-based strategies
to benefit all students.
Paraprofessionals are trained assistants who provide additional support in the classroom. Teachers and paraprofessionals work together to implement the instruction of all students. In addition, paraprofessionals provide the needed assistance of an additional adult to support students in small groups and individualized help. In the classroom teacher's absence, the paraprofessional can serve as the chief source of information for the substitute teacher. These partners become a critical component of the team as a whole.
Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support:
A proactive approach to supporting student behavior that is now applied in schools across the country, Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support has been a critical component of CHIME’s model from its inception. Expectations are taught and reinforced through the use of motivation, recognition, and careful analysis of misbehavior. Social skills and bullying prevention curricula are used and reinforced school wide. All students are viewed as key stakeholders who can help address school problems.
Administration, faculty and families come together to face
challenges head on. Family input is welcomed on a range of
issues impacting the school community, and families are
considered experts on their children. Partnerships with
families support school programs through a wide range of
volunteer opportunities. Recent Parent Association-led
activities provided funding for art and music programs.
The school has a parent volunteer-run library and an
outdoor classroom that is used for cross-curricular and
In the past nine years, more than 400 students from California State University, Northridge completed assignments that require observation and/or participation in a school setting. With evidence-based practices for education that are closely linked to those taught by university faculty, students report a close connection between research and practice. CHIME has systems established to facilitate university student involvement on a variety of levels, and a designated liaison between the charter school and the university, which makes the process efficient, productive, and successful for future educators and a provides an avenue for teachers to tap into the resources of the university.
Deep Learning and Block Schedule (Grades 6-8):
The curriculum is organized around central questions and themes which will encourage students to “uncover” the curriculum, taking the time required to construct meaning, all the while keeping in mind the necessity to adapt instruction for individual needs. Studying in depth reinforces our goal of helping the students know what it means to be a reflective learner, of what it takes to truly understand something. In order to be able to “go deep”, the CHIME Charter School
(Grades 6-8) has adopted a block scheduling format. Using block scheduling provides the time for faculty to integrate curriculum, utilize themes and discovery learning, individualize to student needs, and encourage creative thinking. This format will also ensure that faculty teach creatively and address multiple intelligences and various learning styles, rather than relying on a strictly lecture format. Faculty is encouraged to collaborate, co-teach, and provide instructional links between the various courses for students. Classes are designed on a block schedule to accommodate a wide range of abilities and to emphasize individual student’s strengths.
CHIME Institute’s Schwarzenegger Community School Honors:
Named “Charter School of the Year” by the California Charter Schools Association in 2004.
Recognized as “fast becoming a model for full inclusion and provides a blue print locally and around the country” by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005.
“Breakthroughs in Inclusive Education” honor from the international advocacy and civil rights organization, TASH, in 2007.
Featured in Unique Schools Serving Unique Students published by the National Center on Reinventing Public education in 2009.