Frequently asked questions
A charter school is a public school that operates independently from its local school district and is still accountable for student achievement and operational performance. A charter school is funded on a per student basis from state and local education tax funds and is bound by a legal contract (charter) with its sponsoring district. However, it is exempt from many forms of state education regulation and is governed as an independent non-profit, with its own board of directors.
The Portland Village School is sponsored by the Portland Public School District. Our charter school proposal was approved by the PPS Board of Education.
Charter schools, as non-tuition based, government-funded, public schools, are open to anyone residing in the state of Oregon. If more students apply than there are spaces available, admission is decided by lottery. Priority is given to students residing in the Portland Public School district, but if spaces remain, students from outside the district are allowed to attend. Once a student is enrolled at the school, priority is also given to siblings. Age restrictions on public school students also apply to us.
The Portland Village School opened in the 2007-08 school year with grades K-4, and added a grade each successive year with the goal of having two tracks of K-8 which was successfully realized in the 2014-15 school year.
Our school is in North Portland at the historic Queen of Peace campus in Kenton Neighborhood. Our address is 7654 N Delaware Avenue. The site is about three quarters of a mile west of the Lombard exit of I-5, and is easily accessible by MAX and bus.
Educational approaches incorporating Waldorf methods are designed to be developmentally appropriate. The method is partly based on the question: what is the best thing to teach a child at each age? Rather than the question: how early can a child be taught each subject? Children are given tasks according to their readiness and not pushed towards the earliest possible achievement.
Our educational approach is also multidisciplinary, centered on a 3-4 week subject unit called the Main Lesson Block. At Portland Village School, academic studies are integrated across disciplines such as art, science, math, and history. For example, students in a seventh grade main lesson history block on the Renaissance Period might be studying the lives and times of da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rafael, whale at the same time creating their own "text books," complete with their own writings (in calligraphy) and drawings. Earlier in the day they might practice 3 part recorder music and recite poetry from the Renaissance, and later the same day, study the laws of perspective in Math class. The next day they would apply those laws in their own drawings and paintings.
Waldorf curriculum has a strong bent toward early-learning language skills including story-telling and oral traditions. This exposure, when integrated in lessons, serves to awaken the imagination and create a strong curiosity for successful introduction of reading and writing, in addition to introducing phonemic awareness through listening.
Many different types of children benefit from Waldorf methods. Because the lessons involve multiple intelligences (movement, language, drawing) children can enter into learning in several ways. That said, Waldorf methods involves a structured approach that is centered around whole group instruction, rather than individualized work or programs where children rotate around lesson centers. However, because the teaching style and curriculum is centered around a child's developmental needs, children tend to be actively engaged in their individual learning in the group setting. As one Waldorf methods teacher refers to it: "teacher directed, child centered."
One of the major strengths of this type of instruction is the sense of community and cooperation that develops within the class--an open community that invites children in rather than closing out new kids.
Does your school provide support for different kinds of learners and how do you support single classrooms for both "advanced" and slower learners?
While the lessons are whole class, different children can engage at different levels of complexity and/or progress at different speeds. For instance, grades 1 & 2 teachers offer ways to extend the Main Lesson for children who are more advanced to aid in their exploration beyond others in the group. For those needing extra support, individualized attention is offered by their teachers. In addition, parent volunteers assist the teacher with various reading groups.
Portland Village School takes inspiration from private Waldorf schools, but our principal model in designing the curriculum and classroom environment are the dozens of public Waldorf methods schools across the country. While the traditional private Waldorf curriculum serves as a framework, we have modified it to align with the Common Core State Standards for Oregon, as much as possible. We teach formal reading and writing earlier, and we are held to the same Oregon state testing regimen as all other public schools. We strive in the Portland Village School to ensure that these required annual tests do not intimidate or disrupt a child from their appropriate learning developmental cycle. Instead of instructing toward tests, our pedagogy puts great emphasis on ensuring that a child's learning and development holds primary influence on student performance.
It is important to understand that as a public school we cannot completely follow the strict, pure Waldorf educational philosophy as practiced at private Waldorf schools. The Portland Village School adapts a subset of the Waldorf educational philosophy, remaining as true to the ideals as practical within the public educational framework.
Our school is tuition free. We ask a fully tax deductible direct giving contribution from our families in lieu of individual activity or materials fees. We also have a fee-based after care program through Vermont Hills Family Life Center (visit www.vhflc.org for more information).
The Portland Village School's calendar approximately follows the standard Portland Public Schools calendar.
Our class times are:
Kindergarten: 8:30am - 3:00pm
Grades: 8:30am - 3:00pm
(Thursdays we release at 2:00pm in order to hold faculty meetings)
Our educational programs include:
- Foreign language (Chinese & Spanish)
- Music, both instrumental and voice
- Handwork, including knitting, sewing, and woodwork
- Movement for all grades
Other policies include:
- Dress code limiting logo-based and commercially explicit clothing exhibiting images of media characters or product commercial branding.
- Limited media access in school. Computers and television are not used in early grades; we provide educational information on beneficial effects of limiting screen time and encourage parents to limit their use at home to non-school days only.
- We are a junk food free campus.
We are close to public transportation. Students at our charter school will be able to use existing PPS bus routes, but the district will not institute any new routes to transport students to and from our school. We also work individually with families who need support arranging transportation.