August 1, 2014
It is not very often that anything or anyone lasts 90 years. I am very proud to say that the 2014-2015 school year marks the 90th anniversary of Carpenter Community Charter as a neighborhood, public elementary school in Studio City. Since 1924, this great school has welcomed all neighborhood children through its doors with a promise to nurture, challenge and prepare them to one day be productive citizens. This school which began as a high school, until North Hollywood High was built, has been continuously upgrading and improving through the years to maintain a high quality education. On our 90th year, I am very proud to say that the Carpenter staff continues this tradition in a way that would make the teachers and administrators of Carpenter’s past very pleased.
With the support of our Carpenter Governance Council, teaching staff, PFC and the hard work of our amazing parents and guardians we all can look forward to the following exciting additions:
- Digital grade books implemented by all K-5 teachers
- New Doodle Zone for ALL students to emphasize visual literacy skills in main hall
- Additional Kinder classroom teacher (fourth consecutive year)
- Additional Fourth Grade classroom teacher (fourth consecutive year)
- New laptops for all teachers
- A new dance teacher
- Two concrete ping pong tables on the playground
- Freshly painted play areas on the main playground
- Full implementation of LAUSD’s Technology Plan - 1:1 student to iPad ratio (K-5) in January 2015
- And more!
Each year brings change to our staff as teachers retire, relocate or take a leave of absence for personal reasons. There is extreme competition to recruit the best and brightest educators to fill vacancies. I am delighted to announce that this summer Carpenter was very successful at recruiting outstanding talent. We feel strongly that the additions of Mrs. Kristine Shahine in fifth grade and Mrs. Nzingha Thompson in fourth grade will make our team stronger than ever. Both of these teachers are thrilled to join the Carpenter community. In preparation for their new teaching assignments Mrs. Shahine and Mrs. Thompson attended the National Conference of Singapore Math as well as the Write...From the Beginning expert training over the summer. Their attendance at these conferences illustrates their commitment to our school initiatives and their desire to be future leaders on our staff. These new staff members will make a positive impact on our school for many years to come.
This year marks the fifth, and final, year of our charter. I am often asked if Carpenter has benefited from being a charter school. My answer to that question is a very emphatic, YES! Over the past four years, our school Academic Performance Index (API -a number ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000 which reflects a school’s performance level based on the results of statewide assessments) has increased from 912 to 943. In addition our similar schools rank, which compares individual schools to 100 other schools in California with similar demographic characteristics, educational challenges, and opportunities, has improved immensely. The APIs for each group of 100 schools are ranked into ten categories of equal size, called deciles, from one (lowest) to ten (highest). Each decile contains 10 percent of all of the 100 similar schools in the comparison group. I am very proud to announce that since 2010-2011, our similar school rank has increased from a 2 (bottom 20%) to a 7 (top 70%). We would not have been able to achieve growth in our API and similar school rank without our charter. The additional funding, hiring flexibility, and shared leadership have directly impacted our ability to meet the needs of our students.
Since this is the final year of our charter, our governance council has been working over the summer to develop a new plan of action for the next five years. Currently we are preparing proposals for both Charter renewal and another autonomy model known as Pilot. The reason for developing two proposals is because each model comes with its own set of attributes and accountabilities that seem to fluctuate from year to the next. As a result, we have decided to leave our options open for as long as possible and make a determination once we have a clear understanding of any new developments to each of the models. I encourage everyone to attend our Council meetings or stay informed by reading the Council’s meeting minutes on our website and get involved in this change process.
I consider it an absolute honor to work at this historic school and serve this community. It amazes me to think that for the past nine decades a new batch of children have come to this school eager to learn, make friends, and have fun on the playground. My staff and I are looking forward to welcoming your children to their neighborhood school. In addition, we are eager to collaborate with all community members to ensure that this school continues to be a beacon of public education for another 90 years.
Joseph P. Martinez