Opal Charter School
A Public Elementary School (Grades K–5)
About Opal Charter School
The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking … and a hundred, hundred more. – Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the early childhood centers in Reggio Emilia, Italy
Opal Charter School is grounded in the belief that education opens opportunities for all children to participate in creating and shaping their own lives and to contribute to the quality of life around them. We value the creativity, interests, ideas and questions of the children and adults at our school. We practice listening, observing, inquiring, staying attentive, and reflecting together with children and families. We value the role of the arts and sciences as languages for thinking, expressing ideas, and communicating stories. We are committed to working in partnership with families to provide a rich and joyful childhood.
Opal Charter School’s guiding principles for teaching and learning keep the school a living and vital place. They are the core beliefs about teaching and learning from which all school experiences are born. No principle sits in isolation. Each is connected, influenced and shaped by the others. They support an instructional approach based on listening and relationships. Our guiding principles are inspired and influenced by the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy; research in the field of neuroscience, and constructivist practices in the U.S. and beyond.
Children as Protagonists: Children are competent, resourceful and creative with imagination and curiosity about the world around them. They come to school full of experience and wisdom in their natural approaches to make meaning of their lives.
Children as Collaborators: No child lives or learns in isolation. A child is always in search of relationships. Children learn and become themselves through interaction and relationships with other people, ideas, objects and symbols.
Children as Communicators: Children make their thinking visible to us in many ways, including words, drawing, numbers, dance, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, drama, music and more. Children use many kinds of materials to discover and express what they know, understand, wonder, feel and imagine.
Children & Adults as Researchers & Co-Creators: Our school is a learning community where children and adults collaborate as researchers to co-create and document experiences that have originated from their relationships, challenges and choices. Teachers are engaged in continuous discussion and dialogue. They collect raw data and use this information to plan, prepare, provoke, assess and inform the community of the school’s practices, learning, and outcomes.
Families as Partners: Parent participation in the life of the school is essential and takes many forms. The exchange of ideas between families and teachers is vital to development of a learning community. Families have the potential to bring vitality and richness to the school by contributing distinctive life experiences and wisdoms.
Strong Academics Connected to Quality Relationships: A strong academic program is best supported within a system of reciprocal relationships among people, ideas, the natural and built world, and the content and skills of the disciplines.
Culture of Respect: Respectful agreements and boundaries support the need for physical and emotional safety and order as they are identified, discussed, practiced, and experienced within a culture of listening, dialogue, and exchange between children and adults.
Environment as Teacher: The design and use of space encourages encounters, communication, and relationships. It informs children and adults about possibilities. There is order and beauty in the arrangement of space, equipment and materials.
Documentation as Communication: Careful attention is given to the collective work of children and adults by transcribing dialogue, taking photographs, and making visible the ideas of children in many media. Documentation informs both children, teachers, and the public of children’s learning strategies, group learning processes, and learning outcomes. By making the powerful ideas of children visible to the public, children truly become citizens.
Organization as Foundational: The well-designed use of space and organization of materials, schedules, and curriculum are essential to the creation of a school community, where creativity, imagination and learning thrive.
To be eligible for Opal Charter School in 2013-14, children must be 5 years old by September 1, 2013 to enter Kindergarten and families must live within the Portland Public School District boundaries by August 1, 2013. Proof of age (with a legal document, such as a copy of a birth certificate or passport) and proof of residency (such as a copy of an utility bill) are required.
Opal Charter School students are selected through an open lottery process. For the 2013-14 school year, the lottery will open on March 1, 2013 and close on March 31, 2013. Lottery applications, available on-line or at the Museum’s box office, must be received (not postmarked) by 5pm on March 31, 2013.
Lottery applicants will be notified of the placement status in April and invited to tour the school in May. Due to the large number of lottery applications each year, tours are only available to families who are offered placement.
Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum
4015 SW Canyon Road
Portland, OR 97221
Opal School is an equal opportunity organization that does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital status, national origin, or mental or physical disability.