A Proposed Inquiry and Community-Based K-8 Charter School for Portland Public Schools

What we are about:

Our mission is to provide students and educators with an inquiry and community-based educational program that will build on children’s natural desire to investigate the world. Children are intelligent, creative, and resourceful, and we aim to foster their innate scientific explorations.

Under this approach, Emerald Charter School students actively participate in the learning process, connecting the community with their educational experiences and bridging the link between children as contributing members of society. Teachers encourage children to ask authentic questions and to develop and pursue meaningful, real-world investigations. Teachers assist students in linking knowledge with their new ideas and information. Reading, writing, math, social studies and art are integral to the children’s experiences as they cycle through the scientific method.

The Emerald Charter School is based on four core values:

Community Building – We value and believe that each person, student, staff, and family are a resource to contribute to our community, building a foundation where each person is respected for who they are, what they believe in and what they can contribute to better our society, making it more sustainable and attempting to address environmental issues that surround us in Portland.

Respect and Nurture - We will build a community of learners, comprising students, staff, and families that respect each other, our environment and the world. We aim to nurture all of these members and create an environment in which respect is the foundation of every interaction and experience in our school.

Excellence – We commit ourselves to success through continual improvement. We will provide the resources, support and skills necessary for every student to achieve measurable success and reach their highest individual potential.

Diversity – We believe that within the world, our society, and our community of learners that diversity plays an invaluable role in the educational experience for all involved. Diversity strengthens our community; we must value and appreciate what each of us bring, who we are, where we come from, and our experiences to the community. Diversity will be recognized, respected, and encouraged.

Who we are and how we got started:

A group of parents and educators wanted to create an environment that fosters the connection between school and community, learning from real world experiences, based on the educational interests of the students.

The process first began with the notion of increasing student learning and achievement at our neighborhood schools. We asked ourselves: How can we support the school district and support the needs and interests of children in our community?

We thought the charter model could address our concerns and bigger picture goals with two main goals at heart throughout the process.

  1. By looking at how children learn effectively, one must consider current teaching practices. Are we teaching students how to learn, or are we giving them a series of rote exercises to get them through the next series of tests? We feel that we can better serve our children, and they can better serve our community and our world if experiencing the information through hands-on investigations and through expressions of art, such as painting, clay and drawing.

    The teacher and the student are co-researchers in the process of learning. By making connections with children-what they know, where they live and what they can contribute-they grasp a deeper understanding of the world and how it works. Learning is at the heart of these connections and the inquiry/community model can foster learning strategies that will last a lifetime.

  2. By Providing professional development to other educators throughout the district through the use of this model of learning and teaching.

Where we plan to be located:

We plan on locating in inner North or Northeast Portland.

School Details:

We will open the first year with 80 total students, 20 multi-age students per class. The school will have four classes educating children grades K-3. The school will eventually serve students in grades K-8.

How to get involved:

We need all of you to make this happen-ask yourselves the following questions: Are the current practices sustainable? Where will our children fit in the world as independent, creative, problem solving humans when they are lacking the process and ability to think, comprehend, understand and create their own meaning?

Join us in creating this change for our children and our community.

  • Contact us at outreach.emerald@gmail.com
    We are looking for letters of support, survey participants and volunteers to help us with our outreach efforts. Please email us for more information about how you can get involved.

  • Attend a focus group. Contact us for the upcoming dates.

Please take our new survey (even if you filled out the old one) here

Please copy and print out our letter of support (or download and print out copy from here
) and email it to us at emeraldcharterschool@gmail.com

Dear PPS School Board:

Re: Emerald Charter School

I am writing to express my support and interest in the Emerald Charter School. I encourage and value a school that demonstrates Emerald’s Mission: To provide students and educators with an inquiry- and community-based educational program that will build on children’s natural desire to investigate the world. Children are intelligent, creative, and resourceful, and we aim to foster their innate scientific explorations.

This is an important and valuable educational option for our family and others within our community.



Signature Date


Name (print full name)


Street Address

_______________ _____________________________________

Zip Code Email Address


Neighborhood School


Phone (optional)


Demographic information (This information is optional. Please consider answering as it will help us to ensure that we reach a diverse population.) Demographic information will be kept confidential.

Please circle the option(s) that best describes your ethnicity:

Caucasian African American Hispanic Asian Other:

Please circle your household family income:

$20,000 and under $20,001-35,000 $35,001-45,000

$45,001-55,000 $55,001-70,000 $70,001-85,000

$85,001-100,000 $100,001-125,000 $125,001 or more

Are you interested in volunteering? Y or N

I would consider enrolling my child / children in Emerald. Y or N

Emerald Charter School (ECS) has several exciting things to inform you of.

1. ECS was awarded non-profit status from the IRS. Yea! This means we can begin the development of grant writing.

2. Oregon Department of Education has reviewed our application and deemed it acceptable to begin mediation with PPS. This process will start at the beginning of June.

3. The grant we received last year from the Oregon Department of Education has changed its phasing cycle. The short story is that we now have access to $55,000.00 of grant funding, instead of the original $25,000.00, until the application has been approved. Because the additional funds are available, the Emerald board has decided to begin several processes to further develop our proposal, our education plan, and our board development. We are beginning to do the following items with some of the additional funding.
A. Contract with a grant developer to begin searching and potentially applying for grant money to further assist us with having a solid financial plan.
B. Begin the search for a "community organizer." The organizer will help us focus our plan and keep our process rolling in a positive direction, gaining momentum and strength.
C. Search and enroll in curriculum and education courses related to community and inquiry based education to further develop our understandings of this work.
D. Search and enroll in board development courses to assist us in having a stronger board.

We look forward to continuing our work with PPS and we are excited to receive your support in that. We would like to increase the number of people we have on our development teams. If you have experience in, or an an interest in, curriculum development or planning, community outreach, financial planning, or marketing, we would welcome your expertise. Additionally, Emerald is seeking local organizations and businesses that will partner with us; please let us know if you are involved in or have contact with potential Emerald community partners.

If you are interested in joining our efforts in a more hands-on way, please email us at emeraldcharterschool@gmail.com.

Emerald Charter School Board