2017-09-14 / Inside Education

Charter school is now a part of educational landscape in County

Sports/Education Editor

A new independent study home schooling option is available in Mariposa County.

Chawanakee Academy Charter began offering services to students at the start of the school year. Chawanakee Academy Charter is based in O’Neals and is part of the Chawanakee Unified School District, but has branches or “resource centers” in locations in surrounding counties.

Chawanakee Academy Charter offers K-12 home school and hybrid home school, as well as credentialed teachers, field trips, enrichment programs, project-based learning and traditional and digital curriculum.

“We provide services for families in Madera County, Fresno County, Merced County and Mariposa County,” said Rhonda Corippo, principal at Chawanakee Academy Charter.

The Academy is Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredited.

The academy has been established for 21 years, said Corippo.

Rhonda Corippo Rhonda Corippo Currently there are 33 Mariposa County students enrolled in the academy, and students are signing up from as far away as El Portal. The academy is heavy with students in the younger grades at this point.

“We had heard there was a need with home school families to have a local resource,” Corippo said. “Families in Mariposa were driving to Merced, Modesto and Oakhurst for independent study home school.”

There are currently two teachers and a long term substitute available.

The resource center, or location where students and their parents/guardians can meet and consult with Chawanakee Academy Charter teachers, is located at the Mariposa Lutheran Church, 4469 Highway 49 South in Mariposa.

Meetings with teachers can be held weekly, biweekly or every 20 days. There is a wide spectrum of involvement that parents/ guardians have the option of utilizing from the academy from when it comes to their child’s education.

The academy even has what are known as “enrichment classes.” Enrichment classes can be computer coding or robotics, art and pottery or other specialized focuses. For example, Corippo said some students will soon be learning through a workshop that will be held by Connie Collins of Mountain Mudd, a local potter.

Students can also take part in field trips and outings, and in some extracurricular opportunities, including the academy’s drama club.

Corippo said many of the families who have enrolled students “aren’t families that have chosen the public school route.”

“The families that are in our program are from the home school community,” Corippo said. “Home school families wanted a place they could call their own right here in the community and not have to drive. We decided we could fill that need.”

Corippo explained the goal of bringing the option to Mariposa was “not supplant what’s already here but provide a resource where a need existed.”

“We heard that (there was a need) and it couldn’t be more true,” Corippo said.

Corippo said the feedback from the community has been “really positive and really desiring a commitment from us, that they really want to know that we’re not going to go away.”

Corippo said “people that have never affiliated themselves with a school have said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this because you sound like you’re going to be committed.’”

Corippo said as for the future outlook of the academy, “We’re happy right where we are with our numbers, but we’re here to provide a service and fill a need.”

“If we’re helping families have a community feel within their school setting, we will continue to provide,” Corippo said. “We’re definitely going to continue to provide services, whether (or not) we grow beyond 30 or 50.”

Enrollment is always open. Call (559) 868-4200 for more information or visit Chawanakee Academy on Facebook or at www.cacharter.org.

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