By Doug Oakley
Bay Area News Group East Bay
Enrollment in Berkeley's first charter school is almost full, and the newly formed organization is signing a lease for a building on the city's west side, according to Executive Director Victor Diaz.
Realm Charter School, a free public school, will start in September in a 28,000 square foot building at 2023 Eighth St., Diaz said.
|The Realm Charter school is on the west side of Berkeley at Eighth and Addison streets. (Photo By Doug Oakley)|
In its first year the school will have just one class of sixth graders, which is already full with 100 students, and one class of ninth graders, which has 92 students enrolled, Diaz said. After that, the charter will add two classes each year until it has a complete middle and high school with 100 students in each grade, he said.
Realm is holding a public meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Eighth Street site to introduce the school to neighbors.
Teaching at the school will have an emphasis on hands-on learning and technological design with traditional classes like math, English and physical education.
Diaz said each classroom will have interactive light boards that can project the Internet on a screen where an instructor can highlight items on the screen with a touch of a hand. It also will have a media lab where students can tear apart and build video games and computers and construct models and robots, Diaz said.
"We're going to use project based learning and design thinking," Diaz said. "This is really innovating, cutting edge stuff in education."
He said much of the curriculum ideas will come from the K-12 Lab at Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. The 10 teachers Diaz has hired will go there this summer for training, he said.
The school plans to spend $800,000 remodeling the Eighth Street site before classes start in September and the Berkeley Unified School District will kick in $150,000 for furniture and equipment.
In the second year, the school plans to move its high school students to classrooms currently under construction at Berkeley Unified School District's West Campus building a few blocks away on University Avenue, Diaz said. Also in the second year the school district will pay an additional $75,000 for more furniture, according to a report to the Berkeley school board.
At the West Campus site, students of the charter school will have access to the gymnasium and Realm is hoping to use the swimming pool there too.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley