Going Back to School

USD alumna Wendy Ranck-Buhr with children


Imagine a school where students learn empathy and collaboration as well as reading and math. A school where creativity matters as much as standardized tests. A school where children discover not only how to read and write about the world, but also how to change it. That’s the kind of school San Diego Cooperative Charter School (SDCCS) strives to be — and one of two main reasons it was recently designated an Ashoka Changemaker School.

Located just down Linda Vista Road from USD, which two years ago was designated a Changemaker university, SDCCS employs a number of USD alums, including principal Wendy Ranck-Buhr ‘01 and primary lead teacher and inclusion specialist Kate Dickinson ’02 (BA), ‘06 (MEd) who also now serves as the school’s “change leader.” In addition, many USD faculty and staff send their children to the school.

One of those SDCCS parents is Chris Nayve ‘98, ’06 (JD), ‘07 (MBA) director of USD’s Center for Community Service-Learning and community engagement advisor for the Changemaker Hub. He spearheaded the effort to have USD nominate its K-8 neighbor for Changemaker status.

“The Changemaker designation is really for doing what we say we’re going to do as a charter school, which is putting progressive ideas into practice,” Dickinson says. “We’re on the cutting edge of a paradigm shift in how we’re looking at K-12 education.”

She’s helping to enlist a new generation of educators to advance this progressive agenda by advising current education students during weekly office hours in USD’s Office for Community Awareness, Service and Action.

Now in its 12th year of operation, SDCCS comprises a diverse enrollment of 420 K-8 students, including children with special needs. The school’s progressive reputation has created growing demand — and a waiting list long enough to justify opening a second campus last fall, led by principal Anthony Villaseñor ’99, ‘02 (MAT).

Dickinson (pictured, above) sees a logical reason for the appeal SDCCS holds for Toreros. “Our experience at USD was about putting research into practice. It was about being life-long learners and researchers and continuing to create the best possible experiences for students.” — Sandra Millers Younger

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