CACS celebrated a year of growth and renewal in 2012-13, finalizing construction projects, improving our academic program, and continuing our partnerships with the community of San Francisco. As we prepare our charter renewal application for the next five years, we took some time to acknowledge our progress in the past year.

One of the highlights of 2012-2013 was an increased emphasis on our arts integration throughout our classrooms. In the fall, we held our first learning exhibition, “Look, Listen, Learn,” featuring exhibits and student performances connecting humanities and the arts. Students in all grades participated in sharing their work in this evening community event. Student performances included dramatic reenactments of world leaders, readers’ theater about government, and kindergarten puppet shows of Aesop fables. Giant sculptures of San Francisco landmarks filled the halls, along with sewing projects, artifacts, poetry, videos, board games, and more.

Our Spring exhibition “Inquiry, Art, and Exploration: What is Art?” featured the sciences, including Design Thinking projects to solve water pollution problems, bird sculptures for the kindergarten bird watching adventure, student-designed organisms, and classrooms transformed into rainforests, along with exhibits by community organizations like the California Academy of Sciences. Overall, our staff’s increased emphasis on using the arts as a tool for exploring academic topics shined in these events demonstrating students’ deep thinking and creativity.

In other measures of academic success, our spring API scores from state-required testing showed an increase of 48 points, reaching 825. We implemented new internal assessments in reading and math that our teachers used to identify areas of student need and alter their instruction accordingly. We also continued our use of portfolios to demonstrate student growth for a wide range of skills, with narrative report cards that help students and families understand their strengths and areas of growth. All of these measures helped our staff shape goals for the coming year.

In preparation for 2013-14, our staff participated in a wide variety of professional development, getting training in Responsive Classroom (a program designed to support students’ emotional and social growth), integrating arts into elementary classrooms at Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teachers, the Bay Area Writing and Math Project at UC Berkeley, Writer’s Workshop at Columbia Teacher’s College in New York, science and sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences, conservation science at the San Diego Zoo, and digital media tools and storytelling techniques at the Adobe Professional Development for Educators. Our faculty members are excited to implement their new ideas and practices in their classrooms.

Family and community support of CACS continued this year, with fundraising activities ranging from our Fall Fair to our Annual Fund to our Spring Auction. Overall, CACS raised $210,873 over the course of the year through family and community support. In addition, staff raised $57,200 through generous grants from Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, Tides Foundation, Lowe’s Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, California Fertilizer Foundation, and Microsoft Technology Grant.

Equally critical to the CACS mission, family volunteerism supported the school in a wide variety of ways: coordinating events like the fall fair and spring auction, volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, completing construction and maintenance projects in classrooms, and developing our new school garden. CACS thanks parents and family members for their continued generous support of our school.

Another major milestone this year was the completion of improvements for our facility. Workers from San Francisco Unified School District completed ADA upgrades for our school, concluding a multi-year project that led to improved access throughout our site for our students and families with disabilities. In addition, they completed all fire-recover efforts following the neighborhood fire of December 2011. We thank the hard-working teams who worked tirelessly to make sure that our school could continue to run throughout the construction process. CACS also added a new school garden to our facility, creating a space of beauty and peace on our blacktop as well as an outdoor lab for teachers.

Overall, 2012-13 was a busy year for our staff and students. We look forward to equally exciting progress in 2013-14.