Learners Empowered to Take Ownership of Their Education at SCVi Charter School in Santa Clarita

SCVi Charter School in Santa Clarita

Faculty members from SCVi Charter School in Santa Clarita strive to empower their learners to take ownership of their education, noting that education should always “belong to the kids.”

This belief can be observed in the way school officials describe teachers as facilitators and students as learners, according to Matt Watson, host of SCVi Charter School’s Eye on the Valley on KHTS

“We are not teachers; we’re facilitators,” Watson said, “because the learning, the knowledge doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to our kids. The education belongs to the kids.” 

Learners can take ownership of their education through a project-based learning model that allows them to incorporate their passions into assignments regularly, according to SCVi/iLEAD Facilitator Kevin Becker. 

“One of the nice things about project-based learning…is that it becomes a tandem journey for us and the kids together,” Becker said. “People ask me if the kids are in charge, (do) they pick what they learn. No, but they get to pick more how they learn it.” 

For instance, more traditional teaching methods like essays are combined with creative projects that learners can pick for themselves in Becker’s English classes at the charter school in Santa Clarita. 

Becker is currently using a nonfiction book based on the story of a city that supported travelers impacted by the tragedy on 9/11 to focus on kindness.  

Learners have been asked to come up with a variety of recent acts of human kindness, which has included a man who paid for others’ drive-thru meals at McDonald’s and individuals who supported Orlando shooting victims. 

“Our question is, how can we learn about that and bring it to our community?” Becker explained. “They do have to write a standard APA-style research paper…but then afterwards they get to memorialize this act of kindness of theirs in any way that they’re interested in.”

Depending on what the learners are passionate about and enjoy, some have chosen to write songs, while others are making short films and creating paintings, comic books and mosaics. 

Becker pointed out that during his time in school, if he had been assigned only an essay topic, he would have written the paper somewhat begrudgingly before moving on to the next assignment. 

However, if he had been given the opportunity for a creative project as well, such as using his love of theater to create and perform a play based on the topic, he said the experience would have been completely different for him. 

“I would have been all about it and I would have learned so much more,” he said. “I think that’s why I love project-based learning and why I love being able to not be a driver, but to be equally in tandem with the kids.”

Learners at SCVi/iLEAD are not only encouraged to pursue their existing passions, but those who were struggling in more traditional schooling have also benefited from the unique approach of the charter school in Santa Clarita, according to Becker. 

“Sometimes kids need something different, and I think that we offer that difference in a way that is empowering and helps those kids who are struggling to find their purpose and struggling to find their path go, ‘Oh, I want to do this,’” Becker said. “Instead of (saying), ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that, I can’t help you,’ we can go, ‘Alright, let’s figure it out together.’”