About The School

The Episcopal School of Los Angeles is a coeducational day school serving students grades six through twelve.  Established in Hollywood, our location will allow us to serve the heart of the city.  We opened in the fall of 2012 with sixth through eighth grade classes and add a class each year until the first class graduates in 2017 (in 2014, we will admit 6-10th graders).

The Mission and Purpose

The mission of the Episcopal School of Los Angeles is to create and sustain a campus devoted to nurturing souls and minds in an intellectually rigorous and spiritually curious academic community.

The purpose of the school is to enable young people to thrive in an atmosphere of diversity and to become ethical leaders in communities of faith, the nation and the world.  All work will share the same goal: to manifest and embody what it means to be both a person who loves to learn and a person who responds to what they believe in with his/her words, faith and action.  In the Anglican academic tradition of honor, respect, integrity and joy we will lift up what it means to be a community at work, study, play and service.

The Need

It is the belief of ESLA that solutions to the education dilemma in the City of Los Angeles can be found at the intersection of need and opportunity.

At present, the people of Los Angeles are faced with a public school system that is unable to support and challenge our students, yet less than 30 years ago, this same system was one of the finest in the country today. The charter school system in Los Angeles is unproven at present but it represents hope for a portion of the population lucky enough to gain access. Our parochial school system primarily serves targeted religious communities, yet also reaches out to promising students in need who would otherwise be overlooked. And our independent school system serves the top tier of the city and continues to slowly broaden its access to gifted students.

The Episcopal School of Los Angeles (ESLA) is founded to target this intersection of need and opportunity and to offer a new model. It is not the “silver bullet” for the public system. It is not a single solution for a traditional independent system.  It is–in a city defined by the entrepreneurial spirit–a new way of making a traditional model more expansive and inclusive.  In time, it will be a model and a resource to enrich both the public and independent systems.

Knowing that a 21st-century school must prepare students for a 21st-century marketplace, ESLA’s diversity on every level—economic, racial, religious, geographic—will result in a cultural balance essential for a 21st-century classroom. At the same time, ESLA believes that most effective standards for achievement come from holding every student accountable to the highest standard of academic rigor, personal responsibility, community engagement and intellectual, physical and personal achievement.

The model of access for only the very wealthy to the very best schools no longer results in the most competitive environment for preparing students for future social and economic realities. The charter-school model of access through the lottery systems and the need for rapid growth in order to sustain the financial viability of schools offers a significant challenge to the reality of building a competitive atmosphere of achievement. The model of only looking after one population along the lines of race, religion or socioeconomic background limits the scope of learning that can be achieved within a community.

Our Model

ESLA challenges the current system, structure and systemic complexities of middle and secondary education in Los Angeles. It is a school designed to address these issues:

  • How can we create the most rigorous academic program that will be accessible to every student regardless of background?
  • How can we create a community that plays upon the gift of diversity that exists in our city and allow our students and families to learn not only in the classroom, but also in community?
  • How can we foster an intellectual environment that allows for strong foundational tools in reading, writing, thinking and research and create learning spaces that allow for technological innovation, creativity, invention, new ways of thinking, doing, learning?
  • Finally, how do we do all while fostering a deep sense of service from our future graduates, with the knowledge that no matter where they come from or what they have or have not been exposed to, that much is expected of their future?

Our approach to these issues:

50% of our operating budget for tuition assistance

From the beginning, we have a goal of 50% tuition assistance for our students, the largest assistance program of any independent school in the city.  This will enable us to draw together a student body, faculty and staff that reflects the face of the city. It will also require us to build an enormous population of supporters from outside the school, people who are interested in our mission and intrigued with the idea of becoming involved in the education conversation.

To be very clear from the beginning, this focus on tuition assistance is about creating a tuition blind school, open and available to any student capable and willing to do the work.  Unlike other programs, the resources we use for tuition assistance will not come primarily from regular tuition and fees but from outside funding sources.

Extended School Day and Community Life

The school day is long. Students will be on campus from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will complete the majority of their class work at school under the watch of teachers and staff.   Students will grow into this long day and have options to leave early in the middle school years.  We are well aware not only of other afternoon obligations, but the challenge of so many hours on campus.  As a student grows into our system, they will find this long day not only helpful in terms of academic demands, but an essential part of their community life and formation.

Arts and athletics will be a daily part of the program to foster a well-rounded student who understands and values integrating arts, ideas and health into their academic endeavors.

Teachers and teaching assistants will be present on campus creating “a boarding school during the day.”  Offering on-site assistance with classroom work in the afterhours, coaching sports, managing study hall and sponsoring student activities, our teachers will mentor and provide a space that is both challenging and affirming.

Leadership and Service

ESLA seeks to engage young people in a life of public service, and holds the firm belief that all students need to be exposed to and trained for lives of both service and ethical leadership.  Today, many colleges, universities and even secondary schools tend to encourage specialization and fragmented knowledge, even as the questions of local, national and global leadership become increasingly interconnected.

ESLA believes that students should not only master a subject, but also understand how that subject matter is integrated into larger questions. We believe that young people need to be exposed to a wide breadth of academic, social, athletic, artistic and service-oriented opportunities, allowing them to reach outside of their natural inclinations and learn to lead and find consensus in the modern world.

Our service program is not simply about sending students into the work to volunteer a certain number of hours before graduation.  Our program is built to integrate service and the ideas of global and local need into the daily life and academic program.

Tradition and Innovation

Uniforms, common meals, a high expectation for community and personal behavior, chapel time, and the long school day are all pieces of the traditional nature of the community. Along with a classical academic program, ESLA will stand out as a school with roots hundreds of years old. This sense of gravitas and place is a way of not only helping young people to take their part in community seriously, it is way of gracefully preparing them for a competitive marketplace in the future.

Every time we define “technology” and “innovation,” we bind ourselves to ideas that are inevitably already outdated. Part of the challenge of our program of innovation is to foster a space used as a laboratory, a playground, a place where students can use both their skills, strong understanding of ethics and ability to be creative as “digital natives.”

Our technology plan, in essence, is oriented toward uncapping a program to be constantly expanded, questioned and renewed—a laboratory in the fullest possible sense. Rather than building technology around one faculty member or one physical space, we will build a community of teachers and a physical plant that is constantly engaged in making both lessons and learning spaces innovative and creative–the cutting edge.

STEM

Part of our core curriculum is The STEM Institute (science, technology, engineering, and math).  The STEM program uses project-based learning to inspire creativity, invention and discovery. The Institute engages both the hearts and minds of young people so that they find higher-level academic work fun and compelling. During our summer and after school program in 2011-2012, our students will participate in two major projects. In The Great Roller Coaster Build, they will build their own coaster, analyze the success of their design through computer simulation, and learn introductory concepts in engineering and physics. In Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink, students will examine the technologies of different water filtration systems that are deployed in the developing world. Using real case studies Water, Water… will introduce students to concepts in biology, chemistry, problem solving, and environmental issues around the world and right here in Los Angeles.

STEM will be an essential tool in middle school to help our students begin to engage higher-level work in these four core areas.  This approach will allow us to build a more rigorous high school program that extends the cross-curricular work and allows our students not only to succeed but also to engage their academic work with a strong foundation not only for logical problem solving but creative invention.

Ethics

A young person’s ability to make decisions and understand how what they believe is played out in how they engage the world stands at the center of a school’s life.  In a generation where innovation and technology grows at an exponential pace, academic institutions must constantly engage the changing nature of the ethical landscape.  From the rise of social networking, to the rapid-fire development of high-tech tools in the workplace, the questions that confront a young person, while daunting are also important opportunities for serious academic work.  As we look back through history to build a strong core ethics program, our focus will be on the future.  What will our students face in their personal, professional, and even spiritual lives when it comes to the changing nature of ethics in our local and global society?  How will we equip them with the intellectual and personal tools to deal with those challenges?  These questions are tremendous opportunities for the hearts and minds of our faculty, students and families.

An Episcopal Program

Episcopal Schools are for students of all religious traditions as well as those students raised without a formal religious life.  The Anglican tradition (which exists beneath the umbrella of the Episcopal tradition) has shaped the academic world for hundreds of years, beginning with Oxford and Cambridge, Yale (in moments), Harvard (at times), St. Paul’s School, Groton School, St. Albans…the list is long.

This tradition is less defined by definitive and eternal answers to theological, ethical, historic, and future-oriented questions than it is built on a foundation of disciplined exploration of those questions. Deeply rooted in the rhythm of daily prayer and community time, the best parts of the tradition speak to the deepest needs of a teenager: to engage not simply their minds, but their hearts; to challenge their assumptions; to take their passions and convictions seriously, and to help them shape their future decisions; finally, to always and simply be present to their victories and their struggles.

Episcopal schools are not simply places that build the intellectual and moral leaders of our country, they are schools that offer a student a real and enduring sense of the holy, the sacred. They are communities that prepare a student for adulthood, for moments of significant challenge and genuine celebration. Episcopal school graduates know that no matter where they come from or where they will go, the community they were a part of did not instill fear, guilt, dogma or obligation, but rather forged a commitment to the constant engagement of the heart, mind and soul.

In a time when raising up young people is fraught with challenge, the boundaries and beauties of this Episcopal tradition allow us to reach out to our community in ways that illuminate the best of its legacy.

The Plan

  • We plan to open our school doors in 2012 for students in the 6th, 7th and 8thgrade.  That event will cap a serious of ramp-up steps that will begin in June of this year.
    • Summer 2011, we will offer two three-week sessions of The STEM Summer Institute for rising 5th, 6th and 7thgrade students. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is a program built around project-based learning intended to inspire creativity, invention and discovery in the context of a fun project that engages the hearts and minds of a young person. Our plans include:
      • Building a rollercoaster
      • Cleaning LA River water with two shakes
      • Creating a solar-powered oven for the first-ever footprint-neutral bake sale.

These are the lessons that light students with curiosity and wonder and prepare them for success.

  • During the 2011-2012 school year, we will extend this STEM program into an after school program for current 5th, 6th and 7th graders.
  • Fall 2011, we will go through our admission season for the 2012 school year for rising 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.
  • In addition to the STEM program, we plan to sponsor a lacrosse program in Griffith Park that will be a part of the LA Lacrosse League.
  • We also plan to offer a swimming program.
  • The site for the summer and after-school program is located in the Southern California Assistance League in the heart of Hollywood. One of the oldest organizations in Southern California, this four-acre property offers us classrooms, indoor athletic space, outdoor athletic space, and a pool.
  • As we work out of our temporary site, we are working on purchasing a long-term site just a few blocks away.
  • In September of 2012, we will open our doors to 50 students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade.   At that time, ESLA will offer 50% tuition assistance to those students in need. Our students will come from all over the city and reflect the racial, religious and social diversity of this city.  This bold vision will allow us to offer a new way of thinking about school.
  • By the fall of 2017, we will have over 300 enrolled and in June 2018, we will graduate our first class. These pioneers will go on to the best colleges in the country prepared as bright, hopeful, hardworking students who have been formed by a program that has raised up ethical leaders for our future.

The Outcome

Young people who graduate from The Episcopal School of Los Angeles will be students who understand who they are, what they believe, and how they can use that knowledge to work effectively in the world. Our graduates will bring their classroom experience into the wider world through service to their communities. No matter where they may find themselves after college, we know that they will maintain a deep love for learning, as well as for service. We will measure the success of our graduating students by their ability to be focused, creative, entrepreneurial, service-oriented young men and women.