Welcome to our website. My name is Mike Harris and I am the Principal here at Charter University Prep. We are a public, tuition-free, Charter School program which focuses on Junior and Senior High School University Preparatory courses. Depending on class choices, students come to the school site two or four days per week. Students schedule their non-classroom days to complete home assignments, pursue electives, community college courses, P.E., employment/internships, and/or other coursework.
We began the school in the fall of 1999 with sixty- five students, teaching all of the core college prep. courses in Math, Science, English, Foreign Languages (Latin, French, and Spanish), Fine Arts, and Social Studies. The following year, we added courses in 7th and 8th grades. We have grown every year, primarily limited by facility space. In 2003, we became a part of Charter Community School under the authority of the El Dorado County Office of Education. At that time, we moved into the facility at Smith Flat, which was previously a child care center; before that, an elementary school.
In 2010, we moved from Smith Flat to the Charles Brown Educational Center in the city of El Dorado. This move gave us significantly more classroom space, a gymnasium, outdoor grass fields and allowed three of the Charter programs to come under one roof. Currently, we serve approximately 180 students in grades seven through twelve and teach over 60 classes, as well as provide opportunities for students to participate in R.O.P. and college classes while in High School.
I believe our success rests on these foundational principles:
- Time sitting in a classroom seat has little to do with how well someone learns.
Colleges do not follow the "child care" philosophy of the public school system. They operate on the premise that students need instruction, need time to interact and need a lot of time to study on their own. We have found that this model of education works very well for junior high and secondary students as long as the curriculum is designed for this type of learning. Our instructors are highly qualified in their areas of expertise and are able to weave instruction and home assignments that bring out in-depth learning.
- There must be some incentive for students to work hard.
Our courses are rigorous, and they cover the same material as a traditional school - in half the classroom time. Our students are rewarded for working hard with a schedule that allows them flexibility. Students do not have to sit through five days of classes each week if they do not need that level of repetition or supervision.
- We do not focus on discipline, we focus on academics.
Our school is voluntary; students choose to attend because they want to learn, not mess around. Students are in courses based on their demonstrated ability level, not their ages. This way, everyone in a class is "on the same page" which allows for instruction to move forward without a lot of wasted time on students who did not do their homework. Even though "kids are kids", students getting A's and B's rarely get in trouble. Trouble happens in school when students are bored or rebellious or have problems with other students. Our students are only on campus 12 to 15 hours per week, spending the majority of that time in a classroom actively learning.
- We are a community.
We do not advertise our program or recruit new students, yet every year we have a large waiting list. This is because we treat our students with respect and work extremely hard to give them the highest possible educational experience. We host trips to Washington D.C. (for 8th and 9th-grade students) and Europe (for 11th and 12th-grade students) which are attended by the majority of our students. Our class sizes are 15 or less and teachers get to know students personally, thus setting the foundation for truly mentoring them through their courses and lives.
- Our staff.
Each member of the staff truly cares for their students and is very knowledgeable in their subject area. Each teacher knows that we are a school of choice and that our success depends on them doing everything possible to help our students learn. People are inspired by people, not by a program schedule. Students and families recommend us to their friends only because we have done our jobs well.