history of Fenton Charter Leadership Academy
In September 2009, Fenton Avenue Charter School was invited to participate in a three-day workshop sponsored by Yale University at which time the “Mutt-i-grees” Curriculum, an innovative approach to teaching children social-emotional skills, was to be introduced to selected schools in California. As a result of the level of commitment and interest, Fenton Avenue Charter School was named lead California school for the “Mutt-i-grees” project and also invited to join Yale University’s 20-year old project, the School of the 21st Century, also as the lead California school. The partnership that ensued between Fenton and Yale University sparked staff-wide interest in social and emotional learning (SEL) and the benefits that full implementation of the “Mutt-i-grees” program could bring to the Fenton charter schools and the surrounding community. Interest in social and emotional learning, and the benefits that an instructional program that fully embraced and integrated SEL into all aspects of the school day, led Barbara Aragón, lead Fenton teacher of the Yale-Fenton partnership, and Toni Frear, Fenton elementary school counselor and founding team member of the Yale partnership, to write a charter petition in the 2012-2013 school year. The charter petition for the Fenton Academy for Social and Emotional Learning was approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education in June of 2013. The school’s name was officially changed to the Fenton Charter Leadership Academy (FCLA) in May 2017.
Fenton Charter Leadership Academy is charter number 1613 in the state of California and one of the five schools within the Fenton Charter Public Schools charter management organization. Founded in 2011, the charter management organization consists of the following schools: Fenton Avenue Charter School (state charter number 30, converted to a public charter school in 1993); Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter School (state charter number 446, converted to a public charter school in 2002, and divested to the Fenton organization by our authorizing district, LAUSD, in 2012); Fenton Primary Center (opened in 2008, state charter number 911, and relocated to its own site in 2013); Fenton STEM Academy (state charter number 1605, opened in August 2015); and Fenton Charter Leadership Academy.
Fenton Charter Leadership Academy is located in Sun Valley, California, a suburb of the city of Los Angeles. The school opened on August 17, 2015 after the signing of a twenty-year lease and full renovation of the 50,000 square foot building located at 8926 Sunland Blvd., Sun Valley, CA 91352. The school sits near the intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard, across the street from a strip mall, and on the same side of Sunland Boulevard as a large produce market, a bank and gas station. The area behind the Charter School is residential with single-family dwellings, a large private school and traditional public schools nearby. FCLA shares the site with Fenton STEM Academy.
FCLA received an outstanding review from the Charter Schools Development Center (“CSDC”) during an external audit in its first year as required through the Public Charter School Grant Program (“PCSGP”).
CSDC noted the following strengths in their School Quality Review Report in the areas of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Assessment:
- Successful implementation of core charter components based on observations and parent, student, and staff feedback; including:
- Thematically integrated academic and social and emotional learning curricula, cooperative learning, and high standards for academic achievement, pro-social values, and cultural diversity
- A highly supportive and collaborative school environment particularly among school staff, and between school staff and students
- Students, staff, and parents surveyed indicated students are progressing well academically and are supported to master challenging curricula. Students reported they are “learning a lot” and praised their teachers as nice, kind, and for always teaching them new things.
- A high degree of responsiveness to students’ individual needs
- Systems of prevention and intervention are in place and well-developed
CSDC noted the following strengths in their School Quality Review Report in the areas of Governance, Operations, and Finance:
- Well established systems as part of Fenton Charter Public Schools
- Financially conservative budgeting and a positive fund balance
- An inclusive and effective governance structure and decision making process
- Effective advisory committees, governing board, collaborative leaders, and a high-degree of staff and stakeholder buy-in
Approximately one year later, in April 2017, FCLA received Western Association of Schools and Colleges (“WASC”) accreditation. In their report initial visit report the group noted:
“The mission and vision…is carefully researched and applied throughout the school. The Board is fully supportive of the school and embraces its philosophy.”
FCLA has also developed and maintained strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with local organizations such as the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council, Sol Del Valle Community Center, Tierra del Sol Foundation, Burbank Animal Shelter, Totally Kids Specialty Healthcare, and the Villa Scalabrini Retirement Center.