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The Dr. Theodore T. Alexander, Jr. Science Center School is a neighborhood school. In accord with the school’s charter, 70% of the students attending the school are to come from the neighborhood around the California Science Center.
Imagine an elementary school with all of the resources a teacher or parent could ever want. It’s located near world-class museums, a major university and a state-of-the-art teacher professional development center. The school features an integrated curriculum emphasizing science, mathematics and the use of technology. Its teachers are fully credentialed with a demonstrated ability to make science and math engaging and accessible to their students. And it’s not a magnet school but rather a neighborhood school for underserved groups of children and their parents. While such a school seems like a dream, it is a dream that has become reality in South Los Angeles, the result of more than a decade of collaborative work between the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
For the California Science Center, the building of the Science Center School represents a crucial step in its 25-year master plan. The construction site is part of the Science Center complex and includes a new building to house most of the school’s classrooms and the newly renovated Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation. The Wallis Annenberg Building houses eight classrooms, administrative offices, a multi-purpose room and the school library. In addition, the Wallis Annenberg building includes over 80,000 square feet for the Science Center’s education division, the Amgen Center for Science Learning. This means that the Science Center School is directly adjacent to cutting edge facilities that will house many of the Science Center’s programs including community programs, summer science camp, camp-ins and a burgeoning teacher professional development program.
The development of the school was an inclusive process. At each key programmatic element, time was taken to assure that the project reflected the expectations of all those involved. A good example of this was the school envisioning process which was done in 2002 to put a firm vision in place for what this school was truly about. The two most significant products of this envisioning process are the vision statement and the project timeline. This timeline, which included such items as identifying and hiring a school principal, developing the school’s curriculum and supplying and equipping the school, guided the school’s developmental progress.
School opened for the first day of classes on September 9, 2004. Over 690 students attended classes during the 2005-2006 school year.