Most seventh-graders aren’t thinking about their long-term goals for the future. But honors student Kiara Courtney from The O’Farrell Charter School isn’t like most seventh-graders. Kiara, who in seventh grade is currently taking ninth-grade math, said she likes going to O’Farrell because she gets to take an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class that prepares her for high school and college.

“The AVID family helps one another succeed,” Kiara said.

The O’Farrell High School Principal, Brian Rainey, noted that, “unlike other charter schools that have a specific niche focused on technology or arts, O’Farrell’s focus is on preparing well-rounded students for the future.”

“We’re preparing students for a four-year university, but not just getting them ready on paper,” Rainey said. “What we’re doing is getting them ready as people. They’re not just numbers. We are small on purpose, so you’ll always be one of our kids.”

O’Farrell School
O’Farrell School

The Personal Touch

The O’Farrell Charter School is a one-stop shop for families looking to prepare their children for college and careers. The year-one kindergarten through twelfth grade school enrolls just under 1,600 students and keeps their numbers small intentionally so that students get the personalized education they need to succeed.

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Want to send your child to a nationally recognized AVID demonstration school? Open Enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year begins Nov. 30, 2015. For more information on how to enroll your student today,
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O’Farrell goes above and beyond to ensure students get what they need inside as well as outside of the classroom. When five students showed an aptitude for an advanced math class last year, O’Farrell administrators and teachers came together to make sure those students received the elevated instruction they needed.

With all grade levels on the same campus, which is separated into distinct areas reserved for each academy, The O’Farrell High School English teacher Chantal Blakeney said students’ transitions from one school to the next are as seamless as possible. Blakeney explains that this occurs because teachers collaborate across grade levels and disciplines to ensure students are building upon what they learned the previous years.

“We work hard because we are on this crazy mission and it’s working, it’s evident in the data,” Blakeney said. “The kids are happy and nurtured and pushed to not only be academically successful, but personally successful.”

Each student at O’Farrell is partnered with a home base teacher who follows the student through every grade and serves as a liaison between the school and families. The home base teachers get to know their students on a personal level and not only help out with scheduling classes and extracurricular programs, but they meet regularly with parents and build relationships with families to foster student success.

O’Farrell School
O’Farrell School

Breaking the Mold

O’Farrell not only talks the talk, it walks the walk. The school far exceeds other neighborhood schools south of Interstate eight when it comes to test scores and performance. Rainey said the personalized education students receive at O’Farrell is what some parents dispense big bucks for at private schools.

“What students get here is what people have to pay $15,000 to $20,000 a year for in private school,” he said. “It’s a top quality education and we’re giving it right here in this community. If you care about your kid, send them here.”

Students thrive not only academically, but outside the schoolyard as well. This past summer, four O’Farrell students were accepted and received full scholarships to the prestigious Shakespeare summer program at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park. Students also go above and beyond to give back to their community, participating in the Finish Chelsea’s Run honoring San Diego teen Chelsea King, as well as the Make-a-Wish walk. Students in high school even have the opportunity to go on international trips to Europe in the summer.

Blakeney said going beyond the classroom to focus on relationship-building is at the core of student success and community support of O’Farrell.

“I tell people all the time I get to spend my days with good people,” she said. “The people I work with, but also the students and the culture we cultivate here.”

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