WATSONVILLE — Pacific Coast Charter School celebrated its 20th anniversary Thursday, and the milestone had the school looking to its past and its future.
The K-12 charter school, founded in 1999, blends independent study and homeschool learning with academic programs, workshops, tutorials and field studies.
Vicky Carr, who helped found the school and served as principal until 2010, remembers the long journey it took in making PCCS what it is today.
Independent study was established in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) in 1977 in trailers on the Adult Eduction campus. Carr officially came aboard as a teacher in 1985, and from there it grew into a K-8 program.
“That was the start of everything,” Carr said. “We hired more teachers… we started holding workshops, field trips and formed official graduations. Things were falling into place.”
But it was not until 1997 that the new superintendent of the PVUSD, Dr. John Casey, set a goal in creating a new, high school-level independent study charter school. Parents and staff joined forces to create PCCS, now for K-12 PVUSD students.
Carr said that the school’s focus has always been to meet the needs of each student.
“One size does not fit all when it comes to learning,” Carr said. “We recognize that every student has their own unique needs and goals.”
Thursday afternoon saw past and current teachers, students and administrators gather at the school, located at The Towers on Green Valley Road, for an anniversary event. Carr and others gave speeches, students showcased their work and the school’s drama department performed for the crowd.
Current Principal Andrew Singleton has only been at PCCS for the past year—but it’s already had a big effect on him.
“I love it,” he said. “The staff is incredible and the students are great. It’s a haven—a place where kids who might just need something a little different can thrive.”
A big component of PCCS’s high school curriculum is its one-on-one approach. Students are assigned to one specific teacher who guides them through their studies over time. This is supported by other instructors who hold classes and workshops in specific subjects.
“Students have told me over the years that they were never able to talk directly with teachers before coming to PCCS,” Carr said. “It makes such a big difference.”
Singleton, who has previously been Principal at Renaissance High and worked at various other schools over the years, expressed his hope for current and future PCCS students.
“I want students who come to this school to feel a sense of family, of belonging,” he said. “A place where people believe in them.”