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Third Campus is a Charm for Charters

ACLC and Nea’s new location at 1900 Third Street. (Photo collage by Robert Cassard)

ACLC and Nea’s new location at 1900 Third Street. (Photo collage by Robert Cassard)


by Bara Waters

Sometimes the third time is the charm – at least for Alameda public charter schools, Nea and Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC). Both schools have been shuffled around in recent years, but are settling in for the long term with an 11-year lease at their new location in the former Woodstock Educational Center at 1900 Third Street.

“There’s a really positive feeling at this new location,” said Jake Powell, a facilitator (teacher) of Social Sciences at ACLC. “Each school has its own distinct space and program, but there’s also a cool synergy between us because we can share resources, ideas and generally support each other.”

In spite of a summer filled with helping their schools move and settle in, learners are also enjoying their new campus.
“It’s awesome because we have grass courtyards and get to use the Boys & Girls Club gym,” said Nea 8th-grader, Holly Teeters. “The learners are pretty upbeat because it’s going smoothly and they feel like they’re getting a fresh start,” Teeters said.

“Webster Street and the new Target shopping center are close, and the College of Alameda is really convenient for classes we take there,” said ACLC 11th-grader, Ryan Kelley-Cahill. “Plus, it only takes a few days in a new place for it to feel like ACLC again,” said Kelley-Cahill, referring to the school culture known as “the vibe you can’t describe.”

Over the past few years, these two schools have experienced something akin to musical chairs. In 2011, AUSD split Nea’s original K-12 program, housed at the former Longfellow campus, by moving grades K-5 to the former Chipman campus. In 2013, AUSD relocated ACLC from its 18-year home on the Encinal High School campus to the Wood Middle School campus. And this year, the AUSD required all three campuses to move to the new location on Third Street.

“Relocation and staff changes can be challenging for kids and schools,” said Annalisa Moore, Nea’s Interim Lead Facilitator (principal). “But our enrollment has held remarkably steady despite these changes. We’re honored that it’s our programs, not the places, that our families value,” Moore said.

“Between the relocation and fresh faces enrolling, and new staff in key positions, our whole organization feels re-energized, and the excitement is obvious,” said Patti Wilczek, Ph.D., Executive Director of Community Learning Center Schools, ACLC and Nea’s charter management organization. “Thanks to the dedication of our staff and families and our schools’ strong community spirit, moving has ultimately strengthened us. And, the new campus is exceeding everyone’s expectations – it’s all good,” said Wilczek.

ACLC (grades 6-12) and Nea (grades K-12) are tuition-free public charter schools in Alameda, managed by Community Learning Center Schools, Inc. While each school has a distinct culture, curriculum and focus, both are progressive and project-based educational communities based on a democratic model that empowers learners.

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