The Three Cornerstones of Our New West Philosophy
The first cornerstone of New West’s philosophy is that students’ opportunity to excel is much greater when their parents are highly involved in their education.
Part of the school’s educational plan is a signed agreement between parents and the school known as the Home-School Contract. The intent is to ensure parental involvement in a strong, collaborative partnership between home and school.
Another cornerstone is that parents have high expectations of the school and the benefits their children will receive. In turn, New West expects parents to contribute to the team-effort needed to fulfill the school’s mission with regard to academic achievement and character development.
The third cornerstone is that diversity among parents is a strength that improves the educational culture for all. Parents have different philosophies and approaches to their involvement in their children’s education. Likewise, parents may contribute in different ways to the collective responsibility of running a charter school and making its educational program a success. Recognizing that each parent, like each child, is unique in terms of background, experience, and ability, New West invites parents to contribute to the school’s success by volunteering their skills, time, and resources to the extent that they are able.
Charter School Status
New West Charter is a free, parent-founded, independent, high-performing, public charter school currently serving grades 6–12. New West Charter opened in September 2003 at its Pico Boulevard campus under its charter granted by the State Board of Education. New West is chartered by the State Board of Education and supervised by the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education.
Legal Status and Governance
New West is operated as a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation. The Corporate Board, which also serves as the school’s Governance Council, has three elected Founders, three elected parents of enrolled students, two appointed community members, the Director/Principal, three teachers, one non-instructional staff member, and one representative of the chartering authority.
The development of New West was a community effort by involved parents who organized in early 2000 to start a new school that provides for choice in public education. Obtaining the charter and opening of the school in September 2003 depended on many parents who volunteered their time, effort, and resources to make the promise of New West a reality for their children and others.
New West is based on the premise that close, strong, on-going collaboration between parents and educators is the single most important determinant of student success. Accordingly, New West expects a high level of parental involvement as an integral part of the school’s educational program. New West parents must sign a Home School Contract.
New West is funded directly by the State at the same per student level as any public school in California. New West is active and successful in seeking grants and charitable donations to enhance the quality and breadth of the school’s educational program.
School & Class Size
New West has a school population of about 825 students in grades 6 – 12 with small class sizes that average 30 students per classroom.
Composition of the Student Body
New West’s students come from all over Los Angeles. The student body is racially and ethnically diverse (49% White, 19% Black, 24% Hispanic, 6% Asian, and 2% other). And about 18% of the students are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families.
Sharon Weir was born and educated in Scotland, UK. She received her undergraduate degree from St. Andrew’s College of Education (1987), graduate and post-graduate degrees from the University of Strathclyde (1993) and Glasgow University (2002), and completed graduate work at Harvard University in Boston, USA (2010).
Sharon began her career in 1987 teaching students in primary and secondary schools across a diverse socio-economic spectrum. In 1993, she transferred to South Lanarkshire Council to work as a special education consultant to develop a fully inclusive educational model for disadvantage students. In 1998, she took an administrative role when invited to join a local authority project under a UK government initiative as a lead officer for a new educational think-tank on intervention and innovation in primary and secondary schools. From 1997-2000, she worked collaboratively with the University of Glasgow in an extensive research project leading to a published dissertation that identified discrepancies in male and female achievement at the secondary school level.
In 2000, Sharon moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where she became Director/CEO of Seashore Learning Center (SLC), a public, independent, high-performing K-6th grade charter school on Padre Island. Under her direction, SLC became an “Exemplary Campus” with more than 95% of its students passing the Texas statewide achievement tests. In addition, Sharon worked collaboratively to obtain grant funding for facilities, technology, and curriculum development in excess of $15 million dollars. Sharon became a mentor for charter schools across Texas and a frequent speaker at both the state and national level for curriculum and technology in public education.
Sharon was appointed Principal/Executive Director of New West Charter in Los Angeles in February 2005. She has applied her extensive knowledge as an innovative British educator, her experience as a charter school leader, and her natural enthusiasm and good humor toward making New West Charter Middle and High School into one of the most highly sought after public schools in California.
In 2009, Sharon was selected as the CCSA California Principal of the Year.
New West has subsequently been named twice by the California Department of Education as a prestigious California Distinguished School (2009 and 2014).
All full-time teachers in the core subjects must meet the same credentialing requirements as any public school teacher. All teachers must meet the “highly qualified” standard of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Teacher salaries and benefits are comparable to those provided by local school districts. Teachers are chosen for their demonstrated excellence in their fields of study, their ability to work collaboratively, their excitement about ongoing professional development, their understanding of the “different” needs of school children and their commitment to the opportunities available to charter schools.
The curriculum emphasizes four core area subjects at each grade level: Reading/Language Arts, Mathematics, History/Social Science, and Science. These classes are taught by the school’s full-time teachers who base their lessons on the California curricular standards for each subject.
6th – 8th grade students choose two electives per semester from a changing menu of available courses. Electives have included: Youth in Action, Art, Poetry, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Film Critic, iMovie, Band (beginning/advanced), Robotics, Spanish (beginning/intermediate), History of Rock and Roll, Student Government, Study Skills, Strategic Games, and Yearbook.
New West is fully inclusive in providing students with disabilities with a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment as an integral part of the school's educational culture.
Besides the usual classroom quizzes and exams, assessment tests are given at regular intervals to evaluate each student’s entry level skills and progress toward mastering grade level standards. All New West students participate in the state-wide standardized testing (CAASPP) each spring. CELDT (California English Language Development Test).
New West Charter has a fully functional library for middle and high school students.
The school has a media lab with 30+ iMacs, four mac carts each with 30 Macbook Pros or Macbook Airs and one iPad cart with 30 iPads. In addition each classroom has one or more iMacs. Each math classroom uses SMART interactive whiteboards. The world’s leading interactive white board that combines the simplicity of a white board with the power of a computer, and brings interactivity to any environment.
PE is taught on and off campus five days per week and at Stoner park every Thursday and Friday.
The school year starts the last week of August and ends the first week of June with a one week Thanksgiving break, a two week winter holiday break, and a one week spring break in April. See our Academic Calendar.
School Day – High School
School starts at 7:30am daily with dismissal at 2:30pm. View the full High School Bell Schedule.
School Day – Middle School
School starts at 8:30am daily with dismissal at 3:30pm. View the full Middle School Bell Schedule.
New West Charter After-School Program
New West is excited to offer our After School Enrichment Program taught by our very own staff! Our New West Staff will provide classes that will stimulate our students, mentally and physically. Different enrichment classes are offered everyday. At the end of every semester, students will go on a fun filled field trip to local attractions. Click here to find out about our After School A3 Enrichment Program.
Students wear uniforms, which are mandatory. Students will be provided at no cost with at least one New West polo shirt and outer wear or an appropriate logo to attach to a polo or outer wear. Parents/guardians may also purchase uniforms. More information can be found on our uniforms page.
Meals from our outside vendor Choice Lunch may be purchased at a reasonable cost every day.
The school’s campus is fenced and gated and protected by security cameras. Students are not allowed off campus without supervision. Parents need to physically walk into school and sign out their child when leaving during school hours. Morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-up are managed by coaches, teachers, parent volunteers and staff.
Equal Rights Statement
New West does not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or disability.
New West is accredited by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges for both our middle and high school program. WASC is a regional association that accredits public and private schools, colleges and universities in the United States. WASC accreditation provides a certification to the public that schools must be worthy of the trust placed in them to provide high-quality learning opportunities and clearly demonstrate continual self improvement. Most colleges and universities require graduation from an accredited high school. New West will participate in a WASC full self study in the spring of 2017.