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The Open Magnet Charter School is an innovative and highly successful public magnet school. It was founded in 1977 by parents who wanted a child-centered, meaningful and experiential educational program for their children. As one of the original magnet schools established to promote integration in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Open School draws students, selected through the district magnet program, from various neighborhoods across Los Angeles. Our long-standing commitment to ethnic diversity, formally reaffirmed in our charter, continues to stand as one of our guiding principles.
In 1993 we were the first school in Los Angeles to be granted Charter status. Our charter has been renewed every five years since, further highlighting both our students’ success and that of our site-based governance system. Based on our outstanding student results, we received the prestigious California Distinguished School and the Magnet School of Merit awards in 1997. In 2001, we were one of three schools chosen in the county of Los Angeles to be the recipient of the Los Angeles Educational Partnership Excellence Award. We also have received the California Distinguished School award again in 2003 and 2012.
As a laboratory school, the Open School has always been at the cutting edge of educational experimentation. Our program was designed around the Constructivist educational philosophy and its core tenet that learning happens best when children are engaged in experiential activities that allow them to make connections to their own real life experiences.
In 1986, this passion for innovation captured the attention of Apple Computer when the company chose the Open School as its home for its renowned “Vivarium” program; a comprehensive research project designed to explore ways of using technology to enhance the learning process. To facilitate the program, Apple donated nearly two hundred computers, one for each of the teachers, and one computer for every two students. Working together with the team from Apple, the school opted to put the computers into the classrooms rather than setting up a separate computer lab. Apple also provided two full-time Apple employees, teacher training, and technical support for the duration of the project. During the seven years of Apple’s involvement at the Open School, computers became integrated into the curriculum as fully as books, pencils, and paper.
Although the Vivarium project was phased out in the early ‘90s, the use of technology and the culture of experimentation have continued to flourish at the Open School and remain at the heart of what defines and distinguishes our program. Students use computers for everything from daily journaling and composition to multimedia presentations, research, and object-based programming.
In 1996, our principal and teachers decided it was time to begin sharing our innovative teaching practices with other educators. We created an on-site Institute, conducted during the students' regular school day. The Institute features focused classroom observations, discussions on curriculum and school organization, and teacher-led workshops on various topics, such as thematic teaching, integrated curriculum and the use of technology in the classroom. The first one was so successful that The Open School Institute has since become an annual event attended by educators from around the world.