Category Archives: Our Program

Help Our School

A common misconception of public schools is that they are free when in fact providing excellent education comes at quite a high cost. When most of us were children, property taxes and other federal funding were more than adequate to provide the required resources to fund schools. In 1978, Proposition 13 overhauled the way California property taxes were assessed and dramatically lowered the amount of money raised for public school education in California. Over the past 30 years California has moved from being the leader in U.S. public education standards to 35th in the nation in per pupil spending. Our District’s funding sources are insufficient to provide the educational excellence that our children deserve.

We are moving forward with the challenge to fill the gaps with public funding. Learn more about fundraising efforts, make a donation online or ways you can volunteer.

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The Need for Growth

Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS) opened in the fall of 2010 as an independent public charter school serving 64 K-5th grade students. Due to state budget cuts, forecasts of reduced funding, and the prospect of offering higher quality programming and social opportunities, SELS quickly decided to expand its student population over the next three years, completed by the academic start of 2013. This expansion has been vital to our school’s success, allowing for greater fiscal stability, more academic, enrichment, and social opportunities for our students, and an improved ability to meet the needs of the Truckee community. This year SELS is serving 160 K-7th grade students. Next year, in its final year of growth, SELS anticipates serving 200+ K-8th grade students. Until now, SELS has been fortunate to be accommodated on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s (TTUSD) District Office campus. Unfortunately, there are no additional available classrooms on the campus to accommodate SELS’ last expansion.
Facility Plan and Use of Funds

The SELS Facility Plan represents the culmination of an extensive search for a suitable site to house the school in a safe, affordable, and easily accessible location. While the buildings currently situated on the SELS campus have provided adequate space to launch the school, additional buildings and common areas are required to support the expansion described above. The current need is to provide space for three additional classrooms, develop additional play space, and upgrade existing structures. The TTUSD continues to be incredibly supportive of SELS and has offered three “portables” (similar to existing classrooms) that are currently located in Kings Beach.

The SELS Capital Campaign seeks to raise in excess of $300K to relocate the portables and enhance existing structures on the campus. The timing for the project is to complete pre-development work by the end of the calendar year 2012. Next, permitting, bidding, hiring contractors, and other pre-construction work will be completed between January and June, 2013. Finally, actual construction will begin as soon as possible after the end of the school year in June and be completed by mid-August to allow teachers to prepare the new classrooms.

How Your Donation to the Capital Campaign Will Be Used*

Action Percent of Funds

Planning, engineering, approvals, permits, etc.


On-site development, portable relocation


Clean up at Kings Beach site


On-site improvements, play space, enhancing existing structure


Facilities and educational reserves

Remaining Funds

* assumes $300K minimum to cover anticipated cost

How You Can Help

We are proud to report that 100% of the SELS Board of Directors has committed to contribute a minimum donation of $5,000 each, totaling $50,000, to the SELS Capital Campaign. To jumpstart our efforts further, please consider one or more of the following actions:

Donate: All tax deductible cash contributions to the Capital Campaign will be used exclusively for the development of our campus to provide a suitable learning environment for SELS students. Donate Now using the options on the right >>

Corporate Matching: Some employers match your donations dollar for dollar, enabling you to have twice the impact!

Volunteer: You can help us by volunteering for a specific task related to the Capital Campaign and/or the actual site planning and building efforts.

In Kind Contributions: Extensive amounts of materials will be required for both buildings and grounds to complete the school expansion project. In Kind contributions are a great way to reduce the overall cost of the project.

Download a full capital campaign brochure in the Attachments section below.

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The parent teacher crew (PTC) has worked hard to enable SELS to raise money at no cost. You can donate by doing every day things like recycling, linking grocery cards, bringing in box tops and buying labels. Information on how to participate is below.

Bring in Recycling to SELS Library

Drop of any of the following recycling items: inkjet print cartridges, toner print cartridges, cell phones, digital cameras, laptops and GPS devices to the SELS library and SELS will receive donations based on the resale value. Learn more from Funding Factory at

Bring in Box Tops to the Library

Bring your box tops and put in contain in the SELS library. Learn about what products have box tops at

Link Grocery and Credit Cards with Escript

Click the image below to link up your loyalty rewards cards from Safeway, Savemart and other to have a store donate to SELS. The school is registered as ‘Sierra Expeditionary Learning School’, group ID: 500024282. Alternatively, call Safeway toll-free, 877-723-3929 to get your club card #. All credit card(s) can be linked as well.

3ways banner

Mabel’s Labels

Buy custom labels for your clothes and gear and a portion of those proceeds will go to SELS. Learn more and purchase at –

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As many of you are aware, government funding of education has been increasingly limited in recent years. Most charter schools count on a per child family donation to supplement the state and government funding they receive. Family donations are generally used for items not entirely covered in the budget, such as expedition fieldwork. We would like to cover much of these costs (entrance/fieldwork fees; food for overnights; materials and supplies) with an annual family donation. We plan to use these donations to fund expedition-related expenses so that we will not need to ask for money for each fieldwork excursion throughout the year. The only anticipated exceptions are expensive overnight trips, such as Sagehen Environmental Learning Center, the Yosemite Institute, and similar extended excursions.

In order to provide fabulous expedition opportunities, we would greatly appreciate a family donation of $200 per K/1 student, $250 per 2/3 student, and $350 per 4-7 student for the 2012-2013 year. The different costs reflect the increasing amount of fieldwork for the upper grades.

We realize that not all families may be able to make this donation. All students will participate fully in off-site expeditions whether or not their family provides a donation. If you are able, we invite you to consider sponsoring a child from a family who is unable to donate (all sponsored student information is confidential). If you are unable to provide a financial donation, we encourage you to contribute to the SELS community in other ways. Please speak with David Manahan about the various volunteer opportunities available.

We are including three different payment options for your convenience. Please use an option below to make your donation, or mail to: SELS, PO Box 2179, Truckee, CA 96160

[pricing_table cols=”3″ style=”red”] [pricing_column title=”Grades K/1″ currency=”$” price=”200″ order=”first” description=”annual contribution” button_title=”Donate Now” button_link=””] [pricing_features]

Kindergarten and 1st Grade

[/pricing_features] [/pricing_column] [pricing_column title=”Grades 2/3″ currency=”$” price=”250″ description=”annual contribution” button_title=”Donate Now” button_link=”” highlight=”false”] [pricing_features]

2nd and 3rd Grade

[/pricing_features] [/pricing_column]

[pricing_column title=”Grades 4-7″ order=”last” currency=”$” price=”350″ description=”annual contribution” button_title=”Donate Now” button_link=”″] [pricing_features]

4th thru 7th Grade

[/pricing_features] [/pricing_column] [/pricing_table]


SELS aims to integrate volunteer efforts by parents and community members. To see if you can volunteer for our school, please contact our Parent-Teacher Crew (PTC). The PTC is headed by Stacey Carr and Monique Long for the 2012-13 school year.

To contact them, send an email to


We Respect Your Privacy

We will protect personal information with safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information. 
Our safeguards will protect personal information against loss or theft,  as well as unauthorized access,  disclosure,  copying,  use or modification,  regardless of the format in which the information is held. We will make our employees and volunteers aware of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of personal information,  and we will exercise care in the disposal or destruction of personal information to prevent unauthorized parties from gaining access to the information.

EL’s Design Principles

The 10 Design Principles of Expeditionary Learning that guide us:

Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.

Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.

Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.

All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.

Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other, but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.

Both diversity and inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, and respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate and value their different histories and talents as well as those of other communities and cultures. Schools and learning groups are heterogeneous.

A direct and respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit and teaches the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.

Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with other students and with adults.

We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school’s primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service.

Read more about how EL students learn.