Crew & Service

We are crew, not passengers

One of the foundational credos of Expeditionary Learning is: “We are crew, not passengers.” This metaphor refers to a group in a boat on a long voyage, where everyone is needed to pull at an oar and no one sits by watching. In adhering to this motto, “crew” will be used to reference both individual classrooms and the entire school community. We strive to instill a sense of responsibility, participation, and cooperation among individuals, the student body, the school community, and the greater Truckee community. This motto represents our commitment to inclusion and action in the service of self and others.

We are crew, not passengersWe are crew, not passengers

Far more than a traditional homeroom, this tightly knit advisory group is a family unit that begins every single day of school with a morning meeting deepening relationships, team building, sharing, developing group norms, shaping and reshaping their culture. Teachers and students listen actively and attentively to one another. In crew, students re-define what it means to be a learning community that really supports and challenges one another. Because of our multi-age model, students have a chance to develop even stronger crew bonds over a two-year span in many crews.

Service and Service Learning

At SELS, we believe that we are at our best when we are working together for the common good. To be of service to other people, other species, and to the earth is not a burden, it is an honor—at time when we get to shine through the act of providing.

On Campus

Service is at the heart of our SELS Buddy program, where older and younger students are paired in a mentor/mentee relationship. So many times each day, and especially in their collaborative activities, older Buddies get to be their best selves by providing for, and showing care to, a younger member of the SELS community.

Learning Through Service in the Field and in the Community

A visit to the local senior centerA visit to the local senior centerWhile service such as volunteering at a senior center is a wonderful way to connect, service becomes service learning when SELS students studying the history of our community go to a local retirement home to make regular visits where they develop deep relationships, eventually interviewing and capturing oral histories from elders in our town. Taking the seniors’ stories and using them to deepen and broaden learning in the classroom, students now use some of the details and oratory techniques in their own speeches and chautauquas.

Cleaning up a local street would be nice community service. Restoring a creek habitat as part of a riparian zone study is service learning. With their new knowledge of local and invasive species, students roll up their sleeves, they make a plan based on water sampling and species counts. Students implement their plan and work to help the local watershed remain the lifeline for all the many living beings in our area.

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Sierra Expeditionary Learning School
PO Box 2179
Truckee, CA 96160

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SELS is a 501c(3) non-profit corporation, Truckee Charter School Foundation, dba Sierra Expeditionary Learning School. Federal Tax ID: 27-1627347.

For Parents



11603 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
Portable buildings M3-M7

Phone: (530) 448-8115
Fax: (530) 448-8223
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On top of all the teaching and learning, I'm struck by the joy in the faces of all the children as they go about their quest for knowledge. Thanks to all the courageous and energetic people who had the vision to make this school a reality. With all the challenges the world faces today and predictions of disaster, these committed teachers/staff, these engaged families, and these beautiful children are a beacon of hope.

SELS embodies everything that I feel is important in my child's education and I am so grateful that she has the opportunity to learn in such an enriching environment. Teaching our children how to think and how to treat others is critical to their future success. I am thankful every single day for all the wonderful staff at SELS.

What an amazing place. It has been everything for my son that I had hoped he could experience in school. Great teacher, stimulating learning environment, and a deeply caring and nurturing place.

I am grateful that my child is encouraged to interpret concepts and think about how they apply to his life, not just memorize and repeat material. I love that SELS asks kids to think about who they are and how they contribute to the community, locally and globally.

I greatly appreciate that SELS is a heart-centered school that teaches ethics and values along with academics. That approach makes SELS a unique and special place.

I appreciate all the teachers and staff and their responsiveness. I also appreciate all the work the staff are doing to help the kids figure out how to fill each other's buckets!

Our son is bubbling over with excitement for learning. This environment is gifting him with life long skills to succeed. We are so thankful for this school.

All the Adults and students challenge each other the THINK!

SELS is amazing in the way they teach topics hands on and allow the children to learn in practical settings. We couldn't be happier seeing our son flourish so much! Thank you.

I am very grateful to the SELS staff for offering my 5th grader their hearts, as well as their knowledge. Better yet, they make learning fun and adventurous! My youngster is THRIVING at your wonderful school!!

We are thankful for many wonderful ideals and principles at SELS, but what really brings those into reality is the caring, hard-working teachers and staff. We wouldn't have thought that someone else would care as much about the whole education of our daughter as much as we do, but there is a whole team of such people at SELS.

I am so thankful that my 5th grade daughter is a member and student of this beautiful community and school. She is receiving a fantastic education with hands on learning, caring, understanding, creative, out of the box thinking and intuitive teachers. She feels included, important, confident and is growing tons in her knowledge and place in this wonderful community. Thank you SELS for being an amazing part of my daughter's education and Life!

I truly appreciate all the staff, students, parents and families at SELS. It is these people that make SELS so wonderful.
This has become a new 'family" for us!

I am so grateful for the amazing staff; they are the most amazing guides. It is an inspiration to watch them help our children learn and grow into thoughtful, independent, productive human beings!
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