History of SELS

Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS) is a public charter school that opened in the fall of 2010 in Truckee, CA. How it came to be:

Jan-Mar 2009 Local Truckee/Tahoe families gathered to begin looking at education alternatives for our community and decided to try to start a charter school

May 2009 More than 30 Tahoe/Truckee parents meet to brainstorm ideas for the vision of the school

Jun-Sept 2009 Different educational styles and curriculum researched. Decided that Expeditionary Learning curriculum best fit the vision

Nov 2009 After meetings about alternatives and dividing up responsibilities, charter school group became 14 founding parents with a unified vision for the school

Dec 2009 Committee wrote Sierra Expeditionary Learning School charter petition

Feb 2010 Charter petition presented to TTUSD Board Trustees at public meeting

Mar 2010 TTUSD Board Trustees voted unanimously to approve SELS charter

Apr 2010 Held public information nights and public lottery to determine admission

May 2010 Hiring committee selects David Manahan as Director of SELS and begins interviewing teachers

Jun-Aug 2010 The school community came together to fix up portables and build a playscape at our facility—the portables outside of the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center

Jul 2010 Founding teachers are hired. Staff participates in EL Primary Institute, an intensive, week-long, professional development institute

Aug 2010 Sierra Expeditionary Learning School opens its doors, serving 63 students in grades K-5

Dec 2010 Families come together to celebrate learning for our first Gratitude Night. Classroom doors open for first Celebration of Learning, a community openhouse and showcase of student work

Feb 2011 Charter amendments approved allowing SELS to expand from 136 to about 200 students when the school reaches capacity and full K-8 grade spectrum

Apr 2011 SELS awarded a federal public charter school grant of $575,000

May 2011 New staff hired for 2011-2012 academic year

Jun 2011 Passage Portfolio presentation, assessment panel include community members. Celebration of Learning and Passage Ceremony are capstones for the first year

Aug 2011 SELS begins its second school year, serving 112 students, grades K-6

Nov 2011 Sierra Expeditionary Learning School students participate in the Family Resource Center’s Dia de Los Muertos celebration with several performances. SELS students are featured in the Sierra Sun

Dec 2011 Second annual Gratitude Dinner. Celebration of Learning features Transcontinental Railroad chautauquas, a Gold Rush musical, the preview of an orginal documentary film on geology, and rich classroom tour full of high quality products and dense portfolios.

Aug 2012 SELS begins its third school year, serving grades K-7

Summer 2013 The Capital Campaign expansion to the campus is done over the summer. 3 new modular classrooms are installed for the middle school grades and the elementary quad is consolidated. The office and library move to the front of campus.

Aug 2013 SELS begins its fourth school year, serving grades K-8

SELS was founded by group of local parents and residents that desire to see an alternative public education option in Truckee. The goal was to complement the current educational model in the community and provide an alternative option for students and teachers. The founders were diverse group of volunteers that were organized and highly motivated to turning a grass-roots effort into a reality. They were, and continue to be, committed to bringing a progressive and successful educational experience to the Tahoe Truckee community.

The founders group consisted of:

Elizabeth Bell, Kim Bradley, Anna Demm,  Kerri Flaherty, Carolyn Gallagher, Dana Mudd, Jill Penwarden, Alison Schwedner, Erica Stein, Angelica Stone, Melissa Williams, Jen Wilkin, SunMie Won, and Cristina Wooley .


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A K – 8th public charter school in Truckee, CA