Ridge and Valley Charter School Earns 3rd Renewal from NJ Dept of Ed as “Innovative Public Charter School”
The New Jersey Department of Education approved the Ridge and Valley Charter School on January 12 for an additional five years of student instruction, certifying the K-8 Warren County school for operation through 2023.
“We are very happy that the State has recognized the high-quality educational experiences that we provide for our students and families,” said RVCS Trustee and co-coordinator for State relations, Jessi Sohl, whose two sons attend the school. “This is a very special school that families love and that has continuously improved its program since our opening in 2004.”
As one of the original charter schools in New Jersey, RVCS emphasizes student-centered curriculum, personal excellence, hands-on experiential education, ecological sustainability, earth literacy, bioregional studies, self-directed study and outdoor learning.
“RVCS is an amazing school for my children and all children; they can’t wait to go to school everyday,” said Cindy Calvano, mother of three students at RVCS. “We moved to this area in large part because of the school. We couldn’t be happier.”
RVCS, which is located on Route 94 in Frelinghuysen, is open to any New Jersey child in the Kindergarten through 8th grade age range and currently enrolls approximately 127 students from more than 30 districts and towns across Northwest New Jersey.
About the New Jersey Charter School Renewal Process
The extensive renewal process included in-depth analysis of the school’s academic, financial, governance and mission components, as well as a day-long visit to the school by senior officials from the NJ DOE. The official renewal decision confirmed that RVCS meets or exceeds all criteria and standards.
RVCS Trustee and state relations co-coordinator Steve Andrasek, whose daughter attends the school, said the school led the way in its early years with foundation principles about how children learn best that are now recognized and proven to be effective in major studies and as implemented in many traditional schools across the country.
“Our students and families have always known that RVCS is an excellent school with many innovative, effective and engaging qualities,” said Andrasek. “It’s quite gratifying now that the State by this action has endorsed our educational philosophy and all the hard work and passion that our talented and dedicated staff bring to our students every day.”
A Brief History of Ridge and Valley Charter School
RVCS opened in the Fall of 2004, when only a handful of charters schools were operating. Since the first charters opened 20 years ago, the charter school sector has grown to serve approximately 50,000 students in 89 schools across every region of the state. Originally established as an incubator program for innovative educational strategies, charter schools in New Jersey have shifted somewhat to also provide quality education in under-performing districts.
In late 2017, Ridge and Valley Charter School was one of just four charter schools out of 89 in the state of New Jersey to be featured in the New Jersey Charter School Association’s “20 Years of New Jersey Charter Schools: A State of the Sector Report” under the “Innovation Stories” section. The school was highlighted as a “high-performing charter school” with a “unique school model.” The report features an overview of Ridge and Valley Charter School’s ecological and sustainability mission, coupled with its rigorous expeditionary curriculum, non-traditional structures and school-wide sustainability initiatives. The report concludes that “Ridge and Valley is an innovative school that truly embodies its unique mission – providing students with a high-quality education for a hopeful, sustainable future.”