Springwater Environmental Sciences School opened its doors to grades K-4 in the fall of 2006 after a year-long planning process by a group of parents who envisioned a small, rural school where their children could learn through hands-on experiences, with instruction that integrated math, reading and writing with science and the arts. Many of these parents had met through pre-school programs and wanted to continue the active involvement they had had in their children’s classrooms.
The parent group wrote and presented an initial proposal for a K-8 charter school to the Oregon City School Board. The State Department of Education approved the school for an initial planning grant, and subsequently for two more years of start-up grants. The local school board held public hearings and then approved the charter in the spring of 2006. In addition, the school board agreed to lease the building and campus of the former Logan Elementary School on Springwater Road, east of Oregon City.
Over the summer of 2006, parents and the school district maintenance staff repaired and spruced up the school building and grounds. The school opened with 86 students in four classrooms in September 2006. The school operated on a regular class schedule Monday through Thursday, with Fridays reserved for art projects and field studies using the adjacent Metro-owned green spaces. Further volunteer efforts during 2006-07 began the process of developing the campus as an “outdoor classroom,” including garden, playground, and seating for outdoor instruction.
Springwater has attracted a wide variety of families from the Oregon City area, as well as teachers and a principal who are dedicated to the educational principles of integrated instruction, a focus on science and sustainability, and the development of a unique, state-of-the-art educational program.
By the fall of 2010, the school had expanded to include four portables to accommodate its maximum size of approximately 195 students in grades K-8, and to provide room for a science/computer lab, a resource room/learning lab, and the independently operating Springwater Preschool.
With the expansion of grade levels and facilities complete, Springwater is now focused on actualizing its mission and vision in the educational program offered to its students. A fully-developed Friday Field Studies provides extensive hands-on outdoor learning, three Outdoor School programs (grades 5-8) allow the upper grades curriculum to be fully implemented in different geographic regions around the state, and the 8th grade Capstone Project culminates each Springwater student’s education in a year-long learning experience. Springwater continues to encourage staff development, to hone its curriculum, and to work with its community to ensure that its educational program remains vibrant and relevant.