Norte County's Tah-Ah-Dun Magnet School made its K-12 program
accessible to adult students this fall when it moved its offices
under the umbrella of Castle Rock Charter School. Founded in 2000,
Tah-Ah-Dun was formerly part of the Independent Studies Program.
Castle Rock Charter School, Tah-Ah-Dun is a self-paced independent
program designed to meet or exceed the state's academic standards.
In addition, the school incorporates the Tolowa language and tribal
Loren Bommelyn and his wife, Lena Bommelyn, who is the instructional
assistant of the school, form the staff for the entire program.
Forty students are enrolled this year, up from 27 last year. All
are Native Americans except one, Bommelyn said.
requests continue to grow, we're going to have to hire another teacher,"
is excited to be able to offer parents the opportunity to obtain
a high school diploma along with their children, as there is no
age limit for students. Math and reading skills are assessed when
students enroll to determine their grade level.
addition to the required normal academic curriculum, Bommelyn teaches
the Tolowa language on a one-to-one basis. In the "curriculum cafe,"
he and his wife also hold classes in basketry, canoe and paddle
carving, and the making of drums, nets, jewelry and native dresses.
program meets the students on an individual basis, and the starting
point is at their ability level, not their sequential (grade) level,"
Bommelyn said. "This is the reason for the assessments, so that
we know that a student is starting at the reading level in which
they can function. Then we challenge them to raise that as they
have time with us. So we're going to move them through the same
curriculum (as conventional schools). The difference is it's going
to be on their time frame and at their level for what they need.
is what helps them succeed here," he said, "because if you can't
read at a certain level and you're in a class where you're forced
to do curriculum at that level, you're going to fall behind. So
that's why we're different.
then we're hoping that the Native Americans in this particular portion
of the program are connecting to the cultural experience and need
to be and want to be a part of that. That's where we want to reinforce
that part of their world, to support it, to validate that experience
and those values. So if we can do both of those things, then I think
we can have success with them."
offers students a different pathway to the same goal as conventional
schools -- graduation and a diploma, he said.
that fits their personality and helps them excel in their education
experience, then that's what I'm excited about," he said. "That
they end up feeling really good about who they are and that they
have that success happening for them, because it's the rest of their
lives that they have to live.
that's where (our) responsibility-based approach (comes in). They
have to have buy-in. They've got to want it. If they don't -- like
my dad always said, and you've heard the same thing, 'You can lead
a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.' That buy-in has
to occur. Either it does or it doesn't, but once it does, get out
of the way!"