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EDH Welcomes a New Charter High School

August 27, 2019
By Jana Rossi, Village Life

A new high school will open its doors in El Dorado Hills this 2019-20 school year. On Sept. 3 Cottonwood High will make its debut and welcomes local ninth- and 10th-graders.

Incorporating Montessori principles with project-based learning methods, students are given the freedom of self-exploration and experiential learning, according to Principal Jodiann Beeson. Collaboration is the underlying tone. Teaching with a different approach, Cottonwood’s team hopes to fill the niche where more traditional schools may leave a gap.

A look at the bell schedule demonstrates the differences. Community meetings take the place of morning announcements. Collaboration, garden and personal reflection is a scheduled, 44-minute class period and one week out of the school year students take a break from the classroom and take on something of their own choosing.

“Students are encouraged to find their interest and explore it,” explained Beeson. “Have an interest in fly fishing? Learn about it. Like board games? Research the strategy behind them.”

El Dorado Hills is the first brick-and-mortar location for this homeschool-based teaching group. Currently housed on Rossmoor Drive above District Church, the school has close to 50 freshmen and sophomores enrolled and the number is expected to climb.

“Getting the word out about us is big,” said Beeson, who has been busy holding information booths at local farmers markets and hosting various social events at the high school.

While the school’s new, permanent location is still under wraps, it is slated to hold up to 400 students in ninth through 12th grades. Construction should be completed by next spring. The teacher ratio will be 25:1 and an onsite academic counselor will round out the faculty.

Plans for the classrooms include garage-style doors that allow students the ability to work both inside and out while enjoying surrounding nature. Community rooms with various seating styles and gardens for students to plant and work in complete the natural Montessori-style environment.

Beeson, who most recently came from the Tracy Unified School District and previously worked in the Central Valley School District, said, “This is a dream to be able to meet the needs of the community and build a school with the guiding principles of Montessori, which is 100 percent student-centered, self-exploring and hands-on … plus to have a team of teachers who are truly a team.”

Cottonwood High School is an independent charter that falls under the Buckeye Union School District.

Principal Jodiann Beeson stands outside the temporary location for Cottonwood School in El Dorado Hills. Village Life photo by Jana Rossi.