Officials from the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District and Sonoma State University's School of Education gathered at the campus of La Fiesta Elementary School on Liman Way Wednesday morning to celebrate the school's reincarnation.
Closed in 2008 in the midst of a flurry of budget cuts by the school district, the former K-6 La Fiesta School has been revived through a partnership between the district and Sonoma State University's School of Education. The school is re-opening with 42 students in kindergarten and first grade, most of whom live in the district.
The school is being led by a pair of teachers who graduated from the university's School of Education, Natasha Smith and Kendall Daigle.
District and university officials hailed local parent and Sonoma State Educational Leadership Master’s Degree candidate Sarah Mia Rapp for being instrumental in reviving the school. As the project developed, Rapp and others collaborated directly with families in the community, canvasing them about what their child's education should involve and helping draw families back to the district.
Rapp said she imagined a partnership between the university and her local school district where "children grow up to love learning, provide for the needs of every learner, and encourage innovative curriculum, and university students and faculty could support and learn along the way too."
District officials said the school's curriculum will focus on "active, hands-on learning, stressing imaginative play and taking into account individual interests and developmental needs."
As the first group of students progresses, more grade levels will be added. University students in the newly created Early Childhood Studies major will be able to assist teachers in the classroom at La Fiesta.
"The University Elementary School is a prime example of the important collaborative efforts that Sonoma State University School of Education and the local school districts undertake to serve the pre-K-14 students of Sonoma County," Dr. Carlos Cuauhtémoc Ayala, Dean of Sonoma State University's School of Education, said in a statement.