Young scholars, staff and school founder Dean Forman (aka John Adams) ceremoniously open the school on the first day of classes at John Adams Academy in El Dorado Hills. Village Life photo by Julie Samrick

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John Adams Academy opens

By From page A1 | August 30, 2017

John Adams Academy opened its third public charter school campus in the foothill region last Wednesday, welcoming children in grades kindergarten through seventh to its Town Center Boulevard location across from Blue Shield, with plans to add one grade per year until it serves children in grades K-12, modeled after the original Roseville location.

John Adams Academy was founded in 2010 and is fully accredited by the School Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It is the only classical education, tuition-free, transitional kindergarten-12 public charter school model in Northern California. Described on its website as non-secular and non-political, JAA operates with 10 core principles in mind to “prepare future leaders and statesmen through principle-based education.” These core values include: appreciation of our national heritage, public and private virtue, emphasis on mentors and classics, scholar empowered learning, fostering creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, high standards of academic excellence, modeling what we teach, abundance mentality, building a culture of greatness, self-governance, personal responsibility and accountability.

“(John Adams Academy) goes beyond academics, but teaches how to think and how to be servant leaders,” said the school’s Director of Outreach & Compliance Norman Gonzalez earlier this year.

Gonzalez said efforts to establish the campus in El Dorado Hills were in response to the “overwhelming demand from families in the region to have access to our program.” During the 2016-17 school year the Roseville site had 1,300 enrolled students with 694 on a waiting list. JAA-Lincoln opened on Aug. 22, one day before JAA-EDH. JAA-EDH currently has 240 students enrolled. Students are being housed in portable classrooms as officials work through the process to ready the adjacent 89,000-square-foot building they aim to make their permanent location.

Charter schools are public schools of choice that operate independently from the traditional district governance structure, but the school district where the campus resides or the county’s board of education is the school’s authorizing agency. Charter schools are authorized for five years and then are either renewed for continued operation or shut down.

The El Dorado County Office of Education is the governing body of JAA-EDH. EDCOE Superintendent Dr. Ed Manansala was at the first-day ceremony, as were other civic and government leaders, including District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl and District 2 Supervisor Shiva Frentzen, Sheriff John D’Agostini, school board members and representatives for Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Sen. Ted Gaines and Congressman Tom McClintock.

The hundreds of people in attendance witnessed what JAA students will take part in each morning — raising the American Flag, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the National Anthem and reciting the school’s Core Values, which are also prominently displayed in every classroom.

El Dorado Hills sisters Angel and Shalom Markham started the fourth grade and second grade, respectively, at JAA Wednesday. They previously attended Brooks Elementary, but their father Steve Markham said when he learned about JAA he felt it was “too good to pass up.”

“The program seems like a once in a lifetime experience,” he explained. “It’s everything you would expect in a school. We’re all excited.”

El Dorado Hills siblings Paolo and Pavielle Aulakh started sixth grade and fourth grade, respectively. They previously attended Riverview STEM Academy in Rancho Cordova. Their mother, Luz Aulakh, told Village Life the family decided to make the change to JAA-EDH because they want “a smaller school and different curriculum.”

She said she was impressed when she attended meetings at EDCOE last winter when JAA administrators requested a charter approval. “We were taken aback by the kids who spoke at the EDCOE meeting,” Luz said.

“I’m most excited to learn a different language,” Pavielle said of JAA. All students learn Latin before choosing additional specialties like Spanish, Italian, French and more when they are older.

Every class also has a dedicated adult aide four hours a day to assist the teacher.

School founder Dean Forman, aka John Adams, was present at the ceremony. His role is as a volunteer today, dressing the part, but he explained how the idea for JAA came to him when he was working on his PhD in constitutional studies approximately a decade ago.

“I was a concerned citizen and a parent wanting to teach my children what America means,” he told Village Life. “It’s an idea — an idea that’s loved worldwide.”

Forman requested to do a project for his dissertation and eventually proposed his charter school idea to the Loomis School District. “They approved the charter,” Forman said, and JAA-Roseville came to be.

Of the decision to plan JAA as a K-12 school, Forman said, “I love K-12. It’s a model that’s familial. It softens the edges of being a teen, as the older scholars serve as mentors to younger ones.”

Forman said he would eventually like to see JAA campuses “throughout the world.”

“The idea is uniquely American and uniquely entrepreneurial,” he added.

He said the parents who worked to make the two recent campuses a reality are an example of his American ideal. “They made it happen.”

Headmaster Heather Brown welcomed students and had them line up by grade with their teachers, noting to children the importance of being founding members of JAA-EDH. Brown was a fourth-grade teacher at JAA before being promoted to dean of academics and then headmaster. She now oversees all three sites.

For more information visit johnadamsacademy.org.

Julie Samrick

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