TLC NEWSLETTER September 2023

Welcome Back!

We hope everyone had a great summer and is excited to kick off the 2023-24 school year. Whether you are enrolled in the Homeschool Program or you come to onsite classes as part of the Hybrid Program, it has been great to see and connect with so many new and returning TLC community members. We will use this monthly newsletter space to highlight student work, success stories, community updates, and more. We look forward to a great year together.

20th Anniversary

This school year marks the 20th anniversary of The Learning Choice Academy. We look forward to sharing celebrations to commemorate this milestone throughout the year. To help kick us off, below is a letter from TLC's Executive Director, Debi Gooding, reflecting on what we have seen throughout the past 20 years as a school:

I would like to extend a very big THANK YOU to our Community, Partners, Educators, Parents, and Students – past and present – for embarking on this journey with us. It has been 20 years since the start of The Learning Choice Academy and as the Executive Director, I am deeply honored to share this remarkable milestone with all of you.

Two decades ago, our journey began with a bold vision – a vision to create a school that would foster personalized learning and relationships with families while also instilling a love for learning and nurture the unique potential within each student. This vision was not a solitary endeavor but a shared dream, one that rallied educators, parents and community together. After rigorous planning and a successful charter application with the San Diego Unified School District, we received approval to open the doors to TLC in 2004. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, it’s a fitting time to reflect on our journey, accomplishments, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

One of our most treasured accomplishments has been the success of our students. We have consistently achieved high academic standards and graduation rates, but more importantly, we have instilled a lifelong passion for learning in our students. Our alumni stand as a testament to our commitment, making meaningful contributions to society and their communities. At TLC, we currently have seven alumni who now work for the school in many capacities, including as Instructional Aides and Teachers. We are also seeing generations of families returning with their children to continue their schooling at TLC.

In addition to our successes, we have seen and overcome many challenges in the past twenty years:

  1. Funding: Like many charter schools, we’ve faced funding uncertainties and financial constraints. Creativity in fundraising, grants, and prudent financial management have been essential.
  2. Regulatory Changes: Maintaining strong relations is crucial with district staff and state assembly and senators. TLC has navigated changes in policies and compliance requirements.
  3. Community Relations: Maintaining strong community relations remains paramount. Occasionally, we’ve had to address misconceptions and misperceptions about charter schools.

Twenty years of running a charter school has also taught us invaluable lessons:

  1. Adaptability: Flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances are key to success in education.
  2. Community Engagement: Building strong relationships with parents, students, community partners, and stakeholders is essential.
  3. Continuous Improvement: A culture of continuous improvement and a growth mindset are vital for all to be successful in education.
  4. Innovation: Embracing education innovation is necessary to stay relevant and effective.

A very special thanks to our Educational Partners/Teachers – they are the lifeblood of our school and have embraced our vision with unwavering dedication. Through professional development, mentorship, and a shared commitment to excellence, our teachers have been instrumental in our students’ achievements.

Also a very special thanks to all of our staff, from aides and front office support, to the back office team -- thank you everyone.

A very special thank you to Kathy Bass, our fearless leader, who had the vision to move forward with starting TLC and empowered us to turn her vision into the amazing school we have today.

In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of those who have been a part of TLC’s remarkable journey. Together, we have built a legacy of excellence in education. As Executive Director, I am honored to have served alongside such dedicated individuals. Let us forge ahead with the same determination and passion that brought us here, and together, we will continue to shape the future of education for the benefit of all our students and the community we hold dear. Thank you for 20 extraordinary years, and here’s to many more to come.

TLC's current staff who are also founding staff members, all current staff, and students who are now staff!

Social-Emotional Learning

Each month, you will see regular updates, tips, and information focused on Social-Emotional Learning in this newsletter. For those of you who are new to this term, it refers to the following, as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning:

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) helps children and adults develop the skills we need for every area of life, from academics and careers to healthy relationships and overall well-being skills like managing our emotions, communicating effectively, setting and achieving goals, and making good choices.

When SEL is incorporated into schools and classrooms it has been found to increase students' academic achievement, social connections, behavior, self-esteem, and more. In addition, it has a positive effect on both students' and adults' attitudes, outlooks, and well-being. There are MANY reasons to make space for this each month, both in the newsletter and in our individual lives.

The Learning Choice Academy, led by our SEL committee, will be focusing on self-awareness and relationships skills in particular school-wide throughout the year.

Back-to-School SEL Tips

The following information is from the Collaborative For Academic, Social, And Emotional Learning (CASAEL):

Times of transition can be both exciting and challenging for kids, and going back to school is a big one. SEL can help parents and caregivers set the tone for a strong school year. Following are 3 ways to start.

Tip #1: Stay Connected

  • Make extra time to connect with your child as the new school year starts.
  • Create a simple daily routine, like eating a snack together or sharing one good thing about your day at the end of the night.
  • Invite your child to share how they're feeling about going back to school -- and listen!
  • Check your own emotions, which can impact how children feel. Model calmness and share what you're looking forward to.

Tip #2: Help them make a plan and problem-solve

  • Involve your child in making a plan for school days, from how they'll get ready to what will happen after school. For older children, also make a homework plan.
  • Make time to listen to your child about how school is going and how they're feeling about friends and teachers.
  • Empower them to solve problems with questions like, "What could you do to make the situation better?"

Tip #3: Keep communication lines open

  • Let your child's teacher know that you want to partner with them and play a role in your child's education.
  • Share any important information you want your child's teacher to know about them.
  • Ask what you can do at home to support the social, emotional, and academic development that's happening at school.

Student Work Spotlight

This month's student work spotlight comes from Ms. Glaeser's 2nd/3rd grade class at TLC San Diego. Students painted rocks with their own dot designs as part of Dot Day, a celebration of Peter H. Reynolds' book, The Dot.

The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

This book celebrates the power of creativity and is a great message for students to practice each and every day.

Student dots -- on rocks!

Testing Overview

With the school year officially underway, students and parents alike may be thinking about the testing that lies ahead of them this year.

In addition to the assignments and assessments administered directly by your grade level teachers, TLC runs a series of district-wide tests throughout the year. Each set of tests serves a specific purpose and we will do our best to ensure that tests are spaced out as much as possible. We wanted to provide some insight about why we administer these different assessments so you can feel confident that testing, and the data it provides, helps us to serve your students.

The primary tests administered:


  • K-12 students test 2-3 times per year
  • Used to measure growth in reading and math


  • K-8 Hybrid students test 2-3 times per year
  • Used to measure growth in math
  • MyPath is created from student performance to support learning


  • California’s assessment of student performance, required by the state as part of funding as a public school
  • Students in grades 3-8, plus students in grades 11, take this test at the end of the year
  • Summative assessment
  • Measures proficiency in grade level standards

Why these tests are important:

  • Tests such as NWEA and i-Ready, which are used to measure growth, offer us data that help to guide instruction and better serve students with support that is targeted directly to their needs.
  • Results from these tests are always shared with the student and parent and can be used to set goals for the year.
  • Student growth results that are captured through tests such as NWEA help TLC to provide an alternative assessment for accountability during our charter renewal process.
  • Results from the CAASPP tests measure how well TLC students are meeting proficiency in grade level standards and ensure that we are effectively serving our students.

A Few of Your Favorite Things

As part of our 2022-23 Annual Survey, we asked parents and students what they liked most about TLC. Here are the most frequently recorded responses. Thank you to all our students, families, teachers, and staff who help to make our school what it is!

Student favorites
Parent favorites

September is Hunger Action Month: How You Can Help

Every September, communities across the country come together to help take action against hunger. Unfortunately, hunger is a real issue in our own community. As Feeding San Diego reports, nearly 300,000 people in San Diego County are food insecure, including almost 80,000 children.

Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Hunger can have detrimental affects to student learning, in addition to student health and well-being. As No Kid Hungry explains,

Some data proposes that children experiencing hunger at home had lower scores in vocabulary and word recognition. The research also revealed the negative impacts of hunger on children’s social-emotional skills and approach to learning. In many cases, a child that enters kindergarten behind their peers will struggle to catch up, which affects their academic performance for years to come.

To draw attention to this issue, and help address it, Feeding America outlines a few ways to take action against hunger this month:

  1. Join the fight to end hunger by learning the latest hunger facts. Some people believe that hunger isn’t an issue in America. But that simply isn’t true. Every county in the United States struggles with food insecurity. Learn about hunger in your community and sign up to stay informed about how you can help.
  2. Go orange for Hunger Action Month. Put on your finest orange shirt, pants or accessories for Hunger Action Month and share a photo of yourself on social media. Tell others about the fight to end hunger using the hashtags #HungerActionMonth and #EndHungerNow.
  3. Become a regular food bank or food pantry volunteer. Over half of all soup kitchens, food pantries, and meal programs in the Feeding America network rely on volunteer support. Spending a few hours each month volunteering can make an enormous difference for food banks and the families they serve. Pledge to volunteer, then find your local food bank and sign up!

STAR Student Recognitions

September: Respect

TLC recognizes STAR students each month based on a determined character trait. September's character trait is Respect. Students are nominated by their Educational Partners and School Site Administrators. Congratulations to this month's STAR students!

Pius Johnson

Francis Johnson

Jax Rojas

Christopher Stewart

8th Grade Promotion

Congratulations to all the 8th grade students who celebrated their promotions at the end of last year. Below are a few snapshots of each school site's 8th grade group.

La Mesa and San Diego 8th Grade Promotion
Chula Vista 8th Grade Promotion


Congratulations to the class of 2023! Below are some highlights from their graduation ceremony.

College Bound & Proud

TLC's class of 2023 included many graduates on their way to great four-year universities. Some of the colleges and universities that our students will be attending include:

  • San Diego State University (SDSU)
  • University of California San Diego (UCSD)
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Grand Canyon University
  • And more!

Some graduate highlights include:

  • Kiana Antoine graduated with a 4.21 GPA while taking 6 college courses during her junior and senior year of high school. Kiana is pursuing a nursing degree at Southwestern College and transferring to a four-year university. Kiana was nominated for a ClickUp College Swag bag by Ms. Peterson and received several essentials for college, including a MacBook pro!
Kiana and Ms. Peterson
  • Kylee Salehyan was honored at the San Diego site for her strong work ethic, resiliency and eagerness to continue to grow through difficult situations. Kylee is attending Mesa College to pursue a Veterinarian technician license. Keylee's friend, Trinity Ruckley, meanwhile, is attending Southern Oregon University to pursue a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.
Kylee and Trinity