For five decades, the Olympia Community School (OCS) has been offering local students a highly engaging learning experience in a unique private elementary school that is entirely operated by parents. And if local families are looking for such an alternative school, OCS has openings for K-5 students in the 2024-2025 school year. The application process to enroll is underway, with an open house on February 28, 2024. Families can also arrange a tour.

From left: Becky Schmid, Krystal Reyes and Jeriann Schriner, teachers and staff at Olympia Community School. They invite families to check out the unique parent-run elementary school located on Karen Frazier Road. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

“From a parent’s perspective, this program does a good job of instilling the love of learning,” says Megan Rue, parent of two OCS students and former board president. She describes that small classes, dedicated parent volunteers and a great teacher team are just three keys to that success.

“The teachers are the heart of the school,” Rue says. “They do a really good job.”

Olympia Community School is a Private Nonprofit Alternative Elementary Education Program Serving Students for 50 Years

Founded as a nonprofit elementary school in 1973, OCS operates under the approval of the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction. The OCS mission is to provide quality elementary education that inspires, motivates and challenges students in a secular school with a 1:14 teacher-student ratio. “The ration is low,” says Becky Schmid, a kindergarten teacher at Olympia Community School. “The teachers have the time and energy to focus on each child.”

a classroom with tables and chairs at Olympia Community School
Olympia Community School instills the love of learning in small classes with a 1:14 teacher-student ratio at the alternative elementary school offering kindergarten through fifth grade. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

The curriculum is based on thematic learning with six core values, in a program driven by children’s developmental readiness and interests. “The role students play in assessing their strengths is to keep them motivated and pushing themselves,” says Jeriann Schriner, first and second grade teacher at Olympia Community School. “That’s where a lot of learning grows. It’s a great way to empower children and to help them take control of their learning. We want to be aware of where they are as a learner, and celebrate that.”

OCS families give the school high marks when their children move on to middle and high schools, especially on social skills development. “We have a curriculum that is heavy into social and emotional work,” says Schriner.

Olympia Community School Delivers Indoor and Outdoor Learning Spaces for Quality Elementary Education

In 2020, Olympia Community School acquired its current location in a residential area off Karen Frazier Road. The indoor facilities house three classrooms including one primarily for kindergarteners, one for first and second graders, and one for third through fifth graders, although all students are taught in multi-age settings. Younger students have older student “buddies” who help them read and navigate their day. “We have all these sweet moments that happen,” says Schmid. “We connect kids of different ages.”

First grader Elijah Reyes (pictured) demonstrates his skills on the climbing wall in one of the outdoor areas at Olympia Community School. OCS opened in 1973 as a private nonprofit elementary school that is uniquely operated by parents. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

OCS incorporates the school’s love of learning in the outdoors as well, in two play areas that provide covered space and tables for outdoor instruction and eating. Schriner says the program provides a lot of outdoor time. “The number one question I get from potential parents is how much outside time we have,” adds Krystal Reyes, Olympia Community School enrollment coordinator.

One surprising feature in the outdoor area is a pen with Emma and Bubbles, the school’s two goats. “They live here,” shares Reyes. “The kids love to brush them. They came with the school. We call teacher Lauren [Booher] our ‘official goat tender.’”

two white goats with a rainbow-colored shed
Krystal Reyes, Olympia Community School parent and enrollment coordinator, checks on Bubbles and Emma, the school’s goats. She says families considering Olympia Community School are welcome to tour and apply for 2024-2025 school year openings. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

‘It Takes a Village’ Defines Unique Parent-Operated Private Independent School in Olympia

The expression “it takes a village to raise a child” defines the OCS operations method, where all parents must volunteer 45 hours per family each academic year. This required time commitment is what makes the school function. Parents serve as the governing board, perform all administrative tasks, and maintain the facility and grounds. They also provide their children with transportation, lunches and snacks. “We have no principal or janitor or secretary or vice-principal,” says Rue. “We have the parents.”

Six parent coordinators take on certain responsibilities to keep the school running. One of those is Reyes who is the enrollment contact and parent of an OCS first-grader. Reyes says openings are available for the 2024-2025 school year and now is the time to apply.

Reyes says as part of the admissions process, parents and new students must take a tour to help them see if the school is a good fit. Reyes is helping to organize the open house and tours. The process also requires a written application, $25 application fee, and meeting the OCS community. OCS parents pay yearly tuition and fees. Some financial assistance is available, plus OCS offers a 15% tuition discount for families with enrolled siblings.

Visit Olympia Community School During Feb. 28 Open House or Schedule a Tour

If you are looking for a unique private elementary school in the Olympia area, visit the Olympia Community School website, contact Reyes by phone or email at enrollment@olyedu.org to arrange a tour, or attend the Feb. 28 open house where you can meet OCS teachers and parents.

Olympia Community School
1939 Karen Frazier Road, Olympia


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