Tamiscal Information for Prospective Students & Parents:
"Tamiscal High School is for students with unique opportunities & challenges in their lives who still want a rigorous high school education, but the traditional school schedule does not allow them to pursue or tend to these outside opportunities or challenges."What are 'unique opportunities & challenges'? All students are unique, but that is really true at Tamiscal! All Tamiscal students have something else going on in their lives. Some have unique talents (dancing, athletics, academic pursuits, learning style, professional interests, etc) and some have unique challenges (phyisical, emotional, family trauma, work, etc). The common thread with all of our students is that the traditional school schedule (5 days/week for 7 hrs/day) prevents them from pursuing these opportunities and help for their challenges. For those students who have demonstated the pre-requisite skills to be successful in the independent study model, Tamiscal High School is an option worth considering.
What are the 'pre-requisite skills necessary to be successful in I.S.'? Given the limited weekly instructional time (about 6 hours/week vs. 35 hours/week at traditional high schools), students need to have a) basic literacy skills, b) intrinsic motivation, c) self-discipline & time management skills, d) truly want to be here (not just the parents), and e) an authentic love of learning. Tamiscal is structured to be 'unstructured' so students have time to pursue their extra-curriculars. Our students are independent learners responsible for all aspects of their education with teachers & staff serving more as a mentor and colleague. Students do not have to be avid readers and writers, but need basic skills given the amount of reading and writing done outside of class time. As a result, our graduates generally report having excellent literacy skills compared to their peers in college.
Speaking of college, will my child be competitive for colleges as a graduate of Tamiscal? Yes. Our students are admitted into the same colleges and universities as our fellow Tam District graduates. See the 'Support Programs' portion of this website for more specifics. Tamiscal has the same TUHSD graduation requirements as the other schools and our courses have the exact same 'Course of Study' and rigor. Tamiscal students are learning and achieving the same as fellow District students, but with a 'college-like' schedule that provides evidence of their ability to be successful in college. Further, our flexible schedule allows students to pursue extra-curriculars and College of Marin (COM) courses that other students cannot. Tamiscal graduates have the advantage of writing a very unique and powerful 'Personal Essay' for their college applications describing their unique and rigorous high school experience.How do classes work at Tamiscal? Instruction is delivered to two modes: Core & Small Group. Core classes are the humanities (English & Social Studies) and PE (only 2 years). They meet once a week for one hour with a teacher 1-on-1. Small Group classes include math, science, Spanish, art (Ceramics & Photography), and AP Literature. These classes meet for 2 hours/week in small groups (between 4-12 students). By providing both Core and Small Group classes, students get the benefit and balance of having both individualized attention and the ability to learn from their peers in an intimate learning environment.What classes does Tamiscal offer? We offer all of the graduation requirements, but can only offer some electives given our small size. Any course that we don't offer, a student may take at their 'home school' or at COM if scheduling allows. In order to be considered a full-time Tamiscal student, all students must be taking at least 4 academic courses, per Board policy. If a student is interested in a course offered at both Tamiscal and the home school, the student must take that course at Tamiscal. Here are the typical course loads by grade level:Freshmen: Core (English 1-2, World Cultures & Geography/Social Issues, PE 1-2), Integrated Science 1-2, math courseAdditional courses may include: Spanish, COM, or electives at home schoolSophomores: Core (English 3-4, World History, PE 3-4), Integrated Science 3-4, math courseAdditional courses may include: Spanish, COM, or electives at home schoolJuniors: Core (American Literature, US History), Physiology or CSU Marine Life, math courseAdditional courses may include: Spanish, COM, or electives at home schoolSeniors: Core (Essay + English elective OR AP Literature, Econ/Gov't), Physiology or CSU Marine Life, math courseAdditional courses may include: Spanish, COM, electives at home school, additional Core Humanities electiveWhat does a weekly student schedule actually look like? Here is a sample schedule. Note that times and courses vary considerably by grade level, course, student need, and staff availability.What supports does Tamiscal provide? In the library, our SIS Tutor (Raymond Howard) is available Mon-Thurs from 10am-2:30pm. His major role is to tutor students in whatever a student needs. Raymond is a retired math teacher, has his master's degree in philosophy, and is adored by our students. He can help in all courses with the exception of Spanish and art. Teachers may assign SIS (Supervised Independent Study) hours with Raymond if a student is falling behind or needs additional help. Students with IEP's and 504 Plans carry them to Tamiscal. Students keep their IEP Case Manager and Resource period at their home school.What is the process to becoming a Tamiscal student? If you are a current TUHSD student, discuss with your family about the above and then contact your current counselor to discuss whether Tamiscal is a good option worth pursuing. If so, the counselor will fill our a Tamiscal referral form and your Personal Letter (1 page describing why you are interested in Tamsical) and submit to our Main Office. After review, the Tamiscal Main Office will contact you to schedule an Intake appointment with the Principal and Counselor to consider enrollment.If you are currently a middle school student or new to the District, you must first register at your local 'home school' (Redwood, Drake, or Tamalpais) before following the process above. Generally, freshmen are encouraged to experience their local high school for the 1st semester, but we will consider unique cases AFTER Spring Break in April during the 8th grade year for the Fall. These students must still follow the registration process at their local home school as with all 8th graders entering TUHSD schools.Students with IEP's must start the process by thoroughly discussing Tamiscal with their Case Manager.Tamiscal High School is only available to students living in the Tam District area, as evidence by 'proof of residency' requirements at the 3 comprehensive high schools during the registration process.What if I need additional information outside of the above and below? Contact your current counselor to learn more, as they are well-informed about Tamiscal, review the rest of this website, read the Tamiscal Times newsletter (under 'Parents'), contact a current Tamiscal student or graduate, or attend the 'Back to School' or 'Open House' events (see school calendar under 'About Us'). Unfortunately, we are unable to offer formal school visits or phone calls due to the volume of requests outside of the formal referral process outlined above.Other information:Another difference is that the teachers at Tamiscal High School are not like classroom teachers. While all of them are credentialed and have taught in the classroom at one time, the Tamiscal teachers’ roles are to evaluate what the students are learning INDEPENDENTLY, to encourage the students always to stretch at least a little beyond their immediate grasp, and to assign material that will allow the students continually to expand their skills.
Students meet with their core subjects teacher for one hour per week for English, History, PE, Art, and other Electives. Exceptions are the AP English or History courses, which meet once a week for 2 hours. The core subjects teacher oversees the semester’s master agreement and coordinates with the math, foreign language, and science teachers. Math classes meet for one hour once a week and have an additional one hour math lab required. Science classes meet two hours once a week and include lab. Foreign language is taught individually and meets one hour once per week. Photo and ceramics classes meet once per week for 2 – 3 hours.
The weekly appointments or classes are very important to the independent study method of instruction. Teachers use this time to evaluate student progress and to determine which new assignments will be challenging to the student. It is also their opportunity to get to know the student’s individual strengths and weaknesses which allows tailoring the assignments to each student’s needs. If a student is ill, the school must be notified early in the morning of the absence. The secretary should be told the names of each teacher with whom the student will not be meeting that day.
Students who miss appointments without an excused absence or who come to appointments unprepared will be referred to SIS (Supervised Independent Study). Parents will receive a letter of notification if their child has been assigned to SIS, which works like a supervised study hall. SIS is intended to be a support for students who are having difficulty making the transition to the independent study mode of learning. A staff assistant is present to help students with their work. Students who fall behind in their weekly test taking may also be assigned to SIS to catch up. Students remain assigned to SIS until their teacher determines that they are ready to work independently again.
Questions by parents:
Parents who have questions about homework or anything else should either e-mail or call the teacher of the subject in question. We all have phones at our desks, but we do NOT answer the phone during student appointments. Please do NOT call students during their appointment time to deliver messages, as this is the same as interrupting a class. This is the one hour that should be uninterrupted during the week.
Please check the Tamiscal website and or the sign out in the parking lot for updates and important notices. The Tamiscal Times Newsletter is sent home several times throughout the year and is also available on the website.
Keys to success:
We hope that learning at Tamiscal High School will be a rewarding experience for all students who choose to attend. The information that follows is key to success for any Tamiscal student:
- Appointments: This is the student’s time to have focused attention.
- Be on time. Bring completed assignments organized in a binder or folders.
- Call early in the morning if you are ill and must be absent. All work is due within 24 hours of any absence. Parents or a friend may drop off the work during the student’s appointment time or at another time by arrangement and pick up the new assignments at that same time. Parents wishing to confer with teachers need to make appointments so as not to encroach on another student’s appointment time.
- Weekly tests: Allow additional time at Tamiscal on your appointment day to take weekly tests in a timely manner. These are part of your learning process in independent study. Missed tests can result in lower grades and lost credit. Students who do not stay current on their test taking will be assigned to SIS to take tests.
- Earning credit: Credit is based on the quantity and quality of the work you complete.Teachers will assign work and grant hours of credit based on how much work was completed and the quality of that work.Much of the assessment takes place through discussion between the student and the teacher at the weekly meeting.Missed appointments impact the learning process negatively.
- Weekly Assignment Sheets: Each teacher provides each student with a weekly assignment sheet detailing the work the student is expected to complete that week. The teacher’s e-mail address and phone number at her desk are on the sheet. Students are expected to call for clarification during the week if they are unsure how to complete an assignment. Our software program ARISS is used to print these assignment sheets which also serve as progress records. On the far right side of the form, the number of hours completed in each course is computed. A student who misses three appointments OR who receives three “zeros” in any one subject is required by School Board Policy to have an evaluation conference to determine whether independent study is a viable learning strategy for the student or if a more structured environment is advisable.
- Student Responsibility: Successful independent study relies on students taking responsibility for active involvement in their own education. This includes setting up their weekly schedule, completing assignments, attending appointments and classes on time, and doing their best work always.
- Student Involvement: Tamiscal offers a number of ways for students to get involved and to interact with other students. Groups and classes such as Leadership, Integrated Science 1,2,3,4; Physiology, Peer Tutoring, Tamiscope (literary/art journal), Tamiscal Times (newsletter), service learning, workplace internships, work experience, and IWE (teacher or office assistant).
- Concurrent Enrollment: Tamiscal students may take classes not offered at Tamiscal at their comprehensive high school or COM. Arrangements to take these courses should be made through the academic counselor at Tamiscal.