Award Year: 2017

Sierra Expeditionary Learning School

11603 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA, 96161-4953

(530) 582-3701

Mr David Manahan, Principal at time of Nomination

Charter School

Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District

School Website

School FaceBook


To inspire a diverse group of learners to achieve academic excellence, develop a strong sense of character and community, and preserve each child's natural curiosity and love of learning.

Student Demographics
  • White: 74%
  • Hispanic: 21%
  • Asian: 2%
  • Native American: 1%
  • Two or more races: 2%
  • ELL: 19%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: 21%
The natural world and adventure are critical to student success.

The natural world and adventure are critical to student success.

Since our founding in 2010, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School has recognized the benefits of a partnership with EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning), whose foundational principles aligned well with the founders' ideologies. Concretely, thematic-based expeditions (interdisciplinary curriculum based on science or social studies standards, connected to our community, and incorporating service), character education, fieldwork, and the fostering of a school-wide culture of excellence provided the building blocks upon which the school has thrived, while simultaneously aligning to the values of the Truckee-Tahoe community in which the school serves. The professional expertise and resources provided by EL Education helped make the vision and ideas grounded and accessible.

Designing our programming around EL Education structures has provided flexibility in teaching and learning, allowing for a wide range of student abilities to be addressed. This flexibility is vital to teachers' differentiation of curricula, assuring students are being met at their level, an important aspect to increasing the performance of under-achievers while also allowing teachers to better address the needs of high achievers. Teaching is student-focused, hands-on, collaborative, and made relevant through classroom projects, community service, and curriculum-based fieldwork. Numerous student-centered structures and traditions (daily classroom morning meetings, weekly all-school community meetings, Celebrations of Learning, Goal-Setting Conferences, among others) foster connections to their learning, each other, and their community.

The blending of hardworking, progressive staff, our strong relationship with our school district, and our partnership with EL Education has provided the perfect ingredients for developing our very effective and well respected program. Seventy five percent of students are at or above state testing benchmarks, far exceeding both district and state averages.