Monday, September 27, 2010

LePort Schools' New Web Site

LePort Schools is a group of schools (pre-school through junior high) in Orange County, California.  I have a few friends who work there, and I attended a course at OCON this summer given by Ray Girn, their CEO.

LePort recently unveiled a new web site.  It holds an amazing wealth of information that can be useful for just about all parents.  I'm particularly excited about it because of how much it is going to help me with homeschooling.  It may sound crazy, but this web site will replace Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Trained Mind as my homeschooling bible.  It's that rich, and that good.

The web site goes beyond giving some vague mission statement with a hodgepodge of ideas thrown in, as most school web sites do.  In dozens of organized, easy-to-navigate pages, rich with content (and beautiful photos), it covers just about everything that makes LePort what it is: pedagogy, curriculum, motivation, teacher qualifications, enrichment, personal development, and more.  Every principle is clearly related to the school's mission:
Our Goal: A Student Who Flourishes As A Joyous Child Today, and As A Successful Adult Tomorrow

To give you a taste of what you will find at this web site, here are a few quotes.

From the page, How We Teach Mathematics (this is one paragraph of fifteen on this page, and this page is one of five discussing grades 4-8 math alone):
The facts practice component helps students build computational speed and retain basic facts such as mental multiplication (9 x 12 = 108), fraction-percentage equivalents (1/8 = 12.5%) and measurement conversions (1 mi = 1760 yds). Students start each class with a timed facts practice quiz that encourages them to improve their scores day after day. When someone says, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, Have you any _______", the word wool immediately jumps to mind. No effort is required. The goal of our facts practice program is to enable our students to similarly access a range of math facts without effort—so that they can instead use that effort towards analyzing a complex problem.

From the page, How We Teach Science:
We teach science based on observations our students can make of the world. This ensures that science remains about discovering the world, not memorizing mere jargon. For example, in astronomy, a fourth or fifth grader learns to identify some useful and interesting constellations, and spends time observing the regular motions of the planets, moon and sun. He learns to predict their positions, and therefore develops skills in thinking like a scientist.

From the page, Encourage Curiosity:
At LePort, we motivate by the “detective story principle”: we start with the child’s natural desire to learn, and appeal to that desire by presenting, at the start of a lesson, material that raises a question in the child’s mind. Once we have awakened his curiosity, we then present him with the content of the lesson – content he is eager to understand and apply because of the way it has been presented to him.

From the page, Apply Through "Work":
We are deliberate with the exercises we create: applying knowledge happens when students have to think about the content; thus, our exercises are not “popsicle stick” projects, or papier-mâché dioramas – but require real intellectual work.

If you go to the Literature pages, you'll find a partial list of books that they use in their curriculum.  If you go to the Mathematics pages, you'll find out which well-known homeschooling curriculum they've modified for their own use.  The Language Arts pages are particularly helpful to me because I've been struggling with how to properly outline my goals for Sam in what was always thrown together as "English" when I was in school.  There are concrete examples of all kinds of things they do at LePort, like playing "Editor in Chief" in grammar, actual word problems used in 4th grade math, etc.  It's really impossible to capture the breadth and depth of information available.  The only thing missing is the actual curriculum!  Oh, and they have a newsletter.

Outside of those who are actually considering LePort schools and homeschoolers, I think anyone who is actively searching for a school in any part of the country, or even those vaguely dissatisfied with their child's current school should check out this web site.  LePort is what a school might and ought to be, and this site is what a school web site might and ought to be.


  1. How embarrassing that I made a grammatical error in the first sentence. I guess three edits was not enough. Were not enough?

    I wish I could go to LePort.

  2. I can't wait to peruse it. I refer to the Well Trained Mind ALL THE TIME, and if it could replace that, I am amazed! Thanks for reviewing it!

  3. I wonder how their homeschooling outreach is going. I hope they are still offering consultation and sincerely hope they come up with an on-line curriculum! That would be fabulous!

  4. Kelly, the web site definitely can't completely replace TWTM. I just meant that I'm going to use the basic framework of what I've found on the Leport site to help me develop my curriculum and methods. I'll still need a ton of guidance to actually choose curriculum, and if I recall, TWTM has a wealth of information on those resources. In fact, I really need to skim TWTM again, soon!

  5. Kim, please tell me what you mean by "still offering consultation." Consultation? I'd like some of that, I think.

  6. Jane Martin, about a year ago, let me know that at the time she was doing some work related to homeschoolers. At the time it was limited to consultations. I haven't heard anything since. I hadn't felt a need, but I was obviously ignorant of all they had to offer! She's on Facebook.

  7. Thanks for the great review of this terrific resource.

  8. This is clearly an excellent school. So tantalizing and frustrating that locations of objective education school are limited to Orange County. I understand that many Objectivists reside there (near ARI) but is there really not enough market elsewhere? There are many Objectivists in other cities and maybe non-Objectivists who appreciate a good school. (Neither VDA nor LePort offer any hope of expanding more broadly... I've asked.)

  9. Bart, like Kim (and many others), I'm just hoping that LP or VDA will start selling their curriculum. I don't think that, or expansion, is totally out of the question. It's just probably not going to happen in time for my needs.

    I think it's a mistake to assume that these schools would require Objectivists as customers. I'm sure there is a market for schools like this everywhere, especially with good marketing like this. There might be more of an issue with getting enough quality faculty and staff, though.