Frequently Asked Questions
Published on Friday, 02 July 2010 20:04
Why Environmental Leadership?
Our world is on the brink of irrevocable change. Droughts, deforestation, rising sea levels, extinction of species, pollution, climate change, and peak oil are only a few of the problems we are facing. We recognize the responsibility of humanity to conserve and protect our world through ecology, health and human rights. MarinSEL will build strong, innovative leaders, empowered to creatively and critically analyze these issues and formulate plans of action in response. Whether a MarinSEL student grows into an artist, engineer, teacher, scientist, politician, journalist or philanthropist he or she will be prepared to lead change in the world.
What is the basic difference between a charter school and a magnet school?
Magnet schools operate as part of the public school system and exist within a traditional public school. Charter schools, on the other hand, have their own charter that releases them from the public schools’ administration to some extent.
Why is MarinSEL a magnet and not a charter school?
Charter schools tend to pull good students away from the public schools in a similar way that private schools do. We believe that public schooling has much to be desired. MarinSEL is a “school within a school” that combines the breadth and diversity of public school education with the depth and integrated learning of project-based education. At MarinSEL, teachers guide students through inquiry-based projects where they apply theories from multiple disciplines to address real world environmental and social issues in our community.
Can students from any district attend?
Magnet schools do not have the same zoning boundaries that other public schools have, so it is possible that interested students from outside the San Rafael District would be able to apply. While preference to students in the district is desirable, this has not been formally decided as of yet.
How is progressive education different?
Briefly, traditional teaching methods are teacher focused. The teacher passes the knowledge and information in a didactic way to each student in the same manner. There are few choices as to classes or projects, and learning is prescribed by standardized measures. Progressive teaching methods are student focused. Though progressive methods are not rigidly defined, they share some common goals—that education should be integral with action, that learning should be multi-disciplinary, that a child’s personal initiative should be fostered, and that they learn to see themselves as active participants in the world around them. Learning happens through direct experiences and activities. At MarinSEL, teachers guide students in inquiry-based projects that allow them to creatively and critically analyze and apply theories from multiple disciplines to address real world issues in their community.
Why does MarinSEL teach Language Arts, Social Sciences, Science and Health/PE, and not Math?
A richness and diversity already exists in the Math program at Terra Linda High, which has a well-developed curriculum and great resources to meet students at their individual levels and ability in math. One of the goals of MarinSEL is integration of traditional coursework (e.g. math, languages) with Language Arts and Social Sciences through seminars, master classes and real world, field-based applications. Using an inquiry-based method intensified by a focus on environmental stewardship, students will apply the knowledge gained from all coursework to community service projects.
When did MarinSEL start?
MarinSEL opened with 9th grade enrollment of 25 students in the fall of the 2011/2012 school year. For the 2012/2013 school year, we will add a 10th grade, 11th grade in the 2013/2014 school year, and by 2014/2015, we will have a 12th grade as well.
How many students will be in each grade?
There will be a maximum of 35 kids per grade.
Where is MarinSEL located?
MarinSEL is integrated with and housed at Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, CA.
How much does it cost?
Being part of a public high school system, there is no required tuition. Schools like MarinSEL, however, do require extra funding. These funds come from a combination of a suggested family donation, outside donors, foundations, and grants.
How are the additional funds be spent?
This money goes towards specialized Language Arts and Social Science courses that emphasize an inquiry-based method. It also funds weeklong community building trips, project weeks using various types of media, and more.
What is the application process?
This is in development, but as of now includes a written essay, the students' community service record, and letters of recommendation, as well as an in-person interview and participation in team-building exercises. Applications for the 2013-2014 school year will be available soon.
What counts for "community service?"
Community Service is any volunteer activity in which the student has been actively involved. We are looking for commitment, passion, and dedication whether it is in Scouting, Church Youth Groups, Community Organizations, or other volunteer service.
Is it a lottery system?
No. Students are admitted based on their application packet.
How is MarinSEL legally structured?
MarinSEL is in the process of organizing itself as a 501(c3) organization. Until that time, Strategic Energy Innovations <http://www.seiinc.org/> will act as an umbrella organization.
I think this is great. How can I get involved?
There are a number of different things you can do!
First subscribe to our newsletter. We will keep you up-to-date on all the latest MarinSEL news. Newsletter archive.
Visit our Facebook page and click the "Like" button.
Spread the word! On Facebook click the "suggest to friends" link. Send people to our Website. Start talking about MarinSEL and project-based learning.
Donate to MARINSEL. We need visionaries like you to help MarinSEL grow and flourish.
If you would like to be actively involved, please feel free to contact MarinSEL at
Phone: (415) 507-2242
Fax: (415) 507 1975
* Depending on your tax situation. Please consult your accountant to see if your donations are deductible.