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Frequently Asked Questions

Asking a good question is half the knowledge
– Frances Bacon

Where did the name Chinook come from?
How big is your school?
What does it mean for a teacher to have National Certification?
Since this school is fairly new, is it sustainable?
Are you accredited?
Is this a religious school?
Couldn’t this be a charter school and be tuition free?
What are the hours?
Where are you located?
How many teachers are there?
What do the kids do for lunch?
Where will PE take place?
What is the curriculum?
Why does the calendar have more breaks during the school year?
How much does it cost?
When does my child have to turn 5 to start kindergarten at CSCA?

Where did the name Chinook come from?
There are many definitions of the word chinook, but we choose the one that means a warm wind of change. We believe this embodies the gentle, nurturing spirit of change and growth that describes our school’s mission. The name was also inspired by David Sahyoun, a Sound and Light healer, and his Chinook Academy.

How big is your school?kids-world
Chinook Spirit Children’s Academy is a small, intimate place for kids to learn. CSCA is accepting enrollment for our third year. K-8 students can enroll now. We can accept up to 24 students. After that, a wait list will begin. Once there are 12 students on the wait list, another teacher will be hired, and those 12 students will be admitted into the school. We will grow in increments of 12, since our student to teacher ratio is 12:1.

What does it mean for a teacher to have National Certification?
National Board Certification is the highest level of certification a teacher can attain. It is a rigorous certification process comparable to those found in other professions such as medicine, engineering, and law. Numerous studies have shown that students in classrooms of National Board Certified Teachers excel and grow at a higher rate. At this point, an average of 3% of the nation’s teachers have achieved National Board Certification. For more information go to www.nbpts.org

Since this school is fairly new, is it sustainable?
Absolutely. View our page on Sustainability

Are you accredited?
Becoming accredited is a multi-year process, and CSCA is newly formed as of 2014-15 school year. Though accreditation is not required by the State of New Mexico, we are still ambitious about seeking accreditation in the coming years through the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS).  ISAS is highly regarded as a member of the National Association of Independent Schools.

Is this a religious school?
CSCA is a K-8 spiritual school, not endorsing any one religion. CSCA teaches eastern and western philosophies. We celebrate diversity in being, thinking, and believing. Students can bring their beliefs with them to CSCA, no separation!

Couldn’t this be a charter school and be tuition free?
While the founders believe in public education and have their educational experience with public education, the spiritual nature of CSCA disqualifies it from receiving state funding to become a charter school. Charter schools are public schools.

What are the hours?
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mon-Thur.
View our Daily Schedule
View our School Year Calendar

Where are you located?
5621 Paradise Blvd. NW, inside High Desert Center for Spiritual Living. CSCA is not directly affiliated with that specific church.
View Map/Directions

How many teachers are there?
CSCA is beginning with two founders, Val Sahyoun and Holly Wu. Both hold New Mexico K-8 Level 3A Leadership license, are National Board Certified Teachers, have Master’s Degrees, and are mothers. Holly Wu and an educational assistant are currently teaching.  As the school grows, additional teachers will be hired.  Student to teacher/EA ratio will be 12:1 or LESS.

What do the kids do for lunch?
Students bring a sack lunch. Lunch is held at the student tables inside the classroom, in the garden,  or picnic-style at the nearby park, Paradise Hills Community Park. We are committed to clean hands and tables before and after lunch.

Where will PE take place?
If the class is indoors, CSCA will use our own space or may grow to use the gym at the Paradise Hills Community Center. If the class is outdoors, CSCA has “PE in the Park.”

What is the curriculum?
The K-8 curriculum is written by the teachers, based upon Common Core State Standards and individual student need. It is differentiated, appropriately rigorous, hands-on, well-rounded to include all subject areas and arts, and implements technology on a regular basis. Teachers employ small-group, teacher-led instruction in reading, writing and math.
View detailed information about the CSCA Curriculum.

Why does the calendar have more breaks during the school year?
In New Mexico, public schools and private schools seeking accreditation must have students attend for a minimum of 990 hours. CSCA honors those required hours by arranging the school year calendar with a 4 day week, longer breaks during the school year, and a slightly longer school day. Traditional school calendars may have a two week winter break, a one week spring break, and 11 weeks during the summer. We have simply put in a 2 week break in the fall and extended the spring break to 2 weeks. CSCA students will enjoy a 8-9 week summer. This benefits students to have time to rest and rejuvenate during the school year, so they can come back from the breaks ready to learn.
View the School Year Calendar.

How much does it cost?
View our Tuition Information Page

When does my child have to turn 5 to start kindergarten at CSCA?
We have a unique kindergarten opportunity for families who wish their child to begin kindergarten “early.” Generally, schools have an age requirement that your child turn 5 years old on or before September 1 to begin kindergarten. While we honor that September 1 cut-off as a guideline, we also consider individual needs of children, along with parental input. If your child closely misses this cut-off, but you feel (s)he is developmentally ready to begin kindergarten, you have the choice to offer your child a Kinder-Pre-First Experience. Via individual student assessments, we can structure your child’s kindergarten experience on a two-year plan, rather than a one-year plan. At the second Parent/Teacher Conference, a decision will be made as a team (parents, educators, and student) to decide if your child will continue onto pre-first grade for year two, or your child may be developmentally and academically ready to advance to first grade.