New leader and expansion plans set for Park Century School

| March 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

DR. JULIE PORTER, head of Park Century School.

Started in 1968 by a parent dedicated to giving her son an education fitting his needs, Park Century School has been serving students with neurodiverse profiles ever since. Currently, 100 students in grades one through eight, some of them from local neighborhoods, attend the Culver City-based school.

The school’s new K – 1 Intervention Program will open in the fall of 2023, and a capital campaign is underway to build an addition and double the school’s enrollment.

“A large percentage [of Park Century’s students] are dyslexic, but there is a wide range of learning differences, and the school works to address all of them on an individual basis,” said Dr. Julie Porter, who took over as head of school last fall. Porter previously served as the middle school director of The Westmark School in Encino, and she has a Doctoral Degree of Education in organizational leadership.

Windsor Square’s Helen Hartung is president of the Board of Trustees and is a parent of a former Park Century student. She told us that Porter is a “talented and dynamic leader… she’s modernizing the curriculum and really emphasizing increased professional development among the teachers… We were in great shape before, but she is bringing a new energy.”

LEARNING with teacher Courtney O’Roarke at Park Century School.

When asked about strengths that she brings to the school, Porter said, “I think I bring an evidence-based approach to how our kids think and learn. By using targeted intervention, we can monitor progress and use the data to inform instruction.” A goal of hers is to build a community where students feel proud of who they are and see the blessings of their learning differences. “The school is good at building individualized programs. We are focusing on a growth mindset instead of a deficit mindset,” she said.

Porter was attracted to the school because she didn’t see enough attention in this part of town paid to children with learning differences. She said she thinks there is an opportunity to take families and kids from a situation that can feel like a crisis and turn it into a celebration.

‘Diverse’ Expo April 30

To help share resources with those not attending Park Century, Porter and the school are holding a research expo, which they hope will become a yearly event. It’s called “Diverse Minds, Bright Futures” and will take place at the school, 3939 Landmark St., Culver City, on Sun., April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The community outreach event will feature approximately 35 exhibitors, multiple speakers and breakout rooms to help attendees learn how to support their neurodiverse learners. Up to 100 free screening tests in areas such as rea

ding, language expression and comprehension, occupational therapy and focus and attention will also be available starting at 8 a.m., but those must be scheduled ahead of time. Contact

New facilities

The school hopes to be able to support even more students soon. The school’s capital campaign started in March, and the goal is to raise $10 million to help build an addition to the school and to increase the financial aid fund.
The new premier learning center will allow Park Century to expand its student body to 200. School leaders are excited about the plans designed by architect John Berry. Proposed is a three-story building with parking underneath, an amphitheater and an outdoor play space. Each parking space will feature a charging station (which could be used after school hours as city parking spots), and there are plans for a lattice of solar panels that would power the school and also feed energy back to Culver City.

The building itself will serve as the school’s creative learning center. Rooms will allow students to focus on movement education, visual arts, performing arts, gaming and the digital arts. It will also house space for educational therapy. Plans are for ground to be broken on the project in June of 2024 with a projected construction time of 18 months.

INSIDE the Culver City-based school.

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