The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science

Southwest Charter School, the host of this website, has changed it’s name to better reflect the mission and vision of the school to The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science.

The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science continues to offers a different educational experience, encouraging exploration of the natural world and involvement in the local community through the arts and sciences. The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science is a small, public charter school community that is dedicated to providing a creative learning environment where students develop a sense of place and become stewards of the natural world and active citizens within our community.

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First PBE Workshop series a success!

Southwest Charter School, with a grant from the OR Dept. of Education, concluded our first series of Place-based Education Design Workshops earlier this month.

The first workshop was an introduction to Place-based learning provided by the expert teaching staff here at Southwest Charter School. Several teachers took advantage of months long mentoring by these same teachers to create, and in some cases implement, Place-based curriculum units. A few weeks ago, they gathered again to share what they had created and learned through the process. From the African American history of West Linn to the creation of an emergency preparedness app, the projects were well conceived and engaging.

Here is some of the feedback from participants:

“Very excited to implement my unit. I thought the planning process was easy (and) very fruitful and the mentor helped to support me with clear communication. Great class!”

“I wish I could go through this process again and again. It is so nice to be in a community with people who share my educational philosophy and to finally have a name for it: Place-based Education”

“Thank you guys for being so flexible with time and supportive. I have loved the resources and am happy to have been a part of such  great and inspiring professional development.”

The next series starts June 17th, 2017. If you would like to join, please fill out this survey to register. Currently active teachers qualify for a stipend and mileage reimbursement but all are welcome. Feel free to contact our Grant Manager directly as well at


Building Diverse Perspectives through Place-Based Education

Building Diverse Perspectives through Place-Based Education

By. Sarah Anderson, Fieldwork and Place-Based Education Coordinator, Southwest Charter School (Portland, Oregon)

Place-based education is helping students make greater connections between their lives, their learning, and the places where they live. Through this approach, teachers find ways to merge curricular objectives with the goals of local agencies and organizations with the aim of strengthening local neighborhoods, cities, and towns. There has been evidence that place-based education increases student engagement while decreasing the achievement gap. (Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative, 2010) But in addition to offering an exciting and successful mode for learning, how does place-based education help expose students to the diverse perspectives and experiences within their communities….

Read the rest of the article here


Introduction to Place-based Education Design

Please join us for our upcoming workshop:

Introduction to

Place-based Education Design

In this three-part teaching series, you will learn the basics of how to create and implement a place-based unit in your school.

Part 1: Saturday, June 17th, 2017 9:00am-4:00pm 

The initial workshop will give participants an intro to place-based education design and prepare participants for creating their own curriculum.

Attendees will be given: mileage reimbursement, 3 place-based books, and a stipend of $150*

Part 2: Mentorship and Implementation Summer 2017- Spring 2018

Participants work one-on-one with Southwest Charter School teacher mentors to develop and implement their curricular units.

Part 3: Spring Workshop 2018 –  Sharing and Evaluation – Date TBA

In the final workshop, participants and mentor teachers come together to share their units and talk about next steps.

Attendees will be given: mileage reimbursement, 1 place-based book, and a stipend of $200*

 Southwest Charter School

0640 SW Bancroft Street.

Portland, OR, 97239


If you are interested in signing up for our workshop, please fill out this survey.  Once you are finished with the survey, you will be registered for our upcoming workshop.

Please contact us with any questions you might have regarding the workshop.

*the stipend is for practicing teachers only 

The 9th Annual Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice

UpcomingAre you headed to the Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice?

We will be there!  If you haven’t registered to attend this event, you should!

For more information just click on Northwest Conference on Teaching Social Justice.

We will be promoting our upcoming workshop. Be sure to check us out!

“The Future of Learning…”

Take a moment to read John M. Eger’s article, The Future of Learning: Project-based*, Place-based, Experiential, Authentic, Constructivism.  Eger throws out that teachers are “learning how to give their students the ‘real world’ experience, solve real world problems, collaborate with real experts in the field and fellow students…and have fun.” This is a wonderful read for all administrators, educators, and parents alike.

Click here for the full article:

The Future of Learning: Project-based*, Place-based, Experiential, Authentic, Constructivism