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Meet Ryanne Plaisance of City Kids School in Mid-Wilshire

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryanne Plaisance.

Ryanne, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Education is a gift. We enter this world eager to learn but often are left buried in a mirage of tests that will supposedly determine our futures. We go from having curiosity to staring at the clock in a classroom wondering when the bell will ring to release us. Our current education model dates to the 1800’s where we are still grouping kids by age and expecting them to learn the same thing at the same time. As a teacher and administrator, I wanted more for my kids. I could see their potential, their excitement for learning and I knew we could do better. We needed to do better. In 2007 I met my partner Paul and together we would dream.

Technology has changed our world at a rapid pace. Global communications are common practice in large corporations to small businesses and this trend will only continue to increase. Our school would have to be a language immersion school. Our kids would be bilingual and biliterate upon graduation. We wanted to take project based learning to a new level incorporating engaging real-world learning experiences into their weekly curriculum. Field trips twice a year would not cut it. We live in LA and the opportunities are endless. When our students study pre-historic time periods we would take them to meet with paleontologists and go on an archeological dig. Our project might be building a life-size dinosaur and bringing in an engineer to help guide us. They would study marine life by sailing in the ocean and working with biologists. They would attend concerts from various musicians and engage in a multidisciplinary art program. Every child would have an individual learning plan and teachers, parents, and students would partner to develop and create this plan. Students would be taught they have value and their education was a gift to own and work hard at. Financial literacy would be a class from Preschool to High School and social and emotional learning would be an integral part of school culture not something that might occur if there was time. Providing our kids with opportunities to learn in nature and play and run would be essential to the success and happiness of our students and teachers.

This is the school we dreamed about and we started to build our business plan. It was a concept that would be abruptly halted. In October of 2008 I became paralyzed after contacting a rare illness from eating bad fish at a restaurant during a board meeting. The next two years was consumed with navigating the medical world and hoping for a miracle. It’s funny (no, “funny” is not the right word) — it is mind-blowing how life works. Completely deterred from any dream we previously had, our new focus was on me walking and figuring out how to install a bathroom handle that would still allow us to close the door. Just as quick as you can blink, our lives had changed. I could write a book about this single experience of paralysis, but if I can highlight only one important take-away, it is that the unexpected challenges we encounter can provide us with deep knowledge internally and externally. It took me two years to walk again. Two years that I felt my life had been halted. It was the most difficult time but looking back it was in these two years that I gained more than any previous time in my life. Paul and I made it through stronger than when we began. We were content for the moment just being. We enjoyed walking our dogs and traveling. The smallest of things really.

It wasn’t until we welcomed our first child into the world that this changed. We named her Kyah Lynn and like most parents experience her arrival shifted our worlds. Beyond the diapers and late night feedings, the pictures and video recordings of every coo and gurgle, we thought about her education. We searched schools I knew well and others that were a little off my radar. We are lucky to live in a city that has some amazing school options. None of them however had everything we wanted. Of course, not! No school is that for anyone, right? We would have to let go of some things? Our child might have to sit in a desk for most of the day. If she went to an immersion school, we could supplement her arts curriculum with extracurricular activities. We might have to give up the idea of her exploring LA and going to concerts, hiking to waterfalls, and taking classes from paleontologists. That was the moment for us. No we wouldn’t give it up. Not any of it. It was too important. We wouldn’t settle for her education.

That is when our dream became a need. We moved out of our house and into a tiny loft apartment with our two dogs and baby girl in tow. We saved for the next few years. We met with schools across the nation. We asked questions and met with educational leaders and asked more questions. Finally, in the fall of 2015 we opened City Kids Preschool. In the winter of 2016 we opened our second location serving our youngest kids ages 2 – 3 ½. This fall, 2017, we will expand to open our elementary school. We feel blessed and fortunate to have had the amazing support of our community. Nothing happens in a bubble. This school is not just ours anymore. It belongs to our kids, our families, and our community.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the City Kids School story. Tell us more about the business.
MISSION STATEMENT
To create a learning environment that prepares students to become future innovators, globally responsible citizens, and mindful individuals.

What makes us different?

  • Spanish Immersion School
    • Weekly Field Trips and Specialized Classes
    • Individual Learning Plan for Every Student
    • Social and Emotional Learning Integrated In School Curriculum and Culture
    • Mixed Aged Classes
    • Small Core Class with Large Group Learning Opportunities
    • Global Education Program
    • Financial Literacy Program
    • Robust Multidisciplinary Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum
    • Daily Learning in Nature Experiences
    • Vegetarian and Organic Meals

Our Philosophy

  • Focus on the children and everything else will follow.
    • Play is messy … so get dirty.
    • Ask Questions, Seek Answers, Discover and Repeat.
    • Take Risks
    • Our campus IS the city of Los Angeles.
    • Take the time to breathe… lots of time… in the grass rain or shine
    • Eating vegetables can change the world.
    • Go Barefoot
    • Create
    • Be Kind, Be Thoughtful, Be Generous, Be Open
    • Take care of our planet
    • Read Stories, Tell Stories, Listen to Stories

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
Yes! Education is changing because it needs to change. Jobs are changing and the skills are kids need to succeed have changed. We will see the biggest changes happen from higher education first. Eventually these changes will trickle down to our primary schools. The thing with change, however, is that it is slow. As a species, most of us don’t care for change. We usually don’t change until we absolutely must. We feel most comfortable doing what we know. Perhaps, this is why our education system looks almost identical to the way it did in the early 1900’s. I believe we have reached a point where change must happen as technology has forced us into a new time. The question will be how quickly and efficiently we change to meet the needs of our kids’ futures.

  • Preschool Tuition $1600
  • Elementary School Tuition $1850

Contact Info:

  • Address: 826 S. COCHRAN AVE
  • Website: www.lacitykids.com
  • Phone: 3238394695
  • Email: mycitykidsla@gmail.com

1 Comment

  1. Madison Charap

    March 22, 2017 at 14:22

    Bravo Ryanne! This reminds me of what I’ve learned to be the Canadian School-Room model (or at least some of the schools) when that Time/Newsweek(?) segment came out about the detriment of the schools in the US. What a lovely organic and out-of-the-box way to look at education!

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