Herbert R. Kohl Open School

Herbert R. Kohl Open School Logo

Basic Information

Address: 4115 N. Crown Ave. Stockton, CA 95207
County: San Joaquin
School District: Stockton Unified
Phone Number: 209.933.7235
Fax Number: 209.472.7425
Principal: Lee 'Bud' West

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Herbert R. Kohl Open School
Herbert R. Kohl Open School

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Additional Information

School Type: Elementary
Accreditation: sure
Founded: 1974
Ages/Grades: K - 8
School Setting:

Kohl is in an urban district in the Great Valley of California about 80 miles east of San Francisco. San Joaquin County is an agricultural county with the concomitant disparity in wealth that agriculture engenders. Stockton is the urban hub of the county. Kohl Open School is nestled next to a large comprehensive high school and Walton Special Center which was set up to deal with Intellectually Disabled students many of whom are medically fragile. Kohl enjoys a good rapport with both.

School Schedule (Hours in Day): 8:45 to 3:00
School Days in Calendar Year: 180
School Holidays: The usual.
School Size: 243
Student/Teacher Ratio: 27:1

Kohl is a small school with a belief in a humanistic, progressive, constructivist, interdisciplinary, thematic, project-based, student-oriented, problem solving education. We encourage children to be complex thinkers, collaborative workers, flexible participants, self-directed learners, quality producers, and effective communicators. We prize the individuality of our children and encourage them to find and use their own learning styles.

School Performance: Spotty on tests, good in arts, fabulous in relationships.
Camp Programs: Yes
After School Programs: Yes
Awards & Recognition: Calif. Distinguished School twice. Title One Academic Achievment Award
Parking Spaces/Availability:

More than enough

Admissions Requirements:

Enrollment is based on a lottery that is held each year in December.

Admissions Deadline: November 30th.
Mission Statement:

See additional information below.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

See additional information below.

School History:

The history of Kohl is pedagogically driven, in that how we taught was the central driving force. Teaching children to read, write, math, and have some fun has always been at our central core. And we can provide that while being moved five times before we landed in our permanent spot, building trust and acceptance, keeping a loyal staff over several years, and laughing a lot. Kohl’s history reflects constant change while retaining its core. In a very real sense, “everything old is new again.”

Notes/School Information:

Kohl Open School is different.  Not just different in the way every school is different, as every school has different leaders or a different student body coming from different areas, different teachers, existing in different districts, and is different but somehow not different because all schools are really kind of the same.  No, Kohl is different because its DNA is different. 

Kohl is different because it was born in a time when its creators wanted school to be joyful, learner-motivated, and user friendly.  Kids should be kids and adults should be there to help not hinder.  Field trips were seen as useful and a vital part of personal learning.  Since learning was personal not only should the school be small, but everyone should know your name and it should be your first name not Mr. or Mrs. or Dr., or Director.  The belief was a school could be a community of people making decisions regarding their own time so there was no reason for bells.  And because it was a community, students were placed in classrooms of differing ages leading them to understand learning is ongoing and not limited to what is learned in a class of 10 year olds.  And actually learning didn’t have to take place in a classroom when walks, and nature, and others were around.  Working together was valued and individual grading was not, so children were assessed without the need for grades. 

As Kohl classrooms are different so too are assessment practices.  Reading is taught for the need to read. Math is taught because it’s everywhere, beautiful, and useful.  Science and Social Studies are taught to provide connections to everything and everyone on the planet past and present.  Assessment is projects, conversations, observation, art, music, performance or anything that emerges from the work.  Only peripherally are multiple-choice assessments utilized. Ironically, Kohl is able to apply for Distinguished School status because of test scores.  Odd doesn’t even begin to express it

Kohl is different because it was created to be different, and different it still is 38 years later.  Oh, it’s changed of course.  Now Kohl is housed in its own beautiful building after having moved five times in its life.  Instead of super-small, we are now just small with 210 students.  Rather than being a K-6 school we are K-8 because all Stockton Unified made the same change.  Where once we were the ‘Alternative School’, we are now a magnet school with a waiting list and a lottery.  For the first 25 years of Kohl’s life there was no principal and now there is.  The parent group has evolved from nothing to the Kohl Education Foundation with tax-deductible numbers, providing money for trips, stuff, and even gives college scholarships to former students.  Kohl’s seventh and eighth grade students are graded on the district Standards Based Report Card, but unlike all the testing to provide those grades at other schools, Kohl’s are based on actually examining the child and the standards.  Kohl continues to adhere to the founding principles of student focused learning while swimming in a sea of state testing, standards, and ever-changing philosophies of education.

Kohl is different because of an adherence to a set of core values from the 1974 founding document.  In the intervening years those core values informed all that we did and all that we are.  Kohl was built to be different and different it has remained.


School Motto: Sumus qui sumus