Programs » Special Programs

Special Programs

Garden Science

In 2009, Carthay Center contracted STAR Science to develop a pilot Garden Science curriculum that links California State Science Standards to hands-on, outdoor learning. This parent-funded program is a collaboration between Carthay Teachers, STAR Science Teachers and Master Gardeners. The garden program at Carthay continues to “grow” as its success supporting curriculum has proven to be a real asset. The garden has energized learning on campus. The students love science and have become environmental stewards, healthier eaters, and great observers of the natural world.




Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

Students can be officially identified for the GATE program as early as the end of 2nd grade, but typically identification occurs in 3rd grade. The student is referred to the GATE committee (which at Carthay consists of a teacher GATE coordinator, a parent, and the principal. Students whose abilities fall into one or more categories below may be considered for Gifted/Talented Programs.

  • Intellectual Ability
  • High Achievement 
  • Specific Academic Ability 
  • Creative Ability
  • Leadership Ability
  • Ability in the Performing or Visual Arts

State guidelines require that differentiated instruction for gifted/talented students build on the core curriculum and supplement it, therefore the gifted/talented “program” takes place within the student’s classroom. Differentiated instruction occurs when the core curriculum is modified and includes acceleration, pacing, levels of complexity, depth, and novelty with expectations for student production that are appropriate to individual learning interests, assessed needs, and abilities. Teachers receive professional development in educational programs that take into account each student's interests, talents and special abilities and to afford them opportunities for high-level thinking, creative expression, and self-understanding frequently at a learning pace beyond age or grade level as compared to that of their peers.

GATE at Carthay Center

In addition to differentiated instruction in the classroom, Carthay students in the GATE program attend special classes every Wednesday taught by instructors from STAR Education https://www.starinc.orgtion. The curriculum is project-based -  experiential learning designed to inspire the students; encourage their curiosity; and instill a life-long passion for learning. Within 24 weeks, students experience four different topics, each comprised of 6 classes that change by year.

Physical Education Classes

Students participate in weekly physical education classes with professional coaches that teach developmentally appropriate skills to students and ways to exercise and maintain healthy habits. Children in younger grades play games that develop skills (while having fun and getting a workout) such as Sharks and Minnows, Frisbee, and Capture the Flag. Children in older grades learn rules and skills for games such as basketball, flag football, and soccer. 

basket ball

Young Storytellers

Young Storytellers is a creative writing and self-esteem program for 5th grade students. Mentor-screenwriters spend an hour a week helping 10 students learn the basics of storytelling and create their own 5-7 page screenplay. The program culminates with the “Big Show” and entertainment professionals act out the student’s screenplay. The belief is simple: “Every child has something to say!”

REading Partners

Reading Partners is a national education nonprofit dedicated to improving students’ reading skills. Reading Partners works in Title I elementary schools to support students from low-income communities who are reading 1 month to 2.5 years below grade-level.  Community volunteers are trained to work one-on-one with students for 45 minutes twice a week, following a structured, research-based curriculum.

Based on a data analysis of the impact of the program, Reading Partners has identified their "target population" as students in Kinder-4th grade who do not have an IEP (students with an IEP are usually already receiving additional, more individualized services delivered by a trained expert who has more impact than community volunteers that participate in Reading Partners). Students who are not in the target population may also participate in the program if volunteers are available, and, in the case of students with IEPs, if the teacher, principal, and resource specialist agree the program would be a good fit for the student.

Students are generally referred to Reading Partners by their teacher. If you believe your child would benefit from Reading Partners, the first step should be to speak to your child's teacher. ​

If you would like to be a Reading Partner volunteer at Carthay, you can sign up by filling out this form. Select Carthay from the drop-down menu. 

Science fair and environmental exposition

In May, Carthay hosts a Science Fair and Environmental Exposition. Classes and students create science projects for the fair as well as a poster display. Concurrent with the Science Fair is an Environmental Exposition, with booths from groups throughout Los Angeles such as the Natural History Museum's BioSCAN project, Heal the Bay, the Theodore Payne Foundation, Grades of Green, the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, LA Storm Water, STAR ECO Station, and many more.

The Science Fair and Environmental Expo  is open to the public. The 2018 Fair & Expo was held on Saturday, May 12 from 11am-3pm.

Aquaponics System - Learning about the cycle of life

A new addition to the Garden is an aquaponics system, funded through donations on Donors Choose. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture, and provides a model for urban agriculture as a means to grow healthy and natural foods in an urban environment. The fish provide nutrients for plants in the form of their own excrement. The water in the fish tank is continuously pumped into a grow bed where the plants are located. The roots of plants act as a filtration system to clean the water. The clean water is then sent back into the fish tank. With the aquaponics system in place, students are able to study how fish and plants grow as well as to design and perform experiments to investigate and research a myriad of inquiries.

Writers' Workshop

Students participate in Writiers' Workshops to develop, write, illustrate, and celebrate their writing, following the researched-based methods developed by Lucy Caulkins.


 Art, dance, theater, & music

Each school year, LAUSD provides a rotating set of specialists to teach theater, dance, art, and music. 


California Dance Institute

The CDI program gives children a basic understanding of the fundamentals of movement, rhythm and music in structured, energetic dance classes with live musical accompaniment for 20-25 sessions in each school. Classes are taught during school hours, as part of the academic curriculum, usually for students in 3rd and 4th grade. Each class is taught by a professional lead teacher, assistant teacher and musician, each of whom has been trained in National Dance Institute’s methodology. CDI builds upon the school curriculum by collaborating with classroom teachers on skills-building, lesson topics and visual art projects. Schools also receive a staff development workshop for all their classroom teachers. Students perform in mid-point and culminating in-school performances for their friends, family and peers, and participate in a larger CDI performance with other school in the spring.