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Program Overview

McAuliffe is a K-8 alternative school within the CUSD district. Families must open enroll via the CUSD open enrollment lottery in order to be eligible to attend. For more information, click here.

"The results have been magical. I feel so grateful that I found McAuliffe. I feel like it's transforming my child to be a lifelong learner, leader, and socially responsible human being. I feel like I'm rediscovering the child within myself and learning to look at the world in a more engaging way.” -Parent, 2022

McAuliffe's program has been in practice for over 50 years. Below is what makes our beloved program unique, and what helps to foster a close-knit community of families who feel more connected to their own children, and to one another, as a result of closely working together with a common vision.

  • Hands-on Learning

    • McAuliffe values direct, hands-on learning experiences and a constructivist approach to learning.
    • This approach is implemented in academic content areas, and in specials such as cooking, gardening, art and music.
    • Field trips are integral to the program and several occur in each grade level every year, including overnight trips for older students.


  • Small Group Instruction

    • More small-group, targeted instruction can be accomplished because of the additional trained adults in the classroom.
    • In addition to parent volunteers, every classroom has a dedicated Instructional Assistant at least four days per week.
    • Small-group instruction allows our teachers to be more creative and targeted in meeting the needs of students.

"To be able to learn in a safe, caring environment without being afraid of failing or taking risks has been the most valuable to our family." -Parent, 2022

  • Whole Child Approach

    • McAuliffe has addressed the needs of the whole child for over 50 years.
    • Children learn by doing and by playing, and McAuliffe intentionally encourages both.
    • All teachers are trained in the Responsive Classroom, which is a student-centered, social-emotional approach to teaching and discipline. 
    • Students graduate from McAuliffe with several years of experience of interacting and problem-solving with adults and peers -- an invaluable life skill that the McAuliffe environment intentionally fosters. Our graduates excel in high school and beyond!

Development of Self Concept 

We encourage “the 4 R’s” in each child…

Reliance on Self: 

  • view himself or herself as an individual…special, separate, unique 
  • be self-confident, independent, assertive, free from intimidation 
  • feel self-worth 
  • express honest feelings and emotions 
  • feel competent, believing and having the capacity to function in the world  • have self-direction – making appropriate choices and managing time responsibly, with an awareness of his/her own interests

Relish for Life:

  • a delighted, participating attitude toward life, characterized by joy and spontaneity at home and school

Responsibility for Actions:

  • a sense of responsibility for his or her own actions, to accept the natural and logical consequences of his or her behavior and to learn to choose behavior according to its consequences

Relationship to Others:

  • to be able to form productive and satisfying relationships with others, based on respect, trust, acceptance, cooperation, consideration, and caring

To learn more about our philosophy, click here.

McAuliffe is similar to CUSD's other schools in the following ways:

  • same school year calendar
  • same common core standards and strategic plan
  • same district and state assessments
  • same special education specialists and resources