• A 9/10 Learning Community at Sir Francis Drake High School

    The learning collaborative

  • Community

    Critical Thinking.  Communication.  Creativity.  Collaboration.

    What is The Learning Collaborative?

    In The Learning Collaborative, students and teachers work together to reach rigorous academic outcomes while utilizing 21st century skills. Our teaching teams believe passionately in preparing students for a world that asks them to not only be masters of traditional academic content, but also demands that they become skilled critical thinkers, effective oral and written communicators, creative problem solvers, and collaborative citizens.

  • Learning Model

    Project Based Learning. Culture that empowers.  Technology that enables.


    of learning...

    • Project-based learning creates life-long learners when curriculum is relevant, contextual, creative and shared.
    • Students and teachers own the learning experience, which creates a culture of trust, respect and responsibility.
    • Embedded, web-based tools enrich the learning experience.


    of teaching...

    • We believe that all students can learn at high levels.
    • In teams, teachers monitor student progress, plan projects and align instruction whenever possible. 
    • We value knowing each other well as teachers, learners and as people, and belonging to smaller communities within Drake High School.
  • Project Based Learning

    Students work in teams in the project based classroom and engage in a “workshop based” approach to instruction. Projects focus on developing proficiency in rigorous, clearly defined learning outcomes aligned with district, state and national standards, including Common Core. Workshops may include class discussions, small group activities, targeted skill instruction, reading, research, technology-based activities, instructional videos, lectures, and demonstrations. As much as possible, the students identify what they need at any given time to move toward benchmarks in the project.


    Our students’ experiences also include:

    • doing relevant, authentic work of the disciplines (work that matters)
    • working both individually and collaboratively to develop understanding (collective learning)
    • letting inquiry drive the learning (what do I know, and what do I need to know?)
    • technology that enables (what is the best tool for the work I’m doing right now?)

    In our programs, students are always assessed individually for their proficiency and understanding. Culminating group products are opportunities for students to apply their understanding in new and authentic contexts and are presented or published for a public audience.


    Standards Based ASsessment & Grading

    Students are assessed through a standards based grading model which ensures students have multiple opportunities to show proficiency in the learning outcomes of their TLC courses. Student mastery of specific skills and content through diverse and rigorous academic challenges is a key component of their learning. Therefore, punctual submission of work is essential in order for teachers to give timely feedback. This system helps us to personalize learning experiences for students and target each student’s individual needs. Semester grades are based on a student’s ability and growth in each of the targeted learning outcomes at the end of the semester. Those outcomes include:
    *Course Content
    *Research Literacy


    Teaching teams in The Learning Collaborative share about 100 students per team. The students take three core subjects within the collaborative:

    • English 1-4 (2 years)
    • Physics in the Universe (2018-19)
    • The Living Earth (2019-20)
    • Social Issues/Geography & World Cultures (1 year)
    • World History (1 year)

    Students choose their electives outside the program.

  • Policies in practice

    Some practical norms....

    Digital Devices

    Tools for Learning

    Digital devices are considered tools for learning. Students bring their own device or check out a device free of charge from the district. While in class, devices are used with the permission of the teacher, for specific purposes. "Recreational" use of devices is not permitted during class time.

    Revised Work

    Flexible Learning

    We believe students should have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning. Revision is encouraged and expected.


    Statement of Intention

    We believe all classroom environments must be mutually respectful and inclusive of all students -- without discrimination, where everyone is comfortable to contribute to and benefit from the entire learning experience. Any suggestions to improve class interactions or any concerns should be brought to the teacher's attention. Small team interactions in project groups are a good way to adopt this attitude of inclusion and enhance positive interactions in the larger class. We are a community of learners!

  • Projects

    "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." -Benjamin Franklin.

  • teaching team

    A professional collaborative homegrown in San Anselmo, CA

    Chizzie Brown


    I'm a local girl, born and raised right here in San Anselmo, a Wade Thomas Mustang, Red Hill Junior High Ranger, and Drake High Pirate ('86). I'm a 4th generation Marin resident and feel very fortunate to live in the community that raised me and that I am able to raise my own kids here. I graduated from Cal Berkeley in 1990, as an English major, which prepared me perfectly for life an English teacher. I received my teaching credential from Dominican College in 1994 and started my career at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek before coming "home" to Drake in 1997. At Drake I was lucky to land a teaching assignment in an upper division academy program, Academy X, working with educational leaders Bob Lenz (founder, Envision Schools) and Thom Markham (Buck Institute for Education). My training in interdisciplinary instruction, Project-Based Learning, team-teaching, and community-building has carried me to my work today with TREK, a 9/10 Humanities, Project-Based, Small Learning Community. As a lifelong athlete, I thrive in an environment that values and fosters teamwork and collaboration. When I'm not sitting court side or in the stands at my sons' sporting events, I am training to compete at the Platform Tennis Nationals or traveling with my husband and family.

    Dan Freeman

    Social Studies/Humanities

    I was born in the back of a Volkswagen camper van in the South of Spain in 1968. OK, not really in the van, but my parents did haul my siblings around Europe for four months until I was born. They even camped in Prague during the Soviet invasion. Mom and Dad instilled in me a sense of adventure and wonder for the world that I try to bring to my students. I am a San Marin graduate, have a BA in History from Saint Mary's College of California, and a MA in Education Administration from San Francisco State University. I arrived at Drake in 1997 to teach in the amazing small learning communities here. I taught in Academy X for five years, and have been teaching in TREK for the last nine. In addition, I founded the Drake Mountain Bike Team in 2002, and now enjoy teaching new coaches in other states how to develop their programs. In my free time, I chase my kids around the house and try to impress my wife with my cooking.

    John Hayden


    Fascinated and inspired by science and nature, I chose to study biology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. After earning my degree, I taught at several environmental education centers including the St. Croix Environmental Center in Wisconsin, Whale Camp in Canada, and the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California. At these centers, I taught students and adults about ecology, conservation and sustainable living. I also learned how much I enjoy teaching. In 2006, I earned my Master of Education degree from the University of California, San Diego and became a classroom teacher. In 2010, I joined the Sir Francis Drake High School teaching staff !

    Kathleen McCormick

    Social Studies/Humanities

    Even as a young child I had a strong interest in history and politics. I remember many animated debates around the kitchen table with my parents and siblings. I pursued a B.A. degree in Political Science and Rhetoric and Communications at the University of California, Davis. (Go AGS!) During my 3rd year of college I began to coach soccer and soon realized a passion for teaching and coaching. I continued my education at Davis and received my teaching credential in 1995. After teaching for five years in Dixon, CA, I moved back to the Bay Area and started teaching at Drake in 2000. I have taught most classes within the social studies department and have been a part of two small learning communities before joining the TREK team. Outside of school, I enjoy traveling the world with my family, reading, hiking, and biking.

    Raquel Nelson

    Social Studies/Humanities

    Following in the educator footsteps of my grandfather and father, I pursued a masters in social science education from Florida State University after earning my bachelor's degree in American history from UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1994, I moved to California with my husband and fell in love with the region. After teaching at two other high schools in the Bay Area and having two boys, I was hired at Drake in 2005. My oldest graduated from Drake in 2017 and my youngest will be a junior this year. It is a true joy to both live and work in this community. Besides my family and teaching, my passions include reading, movies and travel interspersed with some great hikes with my dog, Bahama.

    David Gutfeld

    Social Studies/Humanities

    My house is littered with history books. My wife is beginning to see this obsession as a hoarding mentality, but it is my passion. The past and its intersection with the present gets me excited and energized. I love learning about and seeing what happened and what that means. I make my classroom embody those passions. A native of the Bay Area, I have traveled and lived abroad and I infuse those experiences into my classroom. Having taught in the East Bay and Vallejo, I am excited to call Drake home and bring energy, excitement, and a love for the past. Also, I am an avid hike, runner, and outdoor enthusiast. Getting kids out into the woods, something easily done in Marin, is really important to me.

    Bill Skieresz


    My passion for literature and writing originally drew me to a career in education. After earning my teaching credential in English, my focus grew to include working with students with special needs. I went on to earn my Teaching Specialist credential and have since been working with a diverse population of students in Marin County for over 15 years. Helping students understand their learning styles and supporting them to be self-directed, motivated, and confident continually inspires me in my work. Away from Drake my time is spent adventuring with my wife and two young sons, playing music, hiking, biking, camping, and other cool stuff. I joined Drake in 2014 and feel lucky and energized to be part of such a dedicated and caring crew of educators.

    Alan Nealley


    I have always been one of those people that has been enthralled with the natural world. Most of my most treasured memories from growing up in Michigan revolved around outdoor activities with scouts or with my family. I was always curious about what I saw, or why certain things were happening when and where they did. It was not surprising that while attending The University of Michigan, I would find a home in the School of Natural Resources (Go Blue!). After I graduated, I worked for five years in the Fly Fishing Industry with Orvis, teaching fly tying and fly fishing classes. It was here, I discovered that I had a passion for teaching! Fast forward through a second B.S. in Biology from Eastern Michigan University and a cross country trek from Michigan to California along with teaching credentials from Sonoma State University and I was a high school educator! Since that time I’ve been a classroom teacher, coach, and administrator. I am currently working on my Masters in Education at Sonoma State University. I’m very happy to be part of the Drake family now and am looking forward to a long career as a Pirate. When not contemplating the educational future of our youth, I enjoy spending time with my Wife and Old English Sheepdogs, cooking, camping and fly fishing.

    Marli Fay


    My passion for supporting students in the classroom began at a young age as a natural response when I witnessed a fellow classmate struggle continuously without support. As a child it made me upset, as a teen it made me driven, and as an adult it gives me purpose. It is with flexibility, various perspectives, and a nurturing attitude, I am please support all students in need in the classroom. Outside of Drake, my life is filled with family and the great outdoors…especially the beach.

    Matthew Leffel


    I grew up in New York City, in an apartment where my mother kept our books shelved according to publisher. Her bibliophilia was my inheritance, with the result that when I was in high school, my idea of a good time was to catch a meeting of the Usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary. After graduating from Princeton with a degree in Classics, I moved to San Francisco, where I proudly worked for City Lights Books for several years before moving to the North Bay to begin my teaching career. A reformed musician, I now moonlight as an actor in my spare time, and can be seen annually perpetrating theatrical travesties with the Petaluma Shakespeare Company. I aim to pass down my love for languages, for literature, and for Arsenal Football Club to my young son, Solomon.


    Clarke Bugbee


    I grew up in San Rafael and spent a lot of time with my family on my grandfather’s boat. We would cruise in and out of the bay, spend a couple of weeks during the summer on the Sacramento River, and we even went to Alaska and back. After I graduated from high school, my love of the ocean and dislike of school led me to join the U.S. Navy; however, spending time in the Navy gave me a different perspective and I realized how important an education was for me. I graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in Marine Biology. Go Banana Slugs! From there, I moved to Hawaii (four years on Maui) and worked on boats taking people out snorkeling and whale watching. I eventually got my captain's license, took the helm, and became a captain. Secretly I wanted to be a pirate. I moved to Oahu and took the helm of a research vessel (still not a pirate) and after three years of that, got inspired to go back to school and moved to England to complete a Masters in Holistic Science from Schumacher College (Plymouth University). I eventually found myself with my now wife in New York City completing a Masters in Education and teaching in the South Bronx. Three years of NYC was plenty for me and we moved back to Marin. We had a son. I taught in Napa for 10 years and now I am finally a Pirate!


    Allie Sherman


    Obsessed with nature since childhood, I collected books on animals and devoured information about the environment. I left my small New York town in the Catskills for Portland, OR to study biology at Lewis and Clark College. Following some lab jobs and internships, in 2008, I moved to California to pursue research studying neurobiology and marine biology at CSU East Bay where I learned how much I loved teaching. I have worked, learned or lived at four marine labs in four states, hold a M.S. in Biology and a teaching credential from Sonoma State University. In my free time, I love exploring the forests of my back yard in Point Reyes, practicing yoga and volunteering with a citizen science scuba diver group that does long term monitoring of our California coastal kelp forests.