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Charla Harris,


Learning by Design Charter School is the brain-child and vision of wife, mother, and educator, Charla Harris. Charla is a certified and seasoned elementary school teacher and administrator who has devoted her time and talents to serving students traditionally considered to be “underserved”. She has worked in both the Compton and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Frustrated by the lack of resources and support needed to provide equitable and viable education opportunities to these children that others in more resourceful communities receive regularly, as well as feeling disillusioned by the limited education options available for her own children, Charla decided to do something about it. The concept of Learning by Design was born!


Charla has spent the two years researching, studying and observing a variety of non-traditional education models that are proving to yield substantial gains in student outcomes. She used this information to design a learning program that delivers a student-centered and authentic learning experience. This includes personalized learning for each student as well as opportunities for students to engage in hands-on and design-focused learning that promises an equitable, exceptional and empowering experience for all students.

Charla has a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA and an M.A. in Non-Profit management (Arts Administration) from Teachers College, Columbia University. She also holds both a Teaching and Education Administration credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.


Tawny Laskar,

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Tawny is passionate about ensuring that education and opportunities are equitable for all children. Growing up in a middle-class family, she attended various LAUSD schools in areas such as Baldwin Hills and the valley from grades kindergarten to 9th. Currently living in Santa Monica and having a school-aged child, she has experienced the advantages that children from higher socioeconomic areas have over their peers from traditionally lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This inequity is the fuel that drives her to push for schools and experiences that will close the achievement gap. She wholeheartedly believes that Learning By Design will provide that level of education and opportunity for the children of South Los Angeles.

Tawny has over five years of experience as a classroom teacher. She began her career in education by teaching third grade as a Teach for America corps member in Metro Atlanta. She went on to teach math, English/Language Arts, and social studies at KIPP: Path Academy in Atlanta and KIPP Academy of Opportunity in Los Angeles. Both are high performing middle schools in traditionally underserved communities.


She has also worked as a consultant for Insight Education Group where she supported the development of new frameworks for teaching in three large urban school districts and, subsequently, aided in the creation and facilitation of the trainings for the Frameworks.  Prior to that, Tawny was the Director of Operations for MLA Partner Schools (currently known as LA’s Promise).  In this role, she collaborated with LAUSD and the West Adam’s High School leadership team to remodel the operations of the lunch service, continuation program, and grant usage to increase student achievement. 


She has earned two Bachelor degrees from the University of California at Santa Barbara in Law & Society and Black Studies and a Master of Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University. Her non-profit board experience includes the Teach for America Associates board, MOMS Club of Santa Monica board, and the Valor Academy Charter School Board. 

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