Academically, the 6th Grade year continues to foster independence, refine study skills, nurture empathy, build leadership and prepare students for secondary school.
The “big kids on campus” enjoy their “Kindergarten Buddies” and share with them many special experiences. Our 6th Graders embrace their duties as role models and student leaders from the first day they put on their student-designed sweatshirts (an exception to the uniform for 6th Graders only!). The September retreat to Camp Ocean Pines strengthens the ties among all the members of the graduating class as they learn during “hands-on” ocean-themed experiences.
With a social studies curriculum that features both ancient history and international studies, by the end of the year all students learn and can locate on a map the name of every country and capital in the world and have experienced an in-depth study of the country of their choice.
Current Events evolve into Toastmasters, during which students take turns speaking to the class on topics of their choice. These have ranged from “The History of Marvel Comics” to “A Study of M&M’s” or “Magic Tricks.”
A “Walk Through Ancient History” focuses on Greece, Rome, and Egypt while, closer to home, a photo essay field trip asks student teams to create a visual representation that documents the hallmarks of civilization based on their observations of Los Angeles.

Service Learning

Service Learning is a large part of the 6th Grade curriculum which culminates in a focus on student-driven projects. The seniors learn about the value of meaningful service, and teachers emphasize the importance of asking questions instead of making assumptions when it comes to meeting the needs of others.

Washington, D.C. Kid Unity / Service Learning Trip

The research and exploration continues as students journey to Washington, D.C., where they meet with lawmakers, policy experts, NGOs, and journalists to learn more about their chosen causes. The service learning experience culminates in the spring after students return from the D.C. trip, having been empowered by their ability to discuss topics with lawmakers and field experts.  All are motivated and eager to finalize their project ideas.

Class of 2017-18 Service Learning Groups

List of 4 items.


    Students study the variety of factors that contribute to homelessness and housing insecurity through a unit that incorporates both literature and journaling. After building a deeper understanding of the challenges associated with homelessness, students visit Upward Bound House, a local organization that provides housing, financial assistance, food, and other resources to people in need. During this field trip, students become familiar with the infrastructure of the Upward Bound House program and what they can do to help both collectively as a class and individually. In partnership with the P.E. department, students then begin training to complete a jump rope Jumpathon, in which they jump for pledges. After incorporating counting and totaling of the pledges into their math lessons, the total money raised is used to purchase items to support a family moving into the Upward Bound House apartments.

    Students in grades 5 and 6 learned about The Nest in Tijuana, a play and imagination-based preschool that provides educational services to children and their guardians awaiting relocation. The students are visited by a children’s book author, who walks them through the structure of a quality picture book. They then brainstorm, write, and illustrate stories that include moral lessons and universal themes. Bilingual students translate the stories and a committee of editors choose the final pieces to be featured in Carlthorp’s Spanish language magazine El Mundo. Copies of El Mundo are sent to The Nest, along with props to help bring the stories to life. 

    One long-standing tradition is the Kindergarten and 6th Grade Buddies Program. Our oldest students welcome and bond with the newest members of our school community through a series of activities and crafts throughout the school year. These include Bingo, making placemats for Thanksgiving, and writing Valentines for Vets. Last year’s Monster Project added on a few new aspects to this special relationship: Mystery Readers who shared stories focused on different character traits, a writing project planned and written together, and a very special surprise made by the 6th graders in their Art class for their K buddies. Through the sharing of these experiences, we aim to build the necessary emotional intelligence around empathy to help our students make human connections. The 6th graders model for the youngest students what it means to be a Carlthorpian.

    • Civics and Change Club (5th-6th):
      • Students with a passion for politics and community building meet over the course of the year to learn about the civic system, beginning with a macro view at the national level and moving to understand the constructs of their city and neighborhood communities. This club culminates in a spring action project driven by the students’ interest and also provides them with a way to partner with students their age from other local schools. 
    • School of Dreams Pen Pal Project (1st-6th): 
      • In partnership with the Children of War Foundation, Carlthorp students are paired with pen pals from the School of Dreams in Jordan. Students exchange profiles, letters and connect via Zoom to get to know each other. 
    • Black History Month Gratitude Notes (K-6th): 
      • In connection to this year’s theme of Black Pioneers in Medicine, students wrote notes of gratitude to local healthcare workers in their community. Notes were paired with a small gift of handmade lotion from a local Black-owned business called yourDestiny Essentials to help repair dry and damaged skin underneath the PPE required to be worn during the pandemic. 
    • Family Groups (K-6th):
      • This monthly activity aims to connect students from every grade level with faculty and staff across the school in meaningful and interactive ways. Each month’s lesson is led by the group’s 5th grade student and connects to a tenet of the Carlthorp School Code of Conduct. 
    • Day of Service (Whole Community):
      • An annual event in which students, parents, faculty and staff, and alumni all come together to dedicate time to serving the local community.
    • Coming to America Interviews and Presentations (5th): 
      • In conjunction with their writing and history curriculum, students interviewed members of the Carlthorp community whose families immigrated to the United States. Students detailed what they learned in presentations shared with their grade level; finding patterns, similarities and differences between historical and modern day immigration. 
    • Washington D.C. and Iowa Caucus Journalism Partnership (6th):
      • 6th grade students spent the school year reading, researching, and writing about a variety of challenges in their community. These topics have included: Climate Change, LGBTQ+ rights, Immigration, Animal Welfare, and Early Childhood Education. The highlight in the spring is a trip to Washington D.C. coordinated by Carlthorp School partner KidUnity. Students met with advocacy groups, politicians, journalists, and more to discuss their target issues. Upon returning home, students continued their education through an action project in their community.  
      • 6th grade students and Carlthorp School alumni traveled as journalists to the Iowa caucuses in 2016 and 2020 to interview presidential candidates, campaign managers, voters, and more. We invite you to visit the blog to read about their experience in 2020:

Meet the Team

List of 5 items.

  • Sachi Hillson

    Sachi completed undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon and subsequently earned her Teaching Credential and Master’s in Education from Loyola Marymount University. She joined the Carlthorp School faculty in 2000 and spent a number of years teaching 1st Grade, 2nd Grade and then 5th Grade before becoming Head Librarian in 2009 with a Library Media Teacher Services Credential from California State University, Long Beach. Sachi is a proud member of the selection committee for the Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature. In 2015 she returned to the 5th Grade classroom and then moved to her current position in 6th Grade . In her free time Sachi enjoys going to concerts and exploring Los Angeles with her husband Michael and son Trent.
  • Ausra Venckus

    Ausra Venckus is a graduate of UCLA with Bachelor of Arts degrees in International Development Studies and in History, in part studying at the American University of Paris. Ausra began her education career in Seoul, South Korea, as a K-8 English instructor.  She later pursued advanced degrees at Columbia University Teachers College in the City of New York, where she earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum & Teaching of Elementary Inclusive Education along with her multiple subject teaching credential. Sunny California lured Ausra back home to teach middle school math at St. Martin of Tours School in Brentwood, where she served as the Math Department Chair for several years.  Ausra has been a sixth grade teacher at Carlthorp School since 2015.  

    A fun fact about Ausra is that she is a dual Lithuanian-American citizen.   She has an overwhelming TASCHEN art book collection (she worked in the Beverly Hills TASCHEN gallery for a few years). When she isn't surrounded by books, Ausra enjoys surrounding herself with mountains.
  • Brent Vernon

    Brent was born and raised in Harrah, Oklahoma, a small suburb of Oklahoma City. He graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a major in Theatre Education. After that, he moved to Toronto, Canada, to work for a leading international children’s education NGO called WE as a lead program facilitator and motivational speaker. Following two years in Toronto he moved to Santa Monica. Mr. Vernon has been a teacher at Carlthorp School since 2008 with experience in Kindergarten, 3rd Grade, 6th Grade and lower grade drama classes. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and directing children’s plays, reading, watching documentaries (Won’t You Be My Neighbor? being his favorite), and journaling while viewing the sunset at Palisades Park.
  • Polly Weller

    This is Polly’s third year teaching at Carlthorp School. She was born in Hong Kong and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. She attended Colgate University in upstate New York, where she majored in Latin. Polly then moved to London, where, after completing her teacher training, she taught the equivalent of 1st Grade for three years. After a total of six years in the U.K., Polly moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master of Education in Teaching from Pepperdine University. In her free time Polly loves to read, spend time on the beach and go on hikes.
  • Derrick Williamson

    Derrick was born and raised in the Detroit metropolitan area before repairing to Washington, D.C., as a matriculate of Howard University. At Howard, he earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and earned his master’s degree in African-American Studies at UCLA. He’s the proud father of a Carthorp School student and a Carlthorp School graduate. Derrick’s career in education began eight years ago as an assistant in a 1st Grade classroom at Lou Dantzler Elementary, a charter school in the ICEF network. Soon after, he earned his multiple-subject teaching credential and began as an Intervention Teacher at KIPP LA (Knowledge Is Power Program). Following that, Derrick taught in a Kindergarten classroom at KIPP Empower Academy, after which he moved to 1st Grade for three years and finally to 4th Grade for two years. Derrick will continue to teach 6th Grade at Carlthorp School while assisting with admissions.