Slavic Charter Schools Proposed for Arizona

Creation of Slavic charter schools in Arizona is being proposed by Sergey Soroka, a former Army officer orginally from Kiev, Ukraine.

In the late 1990s, Soroka helped organize Slavic charter schools near Sacramento, Northern California. He also served as a principal for the first 3 years, and now wants to spread their charter school model for excellence across the country where ever Russian and Slavic immigrants live who wish to retain their language and provide their family quality education.

In 2000 in Sacramento, the charter school started with 70 students, and grew ten-times by 2003 to 700 students. Now the school has 3 campuses with 1000 students of 8 nationalities, and a waiting list of 200 students.

The road to success had some bumps and turns. At first they founded the Honor School, which was closed; then transferred the entire school to the Slavic Learning Center (dba: Sun Valley Learning Center) of California Charter Academy, which also closed. In 2004 they all joined Grant Community Charters as Grant Community Outreach Academy (GCOA), and now successfully manage 3 campuses:
Many students graduate to attend Futures High School (grades 8 thru 12) which has a majority Slavic student body of 300, and is in the same Grant Charter Schools district.

Another popular option  is Community Collaborative Charter Academy (CCCA), a K thru 12 independent study program for families wanting home-schooling. About half of the CCCA students are Slavic.

By 2003, the Russian teachers and families created the best school of the year among 65 other schools in their district. They combined the best traditions of Soviet education with the American education system. Also, they nurtured a friendly atmosphere of open communication between parents, teachers and office employees in the Russian and English languages and cultures.

In addition to academics, the school develops students' creative and physical abilities, and includes spiritual guidance for families with a strong religious heritage.

In 2003, Soroka moved to Florida to join his friends who also immigrated from Russia, but he was asked to help other communities of Russian immigrants scattered throughout the US recreate the success of the Sacramento charter schools for their families. He says that Arizona laws are best for launching the next Slavic charter school, but parents and potential teachers and staff must join in the planning process and help manage the organization.

Soroka recruited a volunteer, Peter Pugayev, to help organize information planning meetings where parents, potential teachers and staff can openly discuss the possibility of starting Slavic charter schools in Arizona. The first step is to see if enough people are interested.

They began by interviewing parents and staff at the Russian Children's Center who have not fully embraced the idea because it is hard enough to maintain the RCC weekend program started 6 years ago.

Planning committees have already been formed in Florida, Oregon, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and other states, but Arizona appears to have the easiest laws for the charter schools in the country, according to Soroka. So he hopes a school will begin in Arizona soon, if local families will participate.

To help inform families interested in charter schools for ethnic Russians and Slavic families, a brochure and video have been placed on the Internet. The brochure is in Russian and English, but the video is in Russian. If you do not have Internet access, you can phone Sergey for copies at 904-859-4157, or e-mail him at

According to the brochures (in Russian and English), some of the advantages of their charter school are:
  • The charter school adds credited Russian language and literature classes to preserve national language and culture.
  • Students receive all necessary books and workbooks free of charge.
  • Charter schools are required to maintain the same government standards as public schools.
  • Charter schools generally are not larger then 200-400 students, much smaller than public schools. This helps maintain discipline and civil order.
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  • Download the Sacramento charter school brochure in Russian and English. (PDF, 2332K). To read the brochure, click on the "Rotate Clockwise" icon, or print it.

  • Download the Sun Valley Learning Center video (18 minutes, Russian language) to see views of the charter schools in Sacramento, and interviews with parents, teachers and staff.

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The entire Slavic Learning Center in 2003.

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The 3 schools regularly compete in boys and girls basketball and other sports and academics to improve their complete health.

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Administration office team, 2003.

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Shown (left to right): Principal Larissa Gonchar, with 2 Site Managers and Principal Sergey Soroka. The 3 campuses just had an academic competition won by Site Manager Mrs. Soroka who is receiving the award for leading the best of the 3 schools. To encourage improvement in academics and health, the 3 campuses frequently compete for prizes and honors.

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Administrative meeting, 2003. The skills Soroka learned as a military officer in the Soviet Union are transfered to organizing and managing a charter school. His profession in America is restaurant management. He nows lives and works in Jacksonville, Florida. The owner and boss fully supports his volunteering to create charter schools accross the country and is helping to plan a charter school in Jacksonville for local Russian and Slavic immigrant families.
Are you interested in more information?

Volunteer Peter Pugayev is planning meetings in March so the Russian and Slavic families in the Phoenix area can openly discuss the idea of starting a such a charter school. You can help to arrange a meeting in your region.

People to contact for more information:
  • Sergey Soroka, phone: 904-859-4157, e-mail:,
  • Peter Pugayev, phone: 602-466-1244, e-mail:
  • Larissa Gonchar, Principal in Sacramento, phone: 916-286-5170
  • Oksana Filatov, Administrative Assistant, Sacramento, phone: 916-286-5170
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Information on the Internet you can see now:

  • Download the Sacramento charter school brochure in Russian and English. (PDF, 2332K). To read the brochure, click on the "Rotate Clockwise" icon, or print it.

  • Download the Sun Valley Learning Center video (18 minutes, Russian language) to see views of the charter schools in Sacramento, and interviews with parents, teachers and staff.
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