VACAVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — More than 1,000 students are waiting their turn for a chance to get into a Vacaville charter school after hearing about its recent academic success.

Success is not the word many would use over the few years when dealing with the pandemic, but for the staff and students at Kairos Public Schools, success is a word that they’re pleased to share given what they’ve endured.

A few minutes before Lauren Goff’s fourth grade class, it was clear that having fun while learning is a top priority. 

“I wanted to do something that was rigorous and engaging, something that they love,” Goff said. “Team tasks, I give them some problems and they work together.” 

Goff’s students were studying fractions with a side of jumping jacks and it’s this type of engagement with her students that took her through the difficult times during the pandemic.

“Working together as a team really helped us navigate those challenges,” Goff said.

The challenges in the early days of the pandemic included closing down the charter school of 650 students for months at a time.

The charter school’s cofounder Jared Austin said he wanted to focus on being as transparent as possible not only to the staff but to parents as well.

“In the middle of it, it was a very scary moment and there was a lot of fear,” Austin said.

Through that fear, Austin credits the teachers for having the courage to take on the challenge of making sure all the students didn’t fall behind.

“We created a system together,” Austin said. “Through that, it united and created a cohesiveness that just translated into the success of the students.”

That system ended up working after seeing the results of the 2021-2022 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress test scores.

“The students obviously performed better than the rest of California and we believe it’s because of the student-first approach that we had,” Austin said.

In English and language arts, Kairos performed about 18% better than students all across the state and more than 19% better than those within the Vacaville Unified School District.

In math, Kairos beat the state average by 13% and more than 17% higher than students in Vacaville Unified. 

“Now looking back, we’re very proud of our staff, particularly our teachers,” Austin said. “Our teachers are the difference makers.”

For someone who essentially worked the front lines during the pandemic, seeing those results assures Goff of what she and her students went through during that time was worth it.

“They’re thriving in amongst a whole storm that was going on around them,” Goff said. 

She believes the key to success is making these students feel like they’re at home when they’re in her classroom.

“I just love working with kids and I try to create an atmosphere, of we are a family,” Goff said.

Kairos is looking to expand by building a new campus a few miles from its current location on 129 Elm Street.