About Us Awards/Media To Seek Admission Frequently Asked Questions To Hire Us Contact

Life Learning Academy
651 - 8th Street,
Treasure Island
San Francisco, CA 94130
415-397-8957 (Phone)
415-397-9274 (FAX)



Project-Based Lessons

The Life Learning program combines traditional academic classes with vocationally oriented themes and activities to demonstrate the integration of learning required in the real world. While most schools focus on either academic or vocational skills for students that display an aptitude for one or the other, we believe that learning in one area enhances learning in the other. For example, students who have not displayed an interest or aptitude in mechanical skills learn vocational skills through academics (e.g. applying math skills to construction work). Other students with limited academic skills but strong mechanical aptitude enter academics through work at the Crossroads Café, Organic Garden, Retail Bike Shop (e.g., learning entrepreneurial and math skills through purchasing food, developing inventory, or working the cash register).

The Life Learning Academy has been written up in several books including chapters in Literacies Across Educational Contexts (Brian V. Street, Editor, 2005) and Independence Movement in the U.S. Public Education (Unoura Hiroshi, 2001).


Culinary Arts Program & Crossroads Café
The Café program exemplifies the approach to academics and vocation at LLA. In our commercial kitchen, students work with restaurant and catering chefs to prepare daily meals for the school, as well as food for the commercial Crossroads Café by the Bay, a café built and operated by LLA students that sells an average of 120 meals daily. The café and academic classes teach computer programming for inventory control, advanced math for bookkeeping and communication and speech for sales along with the culinary arts. Researching the history and traditions of a given culture to determine menu and ingredients becomes a lesson in history and cultural diversity that enhances literacy and sharpens students’ library and internet research skills. Students learn to grow and harvest herbs and vegetables and plan meals with an emphasis on health and nutrition.

Crossroads Café by the Bay, renovated by Delancey Street residents.

Organic Opportunities
Students designed and created a 1,000 square foot organic garden in our schoolyard. The garden features a variety of produce, an outdoor classroom, and native plant species. It is a true group effort, with students, teachers and volunteers working side-by-side to build garden beds and a greenhouse and to plant and maintain crops. Our Biology, Math, Economics and Culinary Arts teachers have joined forces to develop “Organic Opportunities,” a hands-on garden curriculum that teaches students about food production and nutrition. Crops are used in the school’s culinary arts program and student-run café, and our students have developed a new business that provides organic produce to community residents, who do not have any local access to fresh produce.

Retail Bike Shop
The Roll & Eat Bike Shop (“Roll & Eat”) is LLA’s newest student-run business. The Roll & Eat, which was entirely designed by our students, is a student-managed and operated retail bike shop that provides bike repairs, bike parts and merchandise, and also provides services to visitors, residents, and the various school populations of Treasure Island. The concept for the Roll & Eat grew out of the school’s bike shop curriculum, which was designed by our bike mechanic, math and English faculty. This curriculum reengages students in the learning process through the hands-on study of bicycle mechanics. LLA students designed the shop based on a survey of community residents and are excited to use their new skills to contribute to the Treasure Island community.

Youth Fire and Police Science Program
These two programs are designed to imprint in the students a sense of citizenship, civic pride, discipline, responsibility, self-esteem, confidence, self-respect, and an appreciation of the importance of community service. The San Francisco Fire Department’s Regional Training Center located on Treasure Island is utilized for site visits and demonstrations. Curriculum also utilizes the local full-use San Francisco Fire Station located on the island. Students also learn about various careers in law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and emergency response methods. Upon completion of the Youth Fire and Police Science Program, students have gained experience that will be helpful in applying to jobs in a variety of fields.

Building Trades
Students have an extensive and immediate opportunity to develop contractor skills through the design, renovation and repair of their school site, which includes the LLA garden and greenhouse, as well as off-site at the student-run bike shop and at the Crossroads Café.

Project-based construction

Art, Photography and Digital Imaging
A professional photographer teaches beginning and advanced Black and White Photography classes, and students learn the tools and techniques at LLA’s on-site darkroom. Students also do dance and plays in our performing arts theatre and create art projects.

Computer Literacy
Students have access to a state-of-the-art computer lab and high-speed internet access. Computer training includes word processing, web design and research, and PowerPoint presentation.

Majors - Fire Air Earth Water

All of Life Learning Academy’s courses and activities fall within one of the four environmental majors. The majors are focused around the elements, fire, air, earth, and water. Within each major is a set of vocational and academic activities that become a student’s area of focus.

Fire Major

For example, students who chose the water major spend a percentage of their time participating in lessons in which water is a central theme. They participate in swim class, study marine biology and oceanography, and examine the importance of water to California’s development. Students majoring in fire study the past, current, and future technological uses of fire. They learn fire science and apply it to their culinary training. In English class, students examine the mythological and symbolic uses of fire in world literature. Earth majors spend time working on landscape architecture projects, including the cultivation of the LLA’s urban mini-farm that produces much of the fresh vegetables used in LLA meals and is home to 10 chickens, one turtle and two wayward ducks. Students in the air major study astronomy in the LLA’s portable planetarium and have the opportunity to go on stargazing camping trips where, outside in the night sky, they observe the constellations they studied in the classroom using a high-powered telescope.

Go to www.lifelearningacademy.sf.org to obtain project-based curriculum examples from Life Learning Academy.

Water Major