Rainshadow Community Charter High School offers an instructional program based on concepts developed by the school’s founders, Dr. Stephen Tchudi and Dr. Stephen Lafer, both members of the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno. Utilizing their extensive backgrounds in education and English, Tchudi and Lafer co-authored, The Interdisciplinary Teachers Handbook, published in 1996, as well as several articles published over the years in various academic journals. Tchudi and Lafer also collaborated in developing and teaching of several university courses for teachers to acquaint themselves with the powerful instructional methodologies that would later become the central element to the Rainshadow curriculum.
In 2001, Tchudi, Lafer, and Steve Adkison began to discuss the possibility of creating a school based on the interdisciplinary principles advocated in their writings and courses. After two years of negotiations with the Washoe County School District, the district and state officials gave permission to open the school. The school that had been once deemed “Too innovative and too risky” would open its doors in the fall of 2003, at 434 Washington Street in downtown Reno.
Over the past ten years the school has made leaps and bounds in establishing itself in the community as a diverse and accepting educational opportunity. The student population has risen to over 130, and now accepts students from a waiting list. Culinary, theater, farming, and art programs have been implemented. Students have the opportunity to participate in recreational sports, such as basketball. And students are highly involved in local organizations, including: the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity, the Great Basin Institute and the Washoe County Library.