Early last year, a group of passionate parents and teachers gathered with one vision - to open a community school in downtown San Diego. That dream became reality in a few short months when Urban Discovery Academy opened its doors last fall in the heart of Balboa Park.

"Vibrant learning" is how educators at Urban Discovery Academy describe their project-based curriculum.

"I have to be full of energy in order to entertain 20 kids and they are just, they are a great bunch and they love to learn," teacher Alma Romero said.

In Ms. Romero's class, kindergarteners are getting a heads-up on the learning curve.

"My school is really great because we learn lots of 5th grade and 6th grade world problems," student Anouk said.

"We do writers workshop at least three times a week. They're writing so well. Remind you, they're in kindergarten," Romero said.

As a charter school, Urban Discovery Academy has more autonomy than a traditional school, but still adheres to state education codes.

"All of our teachers have to be credentialed and all of our curriculum has to be approved by the State of California," principal Cindy Moser said.

Longer school days and a broad curriculum that includes the arts are fundamental. In the art room students study different artists and their techniques.

"We're working on Kandinsky. He's an artist, he made a lot of shapes," an art student said.

"That was the goal, to have all of the enrichment to educate the whole child but to also keep a rigorous academic program, and we do a good job in balancing both instead of doing one or the other," Moser said.

An added feature to this downtown campus: P.E. class is held across the street in the heart of Balboa Park.

"We get to have P.E. every day now," one student said.

Educators strive for a nurturing environment, and a task well done is always rewarded.

"I want them to love learning, and when they're done here and continue to want to go to school forever," Moser said.