From staff to students to families, each member of the school community enjoys the benefits of our collaborative, inclusive culture.
The Academies' staff will work together in a cooperative spirit to share best practices, share research and ideas, evaluate student performance data, and communicate honestly to problem-solve and continually improve our school. Staff development time will place a priority on collaboration to consciously shape a cohesive and specific school culture, to share the creativity and strengths of the staff members schoolwide, and to support our staff’s weak areas so they can be improved. We recognize that the innovative model we are creating will require significant staff training and collaboration. Thus, teachers will be provided with regular opportunities to collaborate. The Academies CMO is committed to providing the support necessary for the school’s success for the sake of student achievement and staff satisfaction.
Anchored in the supportive and respectful environment established through parent partnering, and staff collaboration, students are also expected to cooperate. We recognize that cooperation is essential not only to the school culture we aim to develop and the larger moral message we want students to learn at our school (of the value of all individual contributions and the synergy of working together), but also that cooperative interaction is a powerful learning tool.
Student collaboration in the classroom is an important part of preparing today's students for the demands of college and careers in the 21st century. The development of high-level thinking skills is the foundation of future success for our 21st century learners and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The collaborative experience provides students with more than simply a novel way to learn academic content; it provides opportunities for students to develop critical thinking, social, organizational, and communication skills. Working collaboratively allows students to grapple with more complex problems in greater depth than they could while working alone, and provides the opportunity for learners to achieve deeper understanding through the processes of discussion and reflection. Students share and learn from diverse perspectives and begin to challenge their own assumptions. Doors open to immense learning possibilities as students acquire the ability to examine a topic from multiple perspectives.
While developing life-skills and delving deep into complex topics, students are also having fun and discovering the joy and the reward of learning. Cooperative learning experiences designed by our teachers inspire excitement for learning, academic enthusiasm, and this is the key to continued success. The Academies CMO understands that nurturing a love of learning and inspiring student curiosity is the key to developing momentum for student progress and growth. Within our constructivist, and largely cooperative, school culture of academic excellence, students are not only held to high standards, but are also taught with methods that cause them to become more curious about the content they are studying. We place a premium on providing ample cooperative learning opportunities for students.
As our mission statement indicates, families and staff support the education of our students together. We believe parent partnering will be a key component of our school’s success. Enlisting parents as our partners ensures that the unique information and insight that parents/guardians have about their children can be shared with the educators who work with them to strengthen the connection between home and school. Our school staff will solicit information from parents to know what families see as their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and to know if there are ways we can better serve each student. We want to hear about the ways in which a family might need support services or other aid. Reciprocally, our staff wants to share what we know with parents for the benefit of the student. The Academies' educators will regularly communicate with parents and guardians to pass on praise, celebrate achievement, recognize personal triumphs, point out resources, and ask for parent support when students struggle. The expertise and observations of the educator are communicated with the families of our students to help improve the child’s school experience and increase learning opportunities.
In addition, our staff wants the help of families to support our schools as they work to increase student responsibility and impart the value of a quality education, by providing consistent reinforcement of the academic and social lessons students are acquiring. Through Parent Partnering, there is a running dialogue of open, honest communication and this makes The Academies a community where everyone is known, where no student is allowed to “slip through the cracks.”
We suggest that each family contribute 30 hours of time to the school community each school year. Parents will voluntarily report their contribution of volunteer hours on an annual Parent Satisfaction Survey at the end of each academic year; no other tracking or monitoring is required. We have asked for this contribution to reinforce the partnership between the parties, while at the same time respecting the very real limitations that may be present in the myriad households we will be serving. All communication from the school to families makes clear that this participation suggestion is an invitation, not a requirement, so that no segment of our diverse community shall be excluded from accessing our school by virtue of participation requirements. While our schools welcome enthusiastic and committed parents on our campus at all times, our suggestion of parent volunteer/ participation time does not preclude the student’s right to attend our school and is not a conditional term for any child’s enrollment. The Parent Partnering Opportunities page is updated annually and included in enrollment packets to enable parents/guardians to see the myriad ways their contribution can be achieved.
The Honor Code
In the spirit of collaborative community, our school community is united in commitment to the SVA Honor Code. Students sign an Honor Code upon enrollment and receive an annual lesson via our “Everyday Explorer” lesson series about its meaning at the start of each school year. The Honor Code is ubiquitous in the SVA experience, reinforced continually: