On July 27th, Academy High hosted Curriculum Night for its incoming and prospective students and their families. The evening provided an opportunity for faculty to present an overview of their curriculum, their instruction style, and how they planned to assess students. Although there are universalities of curriculum content, Academy High has tremendous flexibility in how to deliver this content in an innovative manner that is engaging for its members. Here are a few highlights from the evening:
In addition to traditional instruction, the math program, taught by Founding Head of School, Dr. Darren Pascavage, will foster innovative instruction through its partnership with Mathmatica. This will also allow Academy High to retire the conventional use of graphing calculators in secondary math, for Mathematica’s collegiate-caliber computational programing. This will allow for an increase in engaging applications of the core material taught as students learn material consistent with rigorous preparation for standardized tests. Statewide math contests will also be a part of the curriculum.
In its first year, Studio Arts instructor, Nathan Westerman, will guide student exploration through the mediums of light, sound, and motion, inspired by the likes of James Turrell, Janet Cardiff, and Theo Jansen, respectively. Based on a class he taught at the University of Illinois, Westerman will guide his students’ exploration through these contemporary mediums. Students will wrap their year by competing in a regional Rube Goldberg competition.
Literature and Writing
Literature and Writing Faculty member Amanda Heinsman plans to have students read a variety of contemporary, classic, visual novels, and poetry. Units will be focused on themes of the human experience. Class times will be inventive, combining discussions of larger themes, student-led seminars, Socratic questioning, meta-composition, reading conferences, debate, and written responses. Ms. Heinsman’s objective of the writing portion of her class is for her students to see themselves as writers. Units will focus on genres of writing and will have structured papers, self-directed writing, college prep essays, and interdisciplinary papers for each genre. Students will create a digital portfolio of work, with instruction time focused on mini-lessons and application. Goal setting, conferencing, feedback, self-evaluation, and reflection will be key elements of both courses. Both subjects will also rely on standards set by the National Council for Teachers of English and Common Core.
Did you know that everyone feels pressure while performing? What steps can one take to overcome angst to enjoy their performance experience? Performing Arts faculty member Amy Chesser looks forward to exploring these topic and more. She plans to jump into a “creative sandbox” to explore Improv, Shakespearean works, and dog training (yes, dog training!) as means of performing. She will work with students to exceed their perceived capabilities through performing arts.
When surveying parents at Curriculum Night, Social Studies faculty member Annie Morrisette confirmed that many adults wish they had had a better appreciation of their history class in high school. To spark curiosity and engagement in Academy High students, Ms. Morrisette will base the freshman Social Studies course, Introduction to World History and Geography, on the comprehensive curriculum developed at UCLA called World History for Us All. This curriculum divides world history into nine “Big Eras”, providing “panorama, landscape, and close up” exploration of topics. Through lecture, readings, discussion, activities, group projects, videos, and field trips, students will develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be human as they explore patterns, take on perspectives, and reflect upon the experience of diverse peoples over time.
Mandarin instructor, Eileen Chen, is very excited about the first year of classes at Academy High! Ms. Chen insists that learning a foreign language is fun and easy. She plans to start with the basics, by learning dates, objects, etc. As student vocabulary continues to build, students will also enjoy cultural events, projects, cooking, and game days! Ms. Chen’s curriculum adheres to ACTFL standards, and proves that learning at Academy High can be top notch AND fun. As part of the class, students will be encouraged to take annual Language Proficiency Tests to gauge their progress.
Academy High is a proud member of the Hybrid Learning Consortium, a globalized learning community consisting of 37 Independent Schools. Through its membership, Academy High provide best practices of diverse, in depth learning opportunities and continued achievement of rigor and excellence. HLC courses create opportunities for students to develop solutions to problems facing our local and global communities through course offerings wider than a single institution can support. In its first year, Dr. Pascavage has chosen Globalization, led by Christopher Mullis of The Barstow School in Kansas City, Missouri.
Science and Spanish curriculums will be presented at the August 10 Program Night, which will be held at 7:00 pm at Academy High. Module overviews will also be presented for App Development, Music Recording and Production, and Survey of Non-Western Music. We hope to see you then!