Tagged “Democratic Education”

Family Atmosphere Fosters Sense of Belonging

Imagine Schools South Lake, Clermont, Fla.

Despite being one of the largest of the more than 70 Imagine Schools campuses, Imagine South Lake feels like a "family" school. Each day, students are greeted by the principal (who knows everyone by name), other administrators, teachers, parents, and student safety patrols. Teacher turnover is minimal, and the re-enrollment rate is above 95 percent. When speaking of her schoolmates and teachers, fourth grader India says, "They are my family." Named a 2011 National School of Character by whole child partner the Character Education Partnership, Imagine South Lake's staff students, and parents live the core values. Staff members incorporate character within the classroom in ways that best meet the needs of their students and reflect the school's mission statement. Middle school language-arts teacher Joyce Crawford notes that "being here at Imagine means you have a voice;" all classrooms have meetings where students' "voice and choice" is heard and appreciated. Teachers care about the students academically, socially, and emotionally. Fourth grader Eliya states that the teachers "don’t want us to fail. They teach us how to learn from our mistakes."

Learning by Doing, Part of a Challenging Curriculum

Quest Early College High School, Humble, Tex.

A personalized and nurturing learning experience for all students is the foundational goal at Quest Early College High School—winner of the 2011 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award—in Humble, Tex.

Through community partnerships and collaborations, students learn by doing by taking part in service learning, internships, and social actions that allow them to understand the relevance of what they learn. Students to take ownership of their own learning by designing their own physical fitness goals and activities, beginning college coursework that can earn them up to 60 college credits while in high school, and designing their own senior capstone research projects that reflect a social issue that has personal meaning.

Connecting Students to Their Community and Beyond

Northport High School, Northport, N.Y.

Students at Northport High School in Northport, N.Y., are intent on making a difference in the world. A large part of the school's culture centers on a strong sense of civic engagement that lends to students being connected and involved in the school's academic and social life; serving local community needs; and participating in advocacy, global awareness, and social-development projects.

With a challenging and diverse curriculum that infuses civic education and student empowerment, Northport students have opportunities to demonstrate leadership skills that connect what they learn in class to the world around them.

At Northport, young people have many opportunities to be active leaders for social justice in the community. Students for 60,000 is a student organization that provides humanitarian assistance to those in need. Projects have included feeding and clothing the poor or homeless locally and internationally and teaching English to recent immigrants in their town.

Also members of A Mid-winter Night's Dream, another student club, have testified before Congress on issues related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. These students have been able to conduct research alongside scientists and have raised over $1.5 million in seven years to support patients with ALS and further research.

Underserved Students Realize Dreams of College

Bronx Preparatory Charter School, Bronx, N.Y.

Bronx Preparatory Charter School in New York prepares underserved middle and high school students for higher education, civic involvement, and lifelong success by holding high expectations and providing a caring, structured environment.

The school's 700 students in grades 5–12 spend 50 percent more time in school than their peers in traditional public schools, and school heavily emphasizes math and literacy. Middle school students attend up to two hours each in math and English daily and are introduced to high school-level content in 8th grade. During the 11th and 12th grades, students can take college-level courses.

College is integrated into every aspect at Bronx Prep, with rooms named after colleges and universities and teachers constantly referring to students' future higher education. Consistent science, social studies, physical education, and artistic block scheduling provide a well-rounded education. Middle and high school students spend one hour a day, four days a week participating in classes such as piano, violin, dance, and drama. One hundred percent of the school's first three high school graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges.

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