How does the schedule work?
Students attend classes two days a week, similar to university model classes. Class days are intensive, hands-on, and depend on students who have prepared for class on their days away from school.
The work you do at home is essential to your success, and while classes only meet two days a week, you should expect to put in an additional 14+ hours of focused work time at home. Assignments ask students to do substantial reading and thinking, and many students have a learning curve as they adjust to this new way of working and managing their time. You may need to experiment with different ways of scheduling and managing your time — we’re here to help you with lots of hands-on support and tools.
Optionally, students can attend extracurricular sessions on Fridays, which include everything from movie days and book club to study skills workshops and test prep sessions to credit-bearing courses and intensive seminars on special topics.
What will I learn?
The Academy follows a fairly classical liberal arts curriculum with a heavy emphasis on critical thinking, reading, and writing. The High School follows a four-year history cycle (Ancient History, World History, U.S. History, and Asian History) which focuses closely on a few specific topics. A typical schedule includes: Critical Thinking and Debate, Humanities (which includes literature, philosophy, theoretical science, and history in an integrated study), Latin, Spanish, and Mathematics. Optional Friday Enrichment options include short-term classes on topics such as World Religions, Social Activism, Feminism, and Creative Writing as well as study skills workshops, test preparation, and more.
Humanities classes at the Academy are based around great books, and students will be reading classics of literature, philosophy, and history. As you’d expect, this is challenging, meaningful work, and students will be stretching their thinking in new ways. We think it’s okay for work to be hard because the learning payoff for hard work is so great, and we’re looking for students who feel the same way.
How do contracts work?
Students at the Academy create their own map for high school education. With guidance and support from your faculty mentor, you’ll develop academic goals each year. We believe that education is all about learning what you need to learn to go where you want to go, and self-directing your annual academic plan allows you to take ownership of your education in a way that checking off required boxes could never do. Working with your mentor, you’ll develop a plan to demonstrate measurable growth toward your goals over the course of the year as you build a fundamental set of skills and knowledge. You may have academic goals (“I want to get all As,” “I want to improve my math SAT score,” I want to become a better writer”) as well as personal goals (“I want to get more sleep on the nights before class,” “I want to stop procrastinating and manage my time better,” “I want to complete my art portfolio to submit for a scholarship competition”), and your goals may be related to work at the Academy or elsewhere—your mentor will work with you to figure out how a volunteer project, NaNoWriMo effort, or cosplay design might fit onto your transcript. Because this kind of education is, by its nature, individualized, students in the same class may have vastly different goals and assignments.
The contract lays out a student’s goals for the coming year, but monthly meetings with mentors help students work steadily toward those goals and adjust them as needed. Mentors provide support, suggestions, and accountability for students’ contract goals. At the end of the term, mentors and students together evaluate how successful a student has been at accomplishing his or her goals.
What about grades?
Classes at the Academy are designed to be rigorous academic courses that require substantial time and focus to master. An A at the Academy is not just a random letter grade—it's a confirmation that you've done increasingly challenging work over the semester, come prepared to class with reading and homework assignments done, actively participated in class discussions and projects, and done exemplary work on major papers and projects.
We give students a clear, specific academic rubric to refer to and regular academic feedback. Students receive letter grades and calculated GPAs on their official transcripts.
How do you handle college and career counseling?
We believe high school is a wonderful time to explore different possibilities! In addition to helping you plan your academic experience at the Academy, your faculty mentor will help point you toward apprenticeships, internships, programs, and other opportunities that mesh with your educational goals and interests. If you’re interested in college, we’ll help you navigate the process, from preparing for standardized tests to writing application essays and everything in between. College is just one post-high school option, though, so your mentor can also help you plan a meaningful gap year, prepare to start a business, or enter the workforce. Ideally, each student will graduate the Academy with some hands-on experience in your field of interest and a professional resume, as well as an academic transcript.
What about social activities and extracurriculars?
Most of our current extracurricular and social activities—including drama club, prom, yearbook, movie days, etc.—came about through student initiative, so if you have a great idea for an activity, we'll be all in to help you make it a reality. Students also have built in social time every day, including a lunch break that's set up so that you can bond with your fellow students outside the classroom.