Welcome back, families, to the 2021-2022 school year! We are simply thrilled to begin this new year with renewed energy and optimism. Our GASD staff have worked throughout the summer to enhance student learning experiences as we commit to the highest quality programs for our children. Our theme this year is “Moving Forward” in an effort to take care of our children and our community. We are moving forward with our focus on the 5 Core Competencies that define our portrait of a GA Graduate, as we do not want to assume that when children “do school well” that they will be competent graduates, rather, we want to purposely design learning experiences that guarantee opportunities for students to grow in competence. We are committed to attending to the needs of every child: academically, emotionally, and physically.
It is by design that upon graduation, our students will have had guaranteed opportunities to develop competencies that will prepare them to navigate their own course successfully. We want our students to be marketable in the workforce and continuing education paths that are available to them.
We recognize five pathways that students may take beyond graduation:
All five pathways can lead to success. GASD will support students in finding the pathway that best serves their passions and matches their skillsets. By engaging students at the earliest ages, we believe that explicit attention to our GASD Core Competencies will provide opportunities for students to grow in their understanding of self and take ownership for their personal growth and development. These monthly opportunities permit choice and time to investigate topics that matter to them. Our students will grow in their confidence while learning how they find their own voice to communicate their thoughts and ideas in different ways and for different purposes.
We will align every effort to develop graduates that can think critically, exercise social responsibility, articulate their thoughts and ideas with confidence and clarity. We want our graduates to understand and acquire information from various reliable sources, maintain financial stability, attend to their emotional and physical health, and recognize the importance of academic knowledge and skills for continuous learning!
Families may choose to engage in these experiences as a family or expect full independence from their child. Every child in GASD will be aligned to an instructor that will support their learning journey each month. At the primary and elementary levels, that instructor will be the child’s classroom teacher as they create a special relationship with each student. Our middle school students (grades 6-8) will be supported by their homeroom teacher. Our high school years are the final experiences that become even more personalized for students. Therefore, every high school student will be assigned to a Pathways group which is smaller than the typical class size. Their specific instructor will stay with them for all four years as a guide to support the investigation of the various pathways and a personal resource that students can rely on outside the academic classes. Students will have flexibility in time to complete the project, or may use the designated Competency Immersion Days to complete the task. Instructors will be available virtually, on that day for personalized support.
We want students to:
- Immerse themselves in areas that pique their interest
- Dig deeper into themselves as learners
- Take risks in their creativity and attempts at innovation
- Apply their learning to new situations
- Actively engage in their own educational experience
- Bumps along the way
- Areas that will need adjustment
- Improvements over time
Students will NOT be graded on the Competency Immersion Day projects and tasks. We want to focus on the process and experience. We want to nurture risk taking, creativity, problem-solving, and independence.
Students will be marked in attendance for the Competency Immersion Day for completion of the project!
BUT….We believe that the efforts to bridge traditional learning with competency-based efforts are worthy of the challenges we may face. We will:
- Connect our K-12 experience for children by threading the years together through our competency development
- Provide authentic opportunities to apply learning that is meaningful and creates lasting impressions.
- Empower independence and confidence in children
We want students to experiment with their growing knowledge and skills. Projects will be open-ended, allowing for freedom and creativity.
However, scaffolds will be provided to support students as we know that while creativity comes easily for some children, others will need time to discover their strengths and nurture their curiosity!
Please do not be too quick to dismiss these opportunities! Childhood passes all too quickly and we want to immerse our children in experiences that will engage them as active participants in their development! Students will be supported, and all materials will be available at the start of each month on our website, beginning September 1st, and through your child’s instructor.
Students will collect artifacts throughout the year that demonstrate their growth and spend time reflecting on their learning during the month of April to produce a culminating exhibition of competency development for families and friends to celebrate in May. Healthy development and increasing confidence results when students spend time reflecting on their personal growth, recognize that effort produces results, and is worthy of celebration!
For each experience, the submission of an artifact (product, picture, self-reflection, etc. as defined in the task) equates to a full day of attendance for the competency immersion day. Students should submit their artifact or evidence through Seesaw for primary, and Schoology for grades 3-12 as directed by the instructor.