To re-engage over-age and under-credited youth through a transformational educational experience that provides each student with the academic, vocational and personal skills necessary to succeed.
Leadership Academy serves young people who have not flourished in traditional school settings including those who have been academically under-served or skilled, expelled, incarcerated, and/or have self-selected out of the system. The Academy model is grounded in youth development theory providing a comprehensive, yet customized approach to learning and growth. Using a case management approach, every Academy student is assessed to identify his/her interests, knowledge, strengths and challenges. While the Academy serves young people in grades 9-12, students are assigned to a learning cohort based on their assessments.
The Leadership Academy culture and program design is based on three core principles which guide all work with young people. These principles include:
- Rigor: to offer a rigorous academic program that prepares young people for a myriad of post-secondary educational and career opportunities;
- Relevance: to equip young people with a marketable set of skills thereby ensuring their readiness to pursue meaningful employment in our 21st century, highly-skilled economy; and
- Relationships: to create a set of strong relationships, both public and private, that provides students with meaningful opportunities to develop their capacity to lead, rebuild their communities, assume personal responsibility, and fulfill their potential to contribute to the well-being of others.
Key Program Elements
Leadership Academy education model is comprised of four key program elements:
- Curriculum:rigorous, standards-aligned, and college-preparatory content that is relevant, age-appropriate, and supportive of students’ learning needs. Accordingly, Leadership Academy curriculum contains commercial texts and resources, school-developed materials, software, and games.
- Instruction:a toolbox of pedagogical approaches is used to engage and facilitate learning. These include direct instruction, learning centers/stations, Socratic seminars, blended learning and co-teaching models.
- Student assessment: a multi-tiered assessment system is employed including a norm- and criterion-referenced standardized assessment used to benchmark growth, and compared Academy students’ performance with their peers. The Academy’s assessment system also includes other formal assessments including the state-mandated HSPA, informal assessments including checks for understanding and conferencing, performance-based assessments including projects and other demonstrations, and portfolio-based evaluations measuring a body of student work.
- Professional Learning Community:job-embedded professional development is built into daily and weekly schedules. Instructors and student services personnel plan curriculum, instruction, assessments, youth development, and support via daily grade level or subject area meetings. Each staff person received coaching in daily practice, and together staff research and attempt new approaches to instruction and student services.
- Vocational Training: supervised hands-on construction training and apprenticeship employment resulting in the development of quality affordable housing, green-building, and credentialing using National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) curricula, and the Home Builders Institute’s Pre-Apprentice Certification Training (PACT).
The Academy employs a unique student services model. Instead of a wrap-around approach, student support is embedded in daily instruction, activities, and daily schedules involving:
- Leadership Development:students are afforded numerous opportunities to assume decision making roles including roles related to the Academy’s policy council, public speaking, group facilitation, on- and off-campus negotiation, civic engagement, community service, restorative justice projects, advocacy, and job readiness.
- Counseling: including case management, individual and group counseling, and referrals to outside agencies for psycho-social services, anger management and behavioral modification if needed.
- Graduate Services:including post-employment training, career counseling, job search techniques, college counseling, job development, job placement, follow-up counseling, provision of needed resources (i.e. emergency housing assistance, tuition assistance, funds for college books, etc.).
Projected Growth and Performance
Leadership Academy is a small school and classroom model.
Class sizes for core academic subjects do not exceed 20, and school enrollment does not exceed 300. The Academy schools open with 100 young people, strategically adding students each year until enrollment goals are met in Year 4. Using previous success with the program model as a guide, Leadership Academy expects its inaugural cohort of students to achieve 65 percent proficiency on the HSPA, and graduate a similar percentage of young people. It is anticipated that each cohort following will increase by five percent their high school proficiency tests and graduation rates – until at least 80 percent of students reach this goal.