Law and Social Justice Theme
The School will incorporate a law and social justice theme into all aspects of its curriculum, as well as after-school clubs and activities. Students will learn about the relationship between law and social justice and will have the opportunity to gain hands on experiences through social justice community service projects and law office internships. The theme will promote skills such as literacy, writing, oral communication, and critical thinking and will introduce students to skills in trial advocacy, appellate advocacy, and debate. All students will complete a four-year curriculum in law and social justice that will introduce students to the concept of social justice, the relationship between law and social justice movements, and the role students can play using law as a positive force for social change. The four-year sequence will include courses in civics and civic institutions, the history of law and social justice movements in the United States, and constitutional law. Beginning in tenth grade, students will have the option to take law-related electives in sociology, political science, and government and politics. Additionally, under the direction of a social studies teacher, students will complete a social justice community service project in eleventh grade and a law office internship in twelfth grade. The theme will offer students a different way of looking at the core curriculum, introduce them to big-picture concepts, and empower and inspire them to create positive social changes in society.
The School will offer a high-quality, comprehensive high school curriculum designed to help children reach their full potential. The curriculum will be aligned to the New York State Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards. All students will take four years of ELA, math, social studies, and science. After completing one mandatory year of Spanish, students may choose to continue with Spanish or take law-related courses. All students will also be required to take a four-year course sequence in law and social justice, complete a social justice community project, and a law office internship. The regular school day will begin at 8:00 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. Each subject area will meet four times a week for a total of 240 minutes, exceeding New York State requirements by 50 minutes per subject each week. There will be a mandatory extended school day from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. three days a week which will provide an additional 108 hours of supplemental instruction throughout the academic year. In freshman and sophomore years, students will take a second ELA course called ELA Fundamentals. This class will focus on academic literacy skills and will support the development of foundational skills with emphasis on written and oral communication, grammar, language structure, and academic vocabulary. During junior year, all students will participate in an SAT preparation course and in senior year, students will complete a college readiness course. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to take AP courses and courses for credit at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Student will participate in advisory meetings Monday through Thursday for 40 minutes each day. These small group sessions will be led by faculty members, counselors, and support staff. Each adult will be responsible for creating and ensuring a supportive environment in which students can develop. The curriculum will address the whole student and will include academic, social, emotional, and career development. Students will learn how to transition to and succeed in high school, how to be part of a community and build positive relationships, and how to prepare for both college and a career. An integral element of the advisory program is the Individual Learning Plan ("ILP"), which will be used throughout the academic year and will be completed by all students at the School. Each student will be able to take ownership of his or her own success by working with his or her advisor and grade level counselor to identify goals and monitor progress. ILP goals will be aligned to the advisory curriculum, allowing students to develop short and long term goals for academic success, relationship development, and college and career preparedness. The process of creating ILPs can have a positive impact on self-regulation and self-awareness, key factors in academic achievement. Advisors and counselors will help students develop these abilities so that they are able to self-identify strengths and areas in need of improvement.
Looping is an educational practice in which a single class of students remains with a teacher for two or more years or grade levels. The teacher is “promoted” along with the class of students to the next grade level. The School will implement the practice of looping from ninth to tenth grade. This practice will help develop a stable and consistent learning environment and establish links between concept and skills development. The practice of looping is beneficial for students as well as teachers. For students, the benefits include reduced apprehension, increased continuity, and more in-depth relationships with the teacher and peers. For teachers, the benefits include the ability to become more familiar with students and obtain a greater understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses. The long-term relationships established through looping have been shown to support student learning and have a positive impact on students’ sense of belonging, especially for those with IEPs, English language learners, and those at-risk of failure. Looping has been identified as a practice that can help establish a supportive community among parents, teachers, and students, leading to shared expectations for achievement and student success.
Thematic Units of Study
Teachers will employ the principals of Understanding by Design to develop thematic units of study. This design framework will facilitate an integrated curriculum whereby social studies and ELA teachers design thematic units that will help students see the connections among ideas, ensure the development of college-level skills, and provide students with opportunities to examine issues related to law and social justice. This approach will require students to examine various perspectives while exploring the social and historical contexts of an issue or problem.
Special Education Services
In accordance with all federal laws and regulations, the School will provide students with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Students with disabilities will have access to and will participate in the general education curriculum. The School will encourage students to participate fully in both curricular and extracurricular activities while providing them with ample supports. The School will provide at least one Integrated Co-Teaching (“ICT”) class section per subject, per grade. Additionally, Special Education Teacher Support Services (“SETSS”) will be offered to provide supplemental instruction and assistance. Students will be placed in ICT classrooms according to their needs, and will be able to receive SETSS directly and indirectly in the classroom or in a small group setting. Special education services at the School will be flexible so that students with disabilities have access to a wide range of services and the School is able to provide a high-quality education to students with a broad range of disabilities. Services, supports, and learning will be precisely tailored to each student’s unique needs.
Services for English Language Learners
The School will comply with all applicable laws and regulations to ensure that language barriers do not preclude a student from equal participation in instructional programs or extracurricular activities. All students who score below “proficient” on the Language Assessment Battery-Revised will be identified as English language learners and will be eligible for services. English language proficiency will be assessed annually and students will continue to receive services until they are able to achieve a score of proficient on the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test. English language supports will be integrated into the classroom and content area teachers will use Sheltered Instruction methods and practices to adapt the delivery of lessons to accommodate students with varied levels of English language proficiency. Strategies will include the use of clear and direct instructions, targeting vocabulary development, using visuals and demonstrations, and integrating listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills into each lesson. If needed, the English as a Second Language (“ESL”) teacher will provide push-in services for students. Additionally, students that require more extensive support will be able to receive small group ESL instruction.
Summer Bridge Programs
All rising ninth and tenth grade students will participate in a mandatory summer bridge program. The program will introduce students to the School's culture, environment, and expectations and will focus on skill building in order to prepare students for the rigorous upcoming school year. Instruction and activities will support academic, social, and emotional development and will assist students in their transition to high school, in developing positive peer and adult relationships, and in building interest in college and career pathways. Based on initial assessment data, teachers will focus supplemental instruction to provide remediation or enrichment according to student need. Programming will focus on enhancing academic skills such as literacy, critical thinking and analysis, mathematical competency, and effective oral and written communication. Furthermore, each student, with the assistance of teachers and guidance counselors, will begin to develop his or her Individual Learning Plan. Through an exploration of law and social justice issues, students will develop vital research and writing skills and engage in debate, role play, and moot court activities. Students will participate in field trips to the College of Mount Saint Vincent and New York Law School to gain early exposure to college life and careers in law and to begin to foster a "college going" culture. Additionally, rising twelfth grade students will attend a college preparatory bridge program on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The program will offer a college readiness curriculum as well as career and college planning.
Urban Residence Program
In conjunction with the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the School will provide students with additional support and supervision in the classroom through the College's Urban Residence Program (the "Program"). The School will hire, as teaching assistants ("TA"), graduate students enrolled in the Program to provide additional guidance and aid in the classroom. Under the direction of the classroom teacher, the TAs will help facilitate classroom activities, provide one-on-one support, assist in providing differentiated instruction, and aid in the implementation of students' Individual Learning Plans. The TAs will also assist the School's teachers and staff during the extended day program by providing such things as tutoring, test preparation, homework assistance, advanced coursework or enrichment projects, and academic support to English language learners, students with disabilities, and students at-risk of academic failure. The addition of TAs will enhance the School's ability to provide its students with an excellent education that includes highly individualized supports.