The model schools that tested the comprehensive integrated program have demonstrated success in many ways. Here are just a few.
Customized education for every child - Emaginos considers every child as special and at risk – some at greater risk than others. We deliver a customized education to each child based upon a continuous improvement model. Our students master the academic content and high performance skills without teaching to the test.
Rossier Ranking - In 2013, the Rossier School of Education at USC ranked the model elementary school third best charter school in the state of California (out of over 1,000 charter schools).
Bullying and Visually Challenged – A young girl who is visually challenged was being bullied at the traditional public school she attended. Her response was to become a bully back – reacting to aggression with aggression. It had changed her from a sweet child to a bully – much to her parents’ dismay. She transferred to the model school where her classmates responded to her challenges with loving support. She returned to the sweet child she had been and is thriving academically and socially.
Gifted Fifth Grader – Mom was concerned with her choices at the traditional school for her gifted fifth-grade daughter. The school department had already advanced her one grade and was willing to skip her ahead another grade. At that point, her fifth-grade daughter would have been with a group of seventh-grade teenage girls whose normal romantic interests in boys were of concern to the mom. The girl was transferred to the model school where she was socially with her age-group peers while receiving a customized education that challenged her academically.
Keys to the building – During a visit focus group, the president-emeritus of the American Federation of Teachers, Ed McElroy, asked a group of teachers what was different about working at the model school. One of the teachers pulled out a key ring and said that in his old traditional school, if he wanted to make copies of worksheets or get into a room other than his own, he had to fill out a form or ask a custodian to open the door for him. He held up a key on his ring and said that in the model school he can go anywhere he needs to go and get whatever he needs to do his job.
Control of the Curriculum – During a focus group of teachers, the visitor asked how working at the model school was different from their previous experience. A History teacher spoke up to say that the textbook in his old school spent very little time on the Holocaust. He felt that there are many valuable lessons to be learned so he spends a few days on the topic. At this point, the Science teacher spoke up to say that she coordinates her lessons to cover genetics and eugenics at the same time. Then the Language Arts teacher said that she has her students read literature on the topic like the Diary of Anne Frank, Exodus, The Wall, or Mila 18 during this period. The teachers are empowered. They own the curriculum and can adapt it as they see fit to provide the students the best possible learning experience.
School Culture – Even though the school is relatively small (about 100 students per grade K – 12, for a total of about 1,200 students), it is still a big group to get close to. To make the groups smaller and more supportive, the high school is divided into houses – think of Harry Potter and the houses at Hogwarts. Each house is composed of students from grades 9 – 12. The students and teacher/advisors stay together all four years of high school. There are competitions and behaviors that earn or lose points for the houses. The houses create a sense of belonging for all of the students.
The high school students are typical hormonally driven teenagers who will occasionally feel compelled to behave badly. Because of the school culture, other students who observe a situation with the potential to get out of hand give one of the teachers a warning and the teacher will intervene before the situation boils over. There is no resentment because the teacher provides a way for the situation to be resolved with anyone losing ‘face’ or being punished.
The model schools are located in a very diverse community, with a broad range of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. The students became concerned that the diversity was resulting in some avoidable issues and approached the teachers. They felt badly when they inadvertently said or did something that hurt another student’s feelings or made them feel uncomfortable. Working together, the teachers and students created a mini-course called manners that provides cross-cultural awareness, tolerance, and understanding.
As a result of these deliberate cultural efforts, visitors are struck by the sense of community that is evident when they visit the campus.
Academic Results – “Learning how to learn stuff is as important as the stuff you learn!” The research shows that 80% of what you will need to know ten years after graduation is information that did not exist while you were in school. If you are not prepared to learn on your own, you are not prepared to succeed. Emaginos focuses on teaching how to learn, not memorizing content that is only a part of what you will need to know. Model school students do very well on high-stakes tests without ever focusing on preparing to take the tests.
School Calendar – The model schools have a longer school day and academic year. This extra time pays off in many ways.