The model schools that designed and implemented the comprehensive, integrated program upon which the Emaginos platform is built have demonstrated success in many ways. Here are just a few.
Customized Education for Every Child - Emaginos considers every child to be 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 academic content and high-performance skills without teaching to the test.
Rossier Ranking - In 2013, the Rossier School of Education at USC ranked the elementary school as the third-best charter school in the state of California (out of over 1,000 charter schools).
Bullied 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 herself – 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 – A mother was concerned about the limited choices available at the traditional school her gifted fifth-grade daughter attended. The school had already advanced her child one grade level 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 site 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, a visitor from the Council on Competitiveness in Washington, DC who was looking for programs that successfully integrated STEAM into their curriculum, asked how working at the model school was different from their previous experience. A history teacher spoke up and said the textbook in his old school focused very little on the Holocaust. He felt there are many valuable lessons to be learned from that event in history, so he has chosen to spend multiple days on the topic. At that point, a science teacher spoke up to say that she coordinates her lessons to cover genetics and eugenics at the same time. Then a language arts teacher said she has her students read literature on the topic of the Holocaust, such as "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Exodus," "The Wall," or "Mila 18" during the time period in which the other teachers are covering the Holocaust. The teachers are empowered. They own the curriculum and can adapt it as they see fit to provide students with the best possible learning experience.
School Culture – Even though the model 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 give focused attention 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 teachers/advisors stay together during 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 the students.
The high school students are typical teenagers who will occasionally feel compelled to behave badly. Because of the school culture, other students who observe a situation that has the potential to get out of hand will alert one of the teachers, 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 without 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. Students became concerned that the diversity was resulting in some avoidable issues and approached the teachers about it. Students 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, culturally integrative efforts, visitors to the school have been 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!” Research shows that 80% of what you will need to know 10 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 students will need to know. Students at the model school do very well on high-stakes tests without ever focusing on preparing to take the tests.
School Calendar – The Emaginos model schools have a longer school day and academic year. This extra time pays off in many ways.