Students in traditional middle schools often struggle to learn essential ideas and skills. Our curriculum is designed to challenge, engage, and inspire students – every day. Research demonstrates that active, engaged learning dramatically improves student achievement. When students match their personal interests to school work, they show increased attention, commitment, and achievement.
Our curriculum and instruction helps students master core academic skills … and much, much more. We root learning in hands-on projects that anchor collaborative study. For example, students will apply advanced algebra and biology concepts to design and engineer a sustainable hydroponic garden.
Academic achievement requires more than advanced academic instruction. It is the consequence of connected supports, including positive school culture, consistent adult guidance, and developed character competencies. Research explains that adolescent achievement is significantly strengthened by close, consistent, and meaningful socioemotional support. The Search Institute explains that developmental relationships with young people are the single most influential thing adults can do to help them succeed.” Students who are more confident and more comfortable are also more engaged, more motivated, and more resilient.
Our core values connect high-leverage character strengths identified by the Character Lab at the University of Pennsylvania with assets explored in other research and practice. The Workshop specifically highlights actions and intentions that promote healthy and positive adolescent development, including creativity, curiosity, initiative, optimism, and resilience.
As a very small school, the Workshop develops meaningful personal relationships with students and families. Research explains that when students feel more comfortable, they are also more engaged, more motivated, and more resilient. Every student deserves adults in school that “appreciate them, understand them, and care for them.”
A strong school culture helps drive academic and social learning. School culture identifies the principles and values a school believes in. But it isn’t just an idea: it includes the practices, routines, and structures that establish or reinforce our values through action.
We emphasize community circle, micro-advisory, and session as elements that help build school culture. For example, students and teachers lead Community Circle every day. Meetings scaffold larger ideas, including collaboration, equity, and mindfulness. Mindfulness activities can include include yoga, tai chi, or other meditative practice.