Rigor without relevance is simply hard.
These words from educator and reading specialist Kylene Beers ring true for teachers at Community Preparatory School. While meeting standards and preparing students for college and beyond are of the utmost importance, of equal import is knowing the students you serve and providing work that is relevant. The standards provide a guide for teachers. Relevance is the work of the master teacher who finds ways to bring the standards to life by connecting them to students. We know kids will work incredibly hard at something when they see the purpose behind it.
In addition to exceeding standards and finding deeper meaning and purpose in what they are learning, we want Community Prep students to develop the habits of hard-working, compassionate, informed human beings. We strive to build curricula that inspires students to solve problems, work cooperatively, and take on a variety of perspectives. When you walk into a Community Prep classroom, you will see students working together, grappling with texts, questioning, experimenting, arguing, and engaging in real world problem solving.
Language arts teachers take care to select works that will challenge students to think deeply about themes relevant to the adolescents we serve. We understand the need for students to see themselves reflected in the stories we share. We know students can build empathy by reading stories about characters who are different from themselves. We also know students in the middle grades are ready to tackle narratives that require them to think introspectively as well as to think about the larger world.
Math teachers at Community Prep require students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the underlying processes involved in problem solving. We require students show their work as well as narrate problem solving in learning notebooks. Math students give presentations in class to become the teachers and walk peers through the steps to solve complex problems. Students who demonstrate strong math skills and equally strong work habits have the opportunity to take advanced math coursework culminating in Geometry in the eighth grade.
Science teachers design hands-on labs and experiments which require students to work through the same processes as scientists. The OHPIC process, developed by our physical science teacher, asks students to: observe, hypothesize, plan, investigate, and conclude. Students study Earth science in grade six, biology in grade 7, and physical science in grade 8. They engineer earthquake proof structures, build cell models, design Rube Goldberg machines, and more.
Social Studies teachers expose Community Prep students to RI history, ancient civilizations, and the history of the United States. Students learn to view history through multiple perspectives, not just a Euro-centric one. We want students of history to develop historical empathy. In addition to our history, students keep up with current events on a national and global level.
We teach more than just academics at Community Prep. As a Kingian Nonviolence School, we teach the principles of nonviolence as well as the steps for peaceful conflict reconciliation. We want students to leave Community Prep with the skills they need to communicate effectively and solve the conflicts that are a normal, natural part of our lives and relationships. We give students the steps and tools they need to gather information, negotiate, and look for peaceful reconciliation.
At Community Preparatory School, teachers, students, and staff work incredibly hard everyday to make the most out of this opportunity to learn and grow together.