We refer to Del Lago students as scholars. Why? Similar to scientists, mathematicians, historians, and artists, our scholars engage in deeper learning tasks that require them to seek out and attain new knowledge, apply what they have learned, and build upon that information to find solutions and to innovate. Learning to read, write, think, and behave like scholars is at the heart of success in college, 21st century careers, and civic life.
Scholars think beyond their discipline. Learning can no longer stop when exiting the individual classroom door. Meaningful solutions to complex issues such as feeding, fueling, or healing the world require interdisciplinary thinking. Del Lago scholars read, write, and think about interdisciplinary concepts and systems. Our scholars engage with professional mentors and serve internships with them. As a result, our scholars are expected to transfer their knowledge from one discipline to another.
Scholars value relationships. Success in the 21st century workforce requires individuals to work together in order to identify and create solutions to challenges. Meaningful, productive relationships are essential to deeper learning. We invest significant time to develop a school culture that fosters a strong sense of belonging, as well as an understanding that active learning with one another prepares our scholars for personal, career, and civic life.
Scholars spend a lifetime learning. They experience emotions such as passion, confusion, pride, frustration, and wonder. When they encounter difficulty or setbacks, they reflect, analyze, seek support, and move forward toward their learning goal. Del Lago scholars cultivate important skills for self-guided learning.
Our students are scholars. It is our vision for them. It is one powerful way we instill positive beliefs within them about academic work and their future. We do not view high school as practice for the future. Instead, the future is a journey that starts now, in high school, at Del Lago Academy.
It Takes A Village
Scholars at Del Lago Academy will be respected, supported, connected, and known as individuals. One structure to support this personalization is the village model of learning. Each scholar will be in a village of about one hundred students that share the same core teachers and support staff.
Collaboration time for Del Lago teachers is incorporated into the schedule so that teachers can discuss the best way to support each scholar in their village. Core content teachers, administrators, social workers/counselors, and special education teachers participate in village meetings in order to ensure a well-rounded plan for the social and academic welfare of each scholar in the village. In addition to building relationships with staff, the village system enables scholars to nurture relationships of mutual respect and support with their classmates.
The continuum of restorative practice includes how we speak to students on a daily basis and how discipline incidents are handled.
When a disciplinary problem occurs, or a relationship is harmed, scholars are provided the opportunity to meet in a controlled, supportive environment in order to learn about how their actions have affected others and what may be done to “repair the harm.” In this way, scholars are not only able to take responsibility for their actions, but they are also able to restore the relationship and sense of community.
All teachers and many support staff participate in a three day Restorative Practice training. These practices are modeled every day at Del Lago through morning meetings and staff meetings.
Additional information about Restorative Practices can be found by reading Defining Restorative by Ted Wachtel.
Role of Technology
Scientists, mathematicians, historians, and artists strive to deepen their understanding of the world around them. Professionals draw on each other’s expertise to fuel their curiosity. Such professionals develop and use technologies to explore the natural world, to think differently, and to bring together people from multiple disciplines. Together, these professionals innovate to solve complex problems.
Our mission and core values are shaped by these ideals. We view the high school years not simply as practice for the future. Rather, we call on our scholars to participate fully in the professional community. To realize these ideals, technologies at Del Lago Academy:
- Establish a professional work environment for all scholars by providing equitable access to information, peers, experts, and support.
- Encompass solutions beyond laptop and tablet devices to tools that enable us to explore objects big and small, fast and slow in our natural world.
- Extend learning outside the brick and mortar school walls to facilitate relationships with professionals – locally and globally – as critical friends and mentors.
- Develop empathy, compassion, and understanding of others.
- Promote reflection, conjecture, and iteration.
- Tell powerful stories and contribute knowledge to the professional community.
College and Career Readiness
Del Lago scholars are challenged to explore real-world problems that extend beyond the classroom by establishing side-by-side working relationships with industry mentors. These experiences enhance classroom learning and orient scholars to the corporate culture. As a result, scholars:
- Develop a positive self-concept;
- Recognize strengths and deficiencies;
- Value long-term goal setting;
- Cultivate relationships and professional networks;
- Gain leadership experience; and,
- Build knowledge and skills in the field.
Community and industry partners enrich the curriculum, provide scholars feedback on their work, share personal career experiences, and serve as mentors.
We are grateful to our industry partners for providing these meaningful opportunities that will have a lasting impact in the future career paths of our scholars.