I have had many posts about time management, living according to your values, making sure you incorporate into today what matters to you in life. I am clearly guilt at times of poor time management (what can I say, many things matter to me). Here is a project I have been allocating a lot of my free time to, but much less of my time, than the educators and founding members who have been pouring hours of their lives to building a school from scratch. Here is a letter I drafted to explain our program to those who have shown interest in Empower.
I am on the board of directors for a new school, Empower Charter School, which we hope to open Fall 2014 with K-5th grade classes. We are looking for a location that is central to San Diego, and currently are focusing our search in the Linda Vista neighborhood. As a parent, a licensed clinical psychologist who specialized in child and adolescent issues and a nutrition and lifestyle coach I am both excited and inspired by Empower Charter School’s plan.
What does Empower Charter School hope to add to the academic landscape of San Diego?
As you know, budgetary cuts, educational agendas and the reality of time and energy constraints have made it very difficult for schools to provide all they can to their students and for our educators and their support staffs to reach their true potential and meet all the needs of our children and their families. Empower Charter School hopes, to create an environment that will address some of these issues elegantly and effectively. Our school is founded on four basic principles:
- Inquiry based learning
- Writing centered collaborative approaches to education and communication
- Use of appropriate and contemporary high-tech media for both the educators and the students
- The inclusion of effective and appropriate fitness and health programs for the student body and their families.
What does this mean?
With regards to the inquiry based learning, we believe that our students are capable of actively participating in the educational process. Students and educators will work together to determine how best to present the information and knowledge in their curriculum. We see the relationship between student and educator as a complementary one, where children’s questions and interests will shape how information is presented to them, rather than simply seeing them as passive vessels within which we pour facts and information. Inquiry based learning can take several forms including project- based learning, where children work together on a project and use this as a foundation to learn and practically apply their knowledge, problem-based learning where the students choose a problem they are interested in exploring and use that as a platform for learning or alternatively starting lesson plans by asking questions to students and finding our what they want learn about the subject.
Writing is central to our communication and social interaction today. With online media becoming more and more part of our daily life, and social media defining a large part of peer relations and in the future professional interactions it is imperative that our children learn how to effectively communicate their thoughts in writing. Instead of writing only being part of English or literature classes, we at Empower Charter School have chosen to incorporate it across disciplines including hard sciences and artistic fields.
We are in the age of the computer; we are fortunate today to have so many different types of media available for us to work with. Empower Charter School believes in teaching our children how to use these tools to their advantage. By incorporating up-to-date technology in our schools we hope to give students the opportunity to learn in an environment that will match what they find outside the school grounds. Furthermore, we hope to engage the children in the learning process by providing them with the same tools they use at home and will use in college and at work. Whether it be through the use of blogs, or programs such as Google Docs, which will allow students to share their work and receive feedback openly and instantaneously, we aim to provide the school with up to date technology and engaging platforms for discussion and education.
Last, but certainly not least comes fitness and health. Learning best occurs in environments where students feel capable, healthy and safe. We know that exercise helps stimulate the brain, and there is a correlation between physical activity and test scores. More importantly we understand that learning how to take care of yourself and be healthy is part of growing up to be a productive and successful human being. We want to give our student the best chance at life, and that means teaching them how to be strong, how to eat well and how to feel confident. We are going to integrate a highly effective fitness program in our school to achieve that. Furthermore we are planning on providing the children with both the knowledge and access to healthy meals to fuel them throughout their day. Empower Charter School is also committed to helping the community grow as whole and we plan on going beyond the classroom and educating the parents and families of our students so that they can too can be the healthiest versions of themselves and prosper.
What will Empower Charter School students look like?
We hope to have a diverse student body, one in which each student can learn something new from the next. With the help of our educators and our program we expect to produce well-rounded, well-spoken and successful individuals. Our aim is to make sure that every student graduating from Empower Charter schools:
1) Shows mastery of the curriculum and is able to apply that knowledge
2) Is well versed on how to seek and obtain the information and knowledge they will need in the future
3) Is able to plan our their learning, and can identify learning goals and the appropriate means of reaching those goals.
4) Can work collaboratively with others’
5) Is capable of clearly and effectively communicating their thoughts both verbally but also in writing
6) Has a strong and defined sense of who they are, what they need and how they can uniquely contribute to society
7) Understands how to be healthy, how to take care of themselves and how to incorporate healthy nutrition and fitness in their lifestyle.
To learn more abotu the school or participate in it’s founding please click HERE