What is the Intellectual Virtues Academy?
The Academy is a public charter high school, grades 9-12, welcoming the first class of ninth grade students in August 2016. As the name suggests, the school focuses on fostering “intellectual virtues” or what some education theorists call “habits of mind,” “thinking dispositions,” or “non-cognitive skills.” In addition to state public school funding, we are also funded by a $2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
What are “intellectual virtues” and why are they important?
In short, they are the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner – traits like curiosity, wonder, open- mindedness, and intellectual perseverance or “grit”. Intellectual virtues involve the best practices for human thinking, whether the area of study is math, history, or any other subject. These qualities are highly sought after by colleges and employers when they are looking for prospective students and employees.
Where is the Academy located?
Intellectual Virtues Academy (Academy), has secured a location in the Wrigley/Washington neighborhoods of Long Beach at 1637 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90813. The location provides spacious classrooms, a front office, a counseling office, an indoor/outdoor lunch area, and staff work stations fully-built out. In future years, the Academy will have a fully-functional science laboratory, academic support rooms, a music/theater room, library, and study hall. The campus was purchased by Millworks, who transforms architecturally intriguing spaces for non-profit and community use.
The facility is located just off Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach Boulevard, offering easy access to the school through the Blue Line and several different Long Beach Transit lines.
How many students go to the Academy?
In the first year, the Academy welcomed one class of ninth graders, approx. 50 students. The Academy will add the 10th, 11th and 12th grades in the following three years as the founding class approaches graduation, for a maximum total of 480 students. By design, Academy students are members of a small, caring and thoughtful educational community focused on equipping students to learn and live well.
All incoming students will need to submit an application either online, or a hardcopy within our brochure to be submitted to the lottery. The 2017 lottery will be held at the end of February. Our Lotteries are public events and all are welcome. Applications received by the January application deadline will be entered into the Lottery. All applications turned in after the deadline are entered onto the wait-list in first come, first served order. Once a student is offered a enrollment position, students must submit registration materials to be secure their enrollment.
Current IVA middle school students are not automatically enrolled.
Does the Academy welcome students with special needs, Individual Education Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans? How about English Language (EL) Students?
Absolutely! Our school services students with disabilities in the least restricted environment, based on an inclusion model. As a small school, we will be able to meet the unique needs of all students on a differentiated instruction. Additionally, we weave the ELD standards throughout our program and provide additional support for EL students.
The Academy functions as a local education agency (LEA) and have a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for purposes of providing special education and related services pursuant to Education Code §47641(b). In other words, the Academy oversees all Special Education providers and services ensuring that all of its students have access to a free and appropriate public education.
How does an intellectual virtues-based education model differ from other models?
The focus of an intellectual virtues approach is deeply personal in the sense that it is about nurturing personal qualities like curiosity, wonder, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage and open- mindedness. Therefore, the ultimate goal of an intellectual virtues approach is much richer and more meaningful than, say, the achievement of high scores on standardized tests. In addition, an intellectual virtues approach is academically rigorous. This is because intellectual virtues aim to develop a deep understanding and wise application of important knowledge. They demand much more than short-term memorization of isolated facts.
The model also meaningfully defines certain familiar, but all too often vague education ideals, like a love of learning. We believe that to have a genuine love of learning or to be a life-long learner, is to possess a range of intellectual virtues like curiosity, reflectiveness, a love of knowledge, intellectual determination and perseverance, open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, creativity, imagination, intellectual honesty and integrity. What makes this model unique is that it involves exploring these concepts in detail and making them an explicit and central part of what goes on in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. As stated by Jason Baehr, an intellectual virtues thought leader and co-founder of Intellectual Virtues Academy,
“Society at large will benefit significantly from the training provided by an [intellectual virtue] education. To be trained in the intellectual virtues is to be trained to *think* and more specifically, to think deeply, carefully, and well. This is a kind of fulfillment or ‘perfection’ of human nature; as such, it is valuable in its own right. But knowing how to think deeply, carefully, and well is immensely valuable in all sectors of life. There is hardly a profession, line of work, or other vocational pursuit in human life that is not benefited by this ability. Accordingly, Intellectual Virtues Academy will graduate students with the skills and capacities to perform well in their chosen careers and to live thoughtful and intelligent lives.”
What do you actually teach?
Fostering intellectual virtues is not an alternative to a rigorous standards-based curriculum. To the contrary, it is through an active and reflective engagement of core academic knowledge and skills that students learn to practice the intellectual virtues. Our curriculum will be aligned with, and promote, a genuine mastery of Common Core State Standards.
What does a typical day look like?
The Academy offers college preparatory classes that competitively prepare students for a range of post-secondary options, such as UC and Cal State Universities. Academy students will take seven courses in ninth grade: English I, Math (Algebra I, Algebra 1H, Algebra IIH), Conceptual Physics, Physical Education, Introduction to Logic, and a Writing Tutorial. Students may choose to extend their learning through honors and AP courses.
What is a charter school?
In 1992, the California Charter Schools Act was passed in order to encourage innovation and increase opportunities for students, families, and teachers within the public education sphere. A charter school is a tuition-free public school that operates independently from local school districts. As schools of choice, all charter schools are open to any student who wants to apply, regardless of where he or she lives within the state. If more students apply than space permits, charter schools are required to hold a lottery for admission. There are no admission tests or tuition fees at charter schools.
Charter schools have flexibility in the design of their school programs, their personnel decisions, and their resource allocation. In exchange for this freedom, public charter schools are held accountable for their school’s performance including student achievement, organizational and fiscal management, and stakeholder satisfaction. Charter schools are independently operated, but public, non-sectarian, non-profit, open enrollment schools.
The Academy has been charted through the Los Angeles Office of Education.
“Charter Schools are innovative public schools started by educators, parents and communities, open to students of every background or ability. But, they’re freer of red tape and top-down management than most of our schools are…Also, charter schools don’t divert taxpayer’s dollars from our public school system; instead, they use those dollars to promote excellence and competition within the system and in doing so, they spur all our public schools to improve.” – President Bill Clinton, 1999
What does the school calendar look like?
The yearly calendar and holidays will largely mirror the Long Beach Unified School District’s calendar. You can view the calendar under the community link. The Academy’s school day begins at 7:55 a.m. and ends at 2:58 p.m., except for Thursdays, when dismissal is 1:18 p.m. to allow time for faculty dismissal. A block schedule is listed under the community link.
Who teaches at the Academy?
The Academy is committed to providing the very best teachers in every classroom. They are dedicated, innovative, engaging, passionate professionals that care deeply about your child’s growth and success. Click here to learn more about the Academy faculty.
What electives will you offer?
In the future, students will be able to take creative and formative elective courses. The current schedule allows for one elective period five days a week. For tenth grade, students will be taking a UC/CSU required Visual Art course for one year. Additionally, research shows that the use of both visual and performing arts in classroom teaching is an effective way of helping students engage new material and process it at a deeper level. Teachers at the Academy have the autonomy to incorporate art into their classrooms and lessons wherever they see fit to deepen their students’ understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.
What about extra-curricular activities?
We learn about ourselves through sports, music, art, theatre and related extra-curricular programs and we believe that makes such activities extremely worthwhile pursuits. As such, the Academy is committed to athletics, the arts, and a rich blend of extracurricular activities for all students. We offer a theatre course after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Because the Academy is a smaller school, students have numerous opportunities to participate and serve as leaders. Our sports teams compete in California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sanctioned or club sports; our artists showcase their work with, and compete against, other schools. As a charter school, we have resources in the form of grants, volunteerism and creative fundraising to help provide these unique extra-curricular activities. We will be identifying competent coaches and instructors who are interested in offering instruction generated by the passion and interest of students, faculty and staff.
Where can I learn more about the intellectual virtues?
There is an overwhelming amount of recent research in education, economics, neuroscience and other fields underscoring that success in life and school does not come from intelligence alone, but also from “non-cognitive skills” like curiosity, attentiveness, and open-mindedness – the intellectual virtues. Books on the subject include Paul Tough’s recent bestseller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character and Scott Seider’s Character Compass. You are also encouraged to visit intellectualvirtues.org.
What is the application process?
We are currently accepting applications for interested students in 9th and 10th grade for the 2017-18 school year and 9th through 11th grade for the 2018-19 school year.
Begin your application, or request more information about the Intellectual Virtues Academy.