Intellectual Virtues Academy: Public High School

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Learning at the Academy

“We believe that a 21st century education must also be humanizing”



The Academy offers a rigorous, college‐preparatory curriculum in a student‐centered, experiential, and collaborative learning environment. The Academy will be a diverse and inclusive environment that welcomes, supports, and nurtures students from a wide range of backgrounds and with a range of gifts and abilities. The Academy’s small school setting will foster community affiliation, personalization, and security that leads to academic achievement and social‐emotional health.

As students learn how to learn and develop the skills and attributes of the intellectual virtues, they acquire the capacity for success in our rigorous program. By practicing the intellectual virtues and incorporating the Academy’s values, students thoughtfully explore how to think well: creatively, critically, and with a capacity for self‐growth.


Instructional Design

Education researchers have identified a range of methods and strategies that, when properly employed, are effective at promoting intellectual and other types of development. We recognize that students learn in a variety of different ways and at different rates. Therefore, Academy teachers will make skillful use of differentiated and personalized instruction to develop and deliver curriculum that is accessible to heterogeneous groups of students.


Some of the strategies that will be used include:


Creating a “Culture of Thinking”: Teachers and students alike will be free and encouraged to wonder, ask questions, and pursue their curiosities. Moreover, students respond to and further develop what others in the group have said, requiring knowledge that is accurate and relevant to the issue under discussion. This will give students daily opportunities to “practice” intellectual virtues as they master standards‐based core content.


Project‐Based Learning: Teachers will use well‐designed, well‐supported, and carefully monitored projects across different core subject areas. Students will be engaged by being provided authentic, real‐world application that promote a deeper grasp and thoughtful application of important knowledge.


Socratic Dialogue: A spontaneous but structured “Q&A” approach to instruction is an effective way of getting students to introspect and discover knowledge for themselves.


Focused Direct Instruction: This focused approach to direct instruction is an important and powerful means of conveying and connecting students with important knowledge. It builds their foundation for curiosity and wonder across all disciplines. This practice also hones the note‐taking, call, and response skills of students as they develop as thinkers and learners.


The Academy will prepare students to be educated in the 21st Century

Being an educated person in the 21st century requires, at a minimum, being informed. That is, it requires having a broad base of knowledge as defined in the state standards across several traditional subject areas, including math, science, history/social science, English Language Arts, foreign language, technology, physical education, and visual and performing arts. In an increasingly “flat” world, being an educated person today also involves being knowledgeable about other cultures and societies, the ways in which the decisions and ways of living of the members of one culture or society can affect those of another.


A person so educated must critically and creatively engage with great questions, ideas, and texts. History’s best minds have explored a range of fascinating questions, including: How does nature work? What is the structure of the physical world? Where did we come from? How should we live? How should governments operate? What is the nature of love? Of justice? One unique feature of the human species is its capacity for actively reflecting on these questions and on the ways these questions have been answered by generations of scientists, poets, historians, philosophers, and other thinkers across different times, traditions, and cultures. Accordingly, the ideal 21st century education develops in students the capacity to engage critically and creatively in this very human experience, and to do so empowered yet understanding one’s own limitations.


A 21st century education also fosters collaboration. To be collaborative, a person must be able to work as a team, develop interpersonal skills, respect and appreciate other perspectives, and, importantly, communicate effectively. In fact, research reveals that the most crucial success factor for project management in one’s profession is effective communications by all stakeholders. How we communicate also corresponds to how we think, thus a 21st century educated person must not only learn communication skills for their own sake, but also as part of becoming humanized or dignified as discussed above.



University of California and California State University Admissions Requirements

High school courses meet the “A‐G” requirements for the University of California, with a grade of C–minus or higher. Students are expected to complete the UC/CSU “A‐G” requirements as a condition for graduation, and are provided with wrap around support to do so. All courses will challenge students to demonstrate advanced mastery through complex performance tasks or challenges that require critical thinking, collaboration and communication.