Arrival: SA upper school students walk into a physically healthy and socially supportive space appropriate for academic engagement. Embedded in Downtown Salisbury, the world is at students’ fingertips. From art galleries to college science labs, “real world” resources come from experiences throughout the community.
First Seminar: Mornings begin with high-fives and welcomes from teachers and peers as everyone settles into their first class of the day. The teacher guides the class through a Socratic seminar based on the previous day’s reading. Peers exchange ideas that challenge their thinking and build understanding as the teacher encourages connections to the other core contents and each student’s elective experiences.
First Lab: The whole group dissolves into small groups at various workstations around the room. Some students work together to research, while a few others get support directly from their teacher on an essay first draft. Additional support staff move seamlessly into the space to provide both acceleration for developing skills and enrichment for growing knowledge. Students and teachers work with clear focus on maximizing each students’ progress towards their learning goals.
Elective: Today, the class is walking out the back door to Lee Steet theatre, where the class has been meeting for the past two weeks to learn about set design. Today, the students will be working alongside the theatre volunteers to build a set piece for an upcoming show. It will be fun to see their own hard work come to life on the stage when the whole school comes back for the performance in a few short weeks.
Compass: Some peers, who have been off campus in the morning taking courses as Catawba, are back for Compass. Today, the class is reading a short excerpt about perspective and empathy. The discussion includes references to the target audience from the essays from earlier in the day. Another classmate points out how the perspective of the audience matters in the theatre as well. It’s interesting to think about how the work from each class fits together and even how each SA student’s perspective is unique and important in the school community.
Lunch: Lunch is a time to hang out with the whole school. Although some days students leave campus to enjoy lunch at nearby restaurants, today is special. Today is a pin-up critique where every student is displaying a personal work sample on the walls of the school’s common area. As students enjoy their lunch, they also take in all the interesting work their peers are developing. The number of sticky notes around each student’s work grows as peers leave encouragement and feedback. Rather than a culture of competition, SA culture celebrates student growth and the academic community that encourages new ideas.
Second Seminar and Lab: This whole-group class begins with the teacher modeling a new skill. After the whole-group instruction, the lab time provides opportunities for students to practice the skill and get one-on-one support from the teachers. As they show mastery of the skill, students begin to work more specifically on their individual goals for the week.
Clubs: Students from Catawba and community volunteers come into the school to help support the clubs’ activities. All SA students participate in clubs, not just to build their resume, but to expand their application of knowledge and skills learned from the day. Today’s clubs focus on civic engagement and range from environmental science club to Junior Civitans. Later in the week, clubs like chess, robotics, yearbook, and student TV provide opportunities to explore passions with peers across the school campus.
Dismissal & Extracurriculars: Some students stay beyond the end of the day to work on a project with their club. Some will meet at the local park for frisbee golf team practice. Others still will go to Catawba’s campus to participate in an ensemble.
Throughout the day, high engagement and student-specific teacher support has allowed students to avoid the drudgery of extensive amounts of homework. Though most students have no homework, many enjoy reading ahead or perusing a new book they picked up recently when their Compass class was at the public library.
The confidence students have, knowing their growth as learners, as citizens, and as unique individuals is supported at SA draws them back the next day, ready to engage and grow together.