- If my child enters sixth grade this coming year, what will happen the following year since you only offer K-6 in the 2013-2014 academic year?
LCA is a small independent (that is, private school), emphasizing science, math, and the language arts, that provides a nurturing environment, with small classes and supportive teachers. Cooperative teaching and small class size allow the children to surge ahead in their fields of interest and talent, while being supported in other areas, both academic and social. While academic excellence is of primary importance, the Academy considers the emotional and social development of the students to be critical. It is essential that the children learn to form strong, healthy relationships with both other children and adults. They should come to understand the importance of trust, cooperation, and caring to build and maintain these relationships. We ultimately hope to produce very well-educated, caring, engaged, open-minded citizens who will become leaders in their local communities and the world.
Ultimately, we intend to offer pre-K through 12th grade. Now, while we are in our startup phase, we will accept only young children, from kindergarten through 6th grades (for August, 2013). We will add at least one grade level per year, until we reach the 12th grade, so that every student who enrolls with us can stay at LCA until they graduate from high school.
There are two reasons we are starting with only the elementary grades and the first year of middle school. Number one, logistically and financially it is much easier to start with fewer grades and the young children. The second reason is that while we expect to offer an academically excellent education, institutions such as colleges will be wary of accepting students from an unaccredited school they've never heard of. It takes several years to gain accreditation since we can not begin to apply until after operating with a positive financial balance for two years. We will ensure that we are accredited and well-known before our first students begin to apply for acceptance into college.
If my child enters sixth grade this coming year (2013-2014), what will happen the following year since you only offer K-6 this year?
We intend to add at least one additional grade level each year, so there will always be classes for her/him (at least until it's time for college).
The number of students who have been admitted and whose parents have reserved a place is sufficient. We currently have 33 students, and our enrollment goal is 50 students for the 2013-2014 year) for financial reasons. We believe this goal to be realistic, given our history of growth, from 13 students at the start of the 2009-2010 year, to 21 the next year, then 27, then 35.
Yes. The high school will be based in part on the model of the Perth Modern School of the mid-1900s. This school enrolled the top entering high school students of Western Australia, which at that time had a population of ~80,000 citizens. These students spent half of the school day doing rigorous academic work with excellent teachers; the other half they spent studying whatever topic they wished. The graduates of this tiny school, located in a very isolated state, became known locally as the Perth Mafia, because the graduates were found in the state government, the national government, and international organizations, such as the UN and the World Bank.
The founders have also taken bits of educational philosophy from other private schools and educational experts, including the http://www.imsa.eduIllinois Mathematics and Science Academy, http://www.ncclschool.comthe Newark Center for Creative Learning (one of our faculty members worked for, and had a student at, this wonderful place), and the Montessori schools.
We are adopting the Singapore Math curriculum because it has produced the highest scoring students in international exams of mathematics. Its main difference from the programs used in most of the schools in the U.S. is that it goes through the required topics in a systematic manner, ensuring mastery in each topic before going to the next topic. Most U.S. schools repeat the same material every year in upper elementary schools, thus covering a very large amount of material, but each topic for a very short time. Many local school teachers complain that they are forced to cover an entire textbook in a year, even though the students do not understand the material. As a result, U.S. students score very poorly in math during international competitions. This is unfortunate because, in business, these higher-scoring graduates in other countries are the competition for jobs which require a strong education.
A private school is run independently of many government regulations, particularly those that regulate what is taught. Private schools have many freedoms because of this, although they must raise the money to pay their expenses. We consider there to be two major advantages to being private; first we do not have to give all the tests mandated for the public schools, such as those for No Child Left Behind (we expect to meet and exceed all the educational standards anyways, including the new Common Core). The second is that we may set our own standards for teacher qualifications. Several studies have shown that teachers do better when they are well-trained in the subject they teach; unfortunately many “education” courses do not prepare future teachers for the subject they will teach. We do not have to hire only state-certified teachers. While many of our teachers are/will be certified, many will not because they have taught in other private schools or in colleges and universities, which do not require certification. We want teachers who know and love their subject and will do whatever is required to help students understand the material.
A third advantage of being a private school is that we may set admissions standards, which is why we are able to accept only students who are gifted or academically advanced. All of the public schools, including the charter schools and magnet schools, must accept all the students who apply. If there are more students who apply than can be admitted, the students who are accepted are selected by lottery. Thus, students who are very qualified and strongly wish to be admitted have no more advantage than a poorly motivated, low functioning student. We believe in academic excellence and can ensure that we admit only those students who are capable of attaining that standard.
The Academy is non-sectarian, not associated with any religious group. It does not promote or denigrate any religion. Most local private schools are affiliated with a church or other religious institution. Typically the religious group helps fund the school and determines what is taught, including religious instruction.
Almost all private schools are non-profit, which means that they do not make a profit from the educational programs, and any money raised is reinvested in the educational programs. They are not owned by an individual, a company, or stock holders, although they must be incorporated and administered by a publicly-reported administrative group. In the event that a non-profit group fails or closes, all its assets must be given to another non-profit group. The benefit of being a non-profit is that all donations to LCA are tax-deductible. Since we have always intended to reinvest all revenue back into the school, becoming a 501(c)(3) was the clear choice. We have had 501(c)(3) status since the date of our incorporation, 2 March 2007.
- Charter schools must follow the regulations set by either the local school board or the state, including those that require that all the teachers be certified. We insist that all our teachers be highly qualified, but this does not mean they will all be certified. We expect that the high school level classes will be taught by faculty members who also teach at the university. These people are almost never certified as teachers, even though they have a graduate degree in their academic field and often many years of teaching experience.
- We were concerned that if we did start as a charter school, and the controlling public body decided it wanted to close the school, it would be extremely difficult to convert the school to a private school rapidly enough to protect the educational process for the students.
- It is our fear that if we started a charter school the public school system would insist on making it open to all. We intend this school to be only for gifted and academically advanced students in the foreseeable future. The regulating public school system has insisted that the local magnet schools accept students on the basis of a lottery system, as opposed to based on ability and demonstration of interest. The magnet schools have been much weakened by this requirement.
- None of the founders who actually work in the Academy is a certified school administrator or even a certified teacher. Charter schools are required to have a certified administrator and all the teachers must be certified.
We are renting the excellent space in the former Preston Contemporary Art Center, at 1755 Avenida de Mercado in Mesilla, just off Avenida de Mesilla. A map is linked here. Eventually we must move to a larger space in order to accommodate our growing enrollment. We are currently looking for property to buy, with the hope that we will find an affordable piece of land between 3 to 10 acres.
The curriculum of the Academy emphasizes science, math, and language arts (English, Spanish, & Chinese) However, we believe that a well-educated individual must have a strong background in social studies (history, geography, government, economics), art, music, etc. Most of the subjects of study are taught as distinct topics as well as being integrated into other relevant classes in order to assure mastery. The students have scheduled breaks, time to play, and physical activity each day to help ensure that they have healthy bodies and minds.
Because the students are challenged to do their best, and not necessarily judged in relationship to the performance of the other students, no single-number or -letter grades are given to students, especially those in the elementary grades. We instead send a written report, describing the progress of the student. For instance, we expect most students will master skills such as being able to identify fractions and convert them to decimal values. This mastery, or any problems with mastering material will be reported. While this type of report card requires more work by the teachers, it is more valid, particularly since the population of the Academy is not an "average" sample of Las Cruces students. Given the abilities of the Academy students the average grade would be expected to be "A". We want the parents to know exactly how the students are doing, not how they are doing relative to the other students.
Yes. The students are taught art and music in separate classes. The two are integrated into other subjects as well, i.e. in world history and geography the students hear the music of the various regions and also through history. The same is true of art.
Several local schools have done away with recess and other breaks with the logic that more time in the classroom equates to more learning. Anyone who has sat through a particularly long talk can tell you that they would have been able to pay more attention if they had been able to take breaks. In support of our decision to provide frequent breaks is the example of the schools of Finland (currently considered the most successful school system in the world) which give their students frequent periods of activity during the school. These frequent breaks allow the students to be active so they can later become totally engaged in learning, but the time periods are short enough that the students are not exhausted afterward. Physical activity has also been shown to be essential for good mental and physical health.
We have started the Academy using the inheritance from Grace Kay, a life-long educator and mother of Dr. Lou Ellen Kay, Head of School and founder of LCA. There is enough money to ensure that the Academy is successfully started. We have been the grateful recipients of approximately $100,000 in cash and a similar amount in goods, as well as having benefited from many donated services. Lou Ellen and her husband, Vince Gutschick, chair of the board, keep costs low by working for no pay, as does their son, David Gutschick, on a part-time basis while being a Ph. D. student in engineering at the Ohio State University. In June, 2012, the Academy hired Marcus Crawford as director of development, to carry along the now-formal fundraising campaigns, such as the annual campaign. A parent committee works with Marcus. We are giving our Academy parents, friends, and members of the Las Cruces community the opportunity to advance our goal of educating fine students and enriching the community intellectually and economically.
We feel very strongly that we should help the local community and also help our students develop leadership skills. The Academy will do this via production of educational exhibits for the museum. The younger students will be taught the material related to the exhibit and then will function as docents. One of the concerns when dealing with very intelligent children is that they often have a difficult time dealing with “average” people. When placed in the safe, controlled environment of the museum, the students will get practice speaking with members of the public. If our students are to become successful leaders they must learn to communicate to all types of people. This skill will be advanced via the museum.
The displays of the museum will be developed and produced by the high school students. These are the ultimate products of the second half of the school day mentioned above in the question about model schools. Each student will select a topic they wish to study, with of course, relevant guidance by appropriate faculty members. The students will ultimately produce a museum exhibit. This will require self direction, having to learn needed skills to produce what is needed. While they are certainly expected to ask for advice when needed, they must do the projects by themselves. When the display is complete, the student-producer will train the younger students who will act as docents. This training activity will provide leadership experience for the older students, teaching them to present information in a clear, intelligible manner.
Yes. In fact we expect that students who have been in the Academy most of their school life will be taking mostly or only college level classes in high school.
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