|Northwest Prep Charter School||
...there was a school where every staff member actually knew every student really well?
-Where the students all know each other, and are themselves teachers and mentors? Where a culture of respect for each other and for the staff is not only an intended, but a natural outcome of the program.
...there was a school that provided essential skills and concepts in a non-traditional way?
-Where the students work together on long-term projects that integrate Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Visual and Performing Arts, and Digital Arts and culminate in multimedia Exhibitions that demonstrate not just what the students have learned…. but what they have created.
...there was a school where "21st Century Skills" are actually taught?
-And taught inherently, as a product of a Project-Based Learning model based on inquiry, leadership Skills, and teamwork. Where students practice and develop their ability to think and analyze critically, collaborate productively, manage time and resources, communicate effectively and persuasively, and express themselves creatively.
...there was a school where confidence builds in the students?
-As they are challenged and then guided to success, frequently exceeding their own expectations of what they can do and accomplish.
...there was a school where the community came together to recognize and celebrate learning and academic accomplishment?
-To be inspired by Exhibitions of every student’s hard work. Where you and the entire school community recognize the culmination of months of learning -- academically, socially and personally.
...there was a school where every graduate is truly qualified to take the next steps towards college and career?
-And where an experienced and dedicated College Advisor will work with each student individually and continuously from admission to graduation, making recommendations that include a broad range of careers and colleges and universities that take into account each student’s unique talents and interests.
That school is....
Northwest Prep Charter School
Northwest Prep Charter School
2590 Piner Rd.
Santa Rosa, CA
The education experience at Northwest Prep for both students and teachers is contextual, active, and authentic. Project-Based work and field studies are the norm. Academic competencies are integrated with professional skills and guided by the Driving and Guiding questions developed by students and staff. Each semester’s long-term whole school project is driven by an over-arching Driving Question. The curriculum in all classes is carefully designed to scaffold and build student’s knowledge and abilities to be able to adequately and appropriately address this question and Guiding Questions through a series of formative benchmarks, and finally through summative, high stakes Academic Exhibitions.
Northwest Prep is designed as a six year secondary program for students. At NWP every student is well known and respected. NWP’s student body of 120 students, and staff of 8 teachers, including the school’s Director and Counselor, are small by design. Students are generally blended in grades 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12, but in the course of all long-term projects, "groups" and "sections" include grade levels 7-12. Teachers share responsibility for all of NWP’s students and work with them all over several years. Each teacher also has an Advisory where they work closely with a group of students for at least two years. Advisors serve as advocates for their students, and as a liaison between staff, students, and parents. Advisors also facilitate NWP’s Careers X program during the Advisory period (more on Careers X below).
Authentic and Powerful Accountability
Students, parents and staff use a broad range of approaches to measure academic and personal growth. The most important and valuable assessment is consistent conversation. Conversation, facilitation, and mediation regarding student work and overall process occurs one-on-one, with small groups, and through seminars. Both students and teachers routinely examine progress and proficiency using systematic inquiry and reflection. Students employ personal web portals to compile and share digital portfolios, collaborate with peers on project benchmarks, post blogs, video conference, archive work, and post work for peer and teacher evaluation. All students participate in culminating Academic Exhibitions where they are evaluated by members of the entire school community. Prior to graduation each student must formally present and defend a multimedia portfolio of work and experiences that demonstrates evidence that they have achieved proficiency in Northwest Prep’s Leadership Skills (see below).
A Community of Learners
Northwest Prep’s students, staff, and parents are active participants in a truly collective endeavor focused on instilling in students a desire to develop successful habits of mind, and an appreciation for the importance of continuing education. We work hard to develop strong positive relationships and a culture of appreciation, trust, and respect within the entire school community. Students produce whole-school Community Meetings where they communicate important information, showcase student talents and accomplishments (music, poetry, athletics, etc.), and address issues they feel are important in town hall styled forums.
Real World Immersion
Though Northwest Prep is a small educational enclave, it is not an island. Students and staff work to regularly find opportunities for students to interact with other students, and successful adults, in the community and beyond. Northwest Prep encourages and accommodates students to take classes at Santa Rosa Junior College, and Sonoma State University, as well as online courses in areas that we can’t offer due to staffing constraints. In the course of their project work, students are required to interact with experts in the fields that they are exploring, and with professional mentors with whom they are communicating, job shadowing, or interning with in the Careers X program. Students are also required to communicate through email or video-conferencing with students from other states and countries in order to gain diverse perspectives on project topics and issues.
NWP’s Crossroads program guides students through multi-year college and career exploration, job shadows, and professional internships. All students are also taught professional public speaking and communication skills on an ongoing basis. The main goal of the program is to, over time, create individualized pathways for each NWP student. When students leave Northwest Prep, they leave with an informed plan for their future.
Grades 7 and 8 focus on exploring their interests, abilities, and talents. Grades 9 and 10 focus on exploration of the vast range of careers and different types of colleges and training programs that prepare students for them. Grades 11 and 12 learn how to identify and secure professional internships and develop a plan to actively contribute in their placement. NWP links students to all levels and fields of the professional workplace. We provide students with the opportunity to apply the many practical benefits from their PBL experience, to provide a service to their mentors and their organizations, and to further develop their professional and academic skills. The Crossroads experience empowers student's ability to make informed choices for life after high school.
NWP Leadership Skills are the foundation of the Northwest Prep program. They are the backbone of NWP’s school culture and curricular goals. When students leave Northwest Prep for targeted post-secondary experiences, they leave proficient in all of the Leadership Skills. We know from our graduates that students who are truly proficient in these skills, will be successful no matter what path they choose after high school.
Students handle themselves with confidence and act with honesty and courage. They commit to their developing beliefs and are willing to assume roles as inquiring observers, active participants, and dynamic leaders. They demonstrate positive working relationships across diverse groups, accept personal responsibility for their actions, and remain open to learning from the feedback and guidance of others.
Students develop and use the skills necessary to plan and engage in group projects. They work to resolve social and logistical conflicts and devise solutions to meet diverse needs. They collectively set goals and develop strategies to meet those goals. They evaluate the effectiveness of their approach and constructively adapt to new understandings as they arise.
Critical and Creative Thinking
Students identify problems and pursue opportunities from multiple perspectives. They locate, organize, analyze, and apply key information in inventive and imaginative ways. They design, evaluate, and employ a variety of strategies, tools, and skills to achieve innovative results. Students are independent, creative, and critical thinkers who question and connect to the world around them from both big picture and focused perspectives.
Students understand and practice effective communication using verbal and nonverbal language with intent, awareness, and accuracy. They are empathetic, emotionally intelligent, persuasive, and articulate. They are skillful self-advocates who effectively communicate their needs. Students internalize and present their understandings and ideas with confidence and clarity. Employing a variety of media, they use practical, academic, and artistic abilities to convey meaning in a clear and engaging fashion.
Students excel at making critical observations about their own learning and potential. They formulate meaningful and relevant questions that inspire and encourage further inquiry. Students consistently take charge of their education by reflecting upon and revising their own practices.
Citizenship and Global Responsibility
Students are engaged and informed citizens. They are empowered to create positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world. They are mindful and principled decision makers who understand the long and short-term effects of their actions on others and the environment. They practice compassionate, ethical, and active citizenship in local, global, and virtual settings. Students strive to achieve balance between their own needs and the needs of others.
Resiliency and Drive
Students are adept at taking intelligent risks and view mistakes as necessary steps toward learning and growth. They consciously identify their intentions and desires. They possess the tenacity and determination to work individually and collaboratively. They are self-motivated and self-regulated. Northwest Prep students confront challenges and persevere through adversity.
School Purpose and Expected School Wide Learning Results
Northwest Prep Charter School is a small, personalized, rigorous learning community where students are deeply engaged in, and thoughtful about, their learning. Teachers know students well and guide them towards expected outcomes by teaching them to ask good questions, and identify and solve meaningful problems. All students participate in a standards-based, academically rigorous Workplace Learning Program that allows them to interact with successful adults, apply their talents to real world challenges, and exhibit their skills and problem-solving abilities. Northwest Prep features standards-based, project and problem-based instruction, integrated curriculum, advanced technology, visual and performing arts, and performance-based assessments.
Upon graduation all NWP students are expected to have become highly proficient in all of the NWP Leadership Skills, pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), and be well-prepared for participation in college, the workplace, and their community .
Northwest Prep Expected Schoolwide Learning Outcomes (ESLR's)
The Northwest Prep Leadership Skills have been adopted as the Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs). Students are evaluated each semester on their growth in each of the Leadership Skills. In order to graduate from NWP, students must demonstrate evidence of proficiency, and receive an assessment of “capable” or “excellent” on all Leadership Skills in their Graduation Portfolio.
NWP Academic Performance Outcomes
- Read critically and write persuasively in the English language
- Recognize and describe relationships and patterns mathematically to solve concrete and abstract problems
- Apply scientific concepts and skills to solve problems, and use critical thinking skills to interpret scientific data
- Demonstrate an understanding of historical, political, social, and economic issues from multiple perspectives
- Use digital technologies appropriately as tools to enhance the achievement of academic and aesthetic goals and interpret, experience, create, and present original ideas and products.