By: Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning High School (SAEL)
February 11, 2013 - Have you been a student in a high school classroom asking, "Why do I need to know this?" Have you wondered what a school would be like if it were rigorous and college-focused, but also engaged students in authentic ways of thinking and working—the same ways used by professionals and artisans all over the world? Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning High School (SAEL) opens this August to fulfill this promise. SAEL, which has just received a large school start up grant from the state, opens this fall serving grades 9 and 10, and will expand to grades 9-12 by 2015.
SAEL is a rigorous, project-based, college prep, charter high school. SAEL's curriculum promotes deep inquiry through interdisciplinary academic units called 'learning expeditions' that link subjects together. As an example, one of many compelling academic investigations that SAEL offers its students is Whose Forest is it? In this learning expedition, students study the history of the timber industry and burn cycles in social studies; read and discuss reports and literature on the Sierra forests in English; uncover the ecology of trees as they practice forestry in science; and develop the numerical skills needed to survey and calculate the potential outputs of the forest in math class.
Inquiry does not stop there. SAEL students are expected to take their research into the community and also the world beyond. As a final product of their studies, students apply their writing skills to the analysis and synthesis of scientific data to create a high quality forest inventory and management report that they share with the public in multimedia presentations. Learning this way is learning as it occurs in the real world and develops skills useful throughout life. All learning expeditions are developed by highly qualified teachers to meet and exceed state and Common Core national standards, as well as satisfying UC/CSU A-G college readiness requirements.
The effectiveness of Expeditionary Learning (EL) schools has been proven by several third-party national research studies. EL is a national model of school transformation, serving over 168 schools and 40,000 students in 30 states. There are over 60 EL high schools in the United States; SAEL is the first EL high school in California.
SAEL endeavors to serve the desire of students to be strong leaders, curious investigators, and compassionate contributors in their high school. At SAEL, students, staff, parents and community are seen as 'crew, not passengers;' all are pulling the oars of daily work to arrive at a common destination—achievement. SAEL aims to cultivate citizen scholars who harness their strong character, moral compass, and creative intellect to manifest good among the community in which they live.
To learn more about this exciting new high school, visit SAEL's website www.sierraacademy.net and come to one of the information nights being held. In the words of Kurt Hahn, who inspired EL's philosophy, a school should encourage students to "Grow into what you are ... There is more in you than you know. If we can come to discover this, we may never again settle for anything less."
Sierra Academy is a new Expeditionary Learning High School in the Grass Valley/Nevada City Area in California. We will combine academic rigor, engaging teaching, meaningful work, and adventure. The goal of our school, and all Expeditionary Learning schools, is to have 100% of graduating seniors be accepted to a four-year college. Like SierraAcademyEL on Facebook, or follow SAEL on Twitter @SierraAcademyEL. Expore the Expeditionary Learning model at www.elschools.org.
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