NSA’s academic classes use a project-based model to engage students in true, deeper learning. Project-based learning sets a collaborative goal for the quarter or semester, and uses learning objectives as steps to reach that goal.
In this model, teachers serve as guides and facilitators, and students take ownership of their learning because they believe in the goal they helped to create, and see relevance in daily steps in the context of the final product.
In Juan Diego’s Biotechnology class this quarter, students are studying how Science and cooking combine by using microorganisms to our benefit. As part of their overall project, students captured live yeast from the air (experimenting with various mixtures of flour, sugar and acids) until they produced the best results. After a week, students had an active sourdough starter, which they used to make pizza crust, enjoying their creations at lunch to the envy of their peers.
Proof that Science can be delicious!
February and March have been exciting months for our senior students and our faculty, as the hard work of college applications is starting to pay off. Our seniors have received decisions from just under half of the schools to which they’ve applied, and the results are fantastic! So far, 94% of schools applied to have made offers of admission. Amazing programs, Colleges That Change Lives, and top universities want our students, and are offering merit scholarships to make them even more appealing.
Schools such as Pace University, Juniata College, Whittier, Rollins, and Loyola Marymount have – to date – offered our students a total of more than $688,000.00 in merit scholarships! Congratulations, seniors, on your well-deserved success!
Though it may seem like the college application process is just now ending, we are already having schools jump at the opportunity to admit our motivated, brilliant seniors. Each week brings new and exciting news for our students, with more sure to come.
Some of our recent acceptances include:
- Montana State
- Immaculata University
- Alvernia University
- Whittier (with a $28,000 per year scholarship)
- Juniata (with a $23,000 per year scholarship)
- Portland State (with a $24,000 per year scholarship)
The beloved (and much-used) music, recording and documentary film studio that was a new addition to our campus in 2015 has been inspiring students to reach their full creative potential. Something seemed to be missing, though: character!
Our Documentary Film teacher, Stephen, wanted to go for a retro look by draping the walls with Persian rugs. He even campaigned for a lava lamp. However, this would have altered the angles of the acoustically-designed walls.
Luckily, our Math teacher Christy is close friends with a talented California-based artist who makes occasional pilgrimages to Atenas. Monty donated supplies and dedicated nearly a week of his time to create a fantastic, music-inspired mural for our community.
Thanks to Monty, and to everyone involved in bringing more color to our beautiful campus.
New Summit Academy and our Young Adult Bridge Program are collaborating on a presentation at the annual National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) conference in Tucson, Arizona later this month. Executive Director Heather Tracy and Danny Recio, Program Director for the Bridge, are working together to present “To Surf or Not to Surf? The Benefits and Risks of Allowing Internet Use in Therapeutic Programs.”
NSA believes the important, positive identity forming and community building benefits of allowing students to share their experiences and growth online outweigh the risks, and Heather and Danny will be delving into this topic before a gathering of professionals in the industry. NSA is proud to continue sharing our cutting-edge practices to help improve student services in all programs.
NSA’s Academics are known throughout the industry as one of the most innovative, rigorous and creative programs out there. Our success with engaging all learning styles and developing academic skills is due in large part to our dedicated teachers implementing project- and problem-based learning in their classrooms.
This learning model begins with students and teachers collaborating to develop a project to be completed or a problem to be solved by the end of the semester. Teachers then develop steps to achieve this goal which incorporate the semester’s learning objectives, so that they are met as our students progress through the project.
This learning model helps to develop student ownership of their learning and allows students to place tasks and lessons into a greater context, improving student engagement. At the end of each semester, our community celebrates these projects at the Academic Fair, where students share the results of their efforts with their peers and staff.
This semester, students are working on various projects, including:
Each quarter at New Summit Academy begins with students collaborating with their Individual Goal Planning team to develop goals and steps for success. Students meet one-on-one with advisors to review their SCAFA scores as a foundation for these goals. SCAFA – Self, Community and Future – is NSA’s own student growth tracking system, developed over a decade of working with our students.
Our innovative system uses day-to-day student engagement to measure growth in Relationships, Social Skills, Executive Functioning, Resilience, Identity, and many more areas. This information is converted into goals at the start of each quarter, and Advisors from Academics, Personal Growth and Experiential Education will continually follow up with goals and steps to help ensure student success. What a way to prepare for the first day of classes!
Eight proud program graduates (five of them also high school grads) recently embarked on their culminating Aventura at New Summit Academy: summiting Chirripo, the highest peak in Costa Rica.
Their journeys began more than one year ago, when they participated in the first of their Integrated Aventuras, learning about and serving the Costa Rican community which would become their second home.
Throughout the following months, these students have worked hard, developed the skills they need for success, and now move forward to college or to finish high school.
On Friday, December 16th, New Summit Academy celebrated their efforts at our Winter Graduation Ceremony. Congratulations to our graduates, we look forward to hearing about your many upcoming successes!
Classes at New Summit Academy engage students through project-based learning: a collaborative, hands-on method of meeting learning objectives while developing student ownership of academics. Teachers and students collaborate in setting an end-goal – the completion of a project or solving of a problem each semester.
By working together to set goals, teachers and students are able to create an atmosphere of curiosity and inquiry, which NSA has found provides the context students need to drive learning. This December, our community celebrated the students’ efforts in project-based learning at our biannual Academic Fair.
Student presented their projects in front of peers, teachers, and our NSA families, showcasing the results of their learning this semester.
This semester’s projects included:
Updates like these make all of the efforts worth it:Hi, Kelly,
Life is fantastic right now! I am settled in to my dorm (my roommate is awesome) and have had two days of classes (already five hours spent on homework). I have met up with a lot of my old friends and I am hanging out with another NSA grad often, he’s doing great as well. We went on the same backpacking trip and saw a bear less than 15 feet away, walking toward us! It was a really fun trip and we had perfect weather with a full moon and blue skies.
I had a full time job this past summer as a dish washer with 50-hour weeks (roughly). I managed to go to three concerts through all of that: Rebelution, Guns n Roses, and Blink 182. At the Blink 182 concert, I caught the drummer’s drumstick!
I was sick right when I moved back (figures) but it only lasted a week and I’ve been healthy ever since. There already parties almost every day up here and I’ve managed to stay sober so far so that’s good, still having fun though.
I have no idea what I want to study but I think that is a good thing. I feel comfortable on campus and around all these people, everyone is really friendly up here.
I know I’ve said this before, but in times of reflection, I think I should say again that I am forever grateful for NSA and how it helped me turn my life around. Without it I would not be in college right now and maybe not even have a high school diploma. Then there’s all the emotional knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained, but I won’t go on about that (although it’s really important/advantageous). But the most important skills I learned at NSA were how to live with people, solve conflict, and open up as a person. I am so comfortable around everyone here, and it helps others be comfortable around me. It’s quite an experience to look back on, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Feel free to share this with people and I will write a letter to Martin ‘cause he deserves one and he helped me so much.
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