The Mission of BKBA Community Site

The mission of BKBA Community Site is to create vibrant learners who are prepared for 21st century leadership roles in a safe, nurturing and small classroom environment. We educate the whole child, one student at a time, utilizing personalized learning plans and instruction that is rigorous and relevant. We pride ourselves on being a school that is focused on meeting the needs of our students.

Guiding Principles

Small School

The intimate scale reinforces meaningful everyday connections with advisors, mentors and peers.

Authentic Assessment

Student’s assessment is customized, while holding each student to high standards. They demonstrate their work in a real-world context. Students are prepared to become proficient or advanced on the State Standards Assessments.

Personalized Education, One Student at a Time

The curriculum is individualized, academically rigorous, and based on each student’s needs.

Building a Community, One Student at a Time

The school’s culture is founded on respect for individuality and diversity. Students and staff support each other as they learn from one another.

Family Engagement, One Family at a Time

Families are encouraged to become involved in making curriculum and assessment decisions in addition to contributing to the school day to day operations.

Education is Everyone’s Business

The school breaks down barriers between the school and community, serving the community while giving the whole community responsibility for education.

Interests/Real-World Learning

Learning is centered around real work, in context, outside of school.

Culture for Change

BKBA Community Site’s philosophy remains flexible, embracing change and responding to the needs of our students and the community.

Learning Goals

BKBA Community Site Learning Goals:

Empirical Reasoning
Social Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Personal Qualities

BKBA Community Site holds very high standards for students. We have designed our educational program from the end-goal backwards – meaning, we have a clear vision of our students skills, knowledge and personal qualities that will help lead them to success and fulfillment. However, we also know that to truly educate one student at a time, our goals for their learning must be flexible enough to accommodate the diversity of student needs and personal aspirations. Our assessment system then is based around two sets of goals, five school-wide Learning Goals, and each student’s own personal goals. Woven throughout all of the goals is our commitment that learning be real and meaningful, and that each student should become a life-long learner.

The five school-wide Learning Goals are based on our belief that our students must know how to reason, problem-solve and be cooperative members of the community. At BKBA Community Site, there is no canon of information that all students must know. In a world where information doubles every few years, we believe that the most important thing a student needs to know is how to learn.

BKBA Community Site advisors look at the big picture of each student’s learning and challenge the student to do academically rigorous project work that incorporates the Learning Goals and is focused around his or her personal interests and passions. Older students assist younger students in understanding and addressing the Learning Goals and are valued as role models of self-directed learning and goal achievement. Most importantly, Learning Through Interests projects provide students with the opportunity to address the Learning Goals in the real world.

BKBA Community Site’s Learning Goals are tools for problem solving. The Learning Goals are a framework for looking at the real-world knowledge and abilities necessary to being a successful, well-rounded person. They are not content-oriented curricula, nor are they completely distinct categories. Each goal focuses on an aspect of reasoning or community behavior. Students’ project work will often incorporate many overlapping elements of the Learning Goals.

Our Beliefs & Responsibilities

We believe that a child’s interests and passions are the key to his or her community site education and life-long learning, and that learning best takes place when each student is an active participant in his or her education. Our focus is not only on knowledge acquisition but is also on knowledge utilization. We strive to develop life-long learners with the ability to apply academic, practical and creative knowledge to real life experiences and challenges; this is why we believe that school-based learning is most effective when blended with outside experiences that broaden and deepen students’ learning and interests.

In order to translate these beliefs into practice, BKBA Community Site has made fundamental changes in the relationships between and among staff, students, parents, community organizations and businesses, the curriculum, and organizational structure. The culture, climate, and practices of the school reflect the individualized nature of the instructional program. Advisors advocate and mentor each student so that they are engaged in his/her own learning. Parents are active partners in the school by helping to set quarterly learning goals at scheduled meetings and participating in the evaluation of their child’s progress at exhibitions and a review of student portfolios. BKBA Community Site creates a structure, instructional methods, and a learning environment that supports students to become self-motivated, competent, life-long learners.

Big Picture Learning

BKBA Community Site is not alone in our visions and beliefs. Fortunately we are part of a larger network that shares our values and principles for educating students. Being a part of the Big Picture Learning network allows us to connect with other students and staff to share resources and ideas. This, in turn, promotes collaboration and increases rigor on the part of the students’ projects. It also allows the students to feel connected to a larger movement and develop meaningful relationships with students around the world.

Big Picture Learning’s mission is to lead vital changes in education, both in the United States and internationally, by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the real world of the greater community. We believe that in order to sustain successful schools where authentic and relevant learning takes place, we must continually craft techniques and test learning tools to make our schools better and more rigorous. Lastly, we believe that in order to create and influence the schools of the future, we must use the lessons learned through our practice and research to give us added leverage to impact changes in public policy.

The Big Picture Learning design is a dynamic approach to learning, doing, and thinking that has been changing the lives of students, educators, and entire communities since 1995. All of components of the design are based on three foundational principles: first, that learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student; second, that a student’s curriculum must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world; and finally, that a student’s abilities must be authentically measured by the quality of her or his work.

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