Desert Academy http://www.desertacademy.org International Baccalaureate (IB) World School - Santa Fe, New Mexico Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:01:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Importance of Intangibles in Education http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/10/the-importance-of-intangibles-in-education/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/10/the-importance-of-intangibles-in-education/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:15:11 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=8458 There is a sense, among people who run schools, that something new is needed for the world of the 21st century…

“The times call for new, 21st century skills” seems to be the mantra.

Most advocates of 21st century education favor student-centered methods that allow students to take control of their own learning by collaborating, designing group projects and thinking about problems, for example. Yet, others say that more accountability for teachers and students is the key to success- more testing and earlier testing. Many schools, in a vain attempt to reach students, are structuring their teaching curriculum on mountains of data, which attempt to show that the group average scores are increasing on the ACT or some other standardized test. Our children are increasingly tested, molded, and motivated by a fear of the specter of accountability and judgment. And, also increasingly, that judgment is based solely on their propensity for factual recall.

Yes, accountability and testing is important. Providing rich content and the best possible curriculum are critical, (International Baccalaureate Program, for example). Still, there are several important, intangible – and often overlooked – factors of equal or greater importance. We need to think about the essence of what makes learning possible and teach the timeless skills that will lead to success in this century. I am convinced that these elements have always mattered and that they are not necessarily new; rather, they are the time-honored truths about teaching and learning which we must not forget, despite the push towards hard data as the only way to measure student success.

At Desert Academy, we observe the importance of these intangibles every day. Learning must be connected to prior knowledge and be relevant to the student. It must be personalized; there must be an environment that is forgiving, loving, and engaging – demonstrating respect for the individual learner, patience, and the expectation of student success from the moment we first meet the student. We must accept that we as educators are facilitators and that the environment in which learning takes place is paramount. We must acknowledge that there is more to education than data and scores, and that ultimately, non-achievement factors are integral to success in life and may not easily measurable.

Last summer I came across a report by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) entitled: What Work Requires of Schools. The report found, after interviewing business owners, educators, managers and people in various levels in the workforce, what was identified as “necessary” in order for young people entering the workforce to be successful was heavily weighted in favor of  “life skills” which included effort, behavior and attendance. 

It’s interesting and informative that these are precisely the three factors that get the most attention and conversation among faculty and administration – yet they are not generally thought of as something to be “taught” or “learned.” These factors, as a group, intuitively strike a chord in educators as indicators of things that are very important. Effort reveals the underlying passion and commitment a student possesses.  Behavior – the adhering to the explicit and implicit rules and conventions – aligns with character development in general – how a student interacts with his or her peers and the adults in the school and how a student conducts him or herself in various circumstances. Attendance or lack thereof may have subtle but negative consequences. It can impact group work and projects; absences can reveal a lack of caring, commitment, or structure. At Desert, we are aware of the non-measurables, the intangibles. This awareness is embodied in our mission statement, in our dedication to ”personal excellence” and to a culture that “promotes self-confidence and builds character.”

Sincerely,
-Terry

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Desert Academy turns 20! http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/09/desert-academy-turns-20/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/09/desert-academy-turns-20/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 23:57:20 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=8454 Twenty years ago…

…in September of 1994, 34 students stood on the platform of the Guadalupe Street Train Station, waiting for the train to take them to a one-room schoolhouse in Lamy for what would be the first day of school at Desert Academy. Their parents and a few visionary educators and community members had come together to bring a new kind of school to life – a school where the leadership and faculty understood that it was their responsibility to ignite a love of learning in each and every student, where individual differences were considered assets rather than liabilities, and where integrity and principled behavior were paramount.

Today, Desert Academy celebrates its twentieth anniversary on a new, beautiful 26-acre campus on the historic Old Santa Fe Trail. We opened school on the 2nd of September with 200 students and anticipate welcoming still more in the spring semester. In the years between 1994 and now, we have become an International Baccalaureate World School, enhancing our curriculum and adopting the IB Learner Profile Traits as ongoing goals for all members of our community. These traits embody our vision for our institution now and for all of our tomorrows – traits like open-mindedness, communication, and risk-taking, to name a few. You’ll be hearing a lot more about these – and all of the other traits – as we move through this academic year.

As we expand our facilities at our new campus, we look back with deep appreciation at all of the people who have contributed so much to bring us to the place where we are now.  Over the years, we have moved our campus three times – from that one-room schoolhouse in Lamy to Sunrise Springs, to our most recent campus on Alire Street in Santa Fe, and now to Old Santa Fe Trail.  As a way of keeping the memories of our history alive, we are naming our buildings after these places.   So, the first building we erected here, originally called the Classroom Building, has become the Lamy Building, and our most recent addition is named the Sunrise Building.  When we are able to complete the build-out of our campus, we will name another of our new buildings for our former home on Alire Street.

Our Board of Trustees envisioned this new campus on Old Santa Fe Trail as the place we would forever reside. So we have big dreams about how to make it the home it should be – and how to bring the facilities here up to the level of educational excellence for which we are known. Through all of the work we will need to do to make those dreams a reality, the soul, the essence of Desert Academy remains steadfast. Our commitment to valuing the individual, building character, promoting self-confidence, and encouraging our students to become compassionate, life-long learners within the context of a tolerant and diverse community is stronger than ever. We thank you for being a part of our extended family and for your continued support, and we hope you will join us for our 20th anniversary celebration picnic at noon on Sunday, October 5th on our new campus.

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Statement of Educational Philosophy http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/02/thoughts-from-the-head-of-school-terry-passalacqua/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/02/thoughts-from-the-head-of-school-terry-passalacqua/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 17:17:45 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7946 I believe in the absolute power of the individual to reach his or her potential as long as love and support are given. All students want to learn, but not all learn. Why? Students are not some passive container that knowledge can be “poured” into their brain. They are active participants in their own learning.

It is an exchange, this teaching and learning thing. It is a collaboration of emotions. One who has the knowledge and the passion to impart that knowledge working with one who lacks the information but deep inside, hungers for knowledge.

It is the duty, no—the sacred obligation—of the teacher to provide the environment where learning can, not only take place, but flourish. In this regard, I believe success breeds motivation. The learner must see little successes along the long, often difficult path to knowledge, or else self-motivation will never develop.

The teacher is the guide, one who “shows the way,” with kindness, empathy and understanding. The burning light is inside the student, not within the teacher. It is our job, as teachers and mentors, to allow that light to burn and shine.

Once the light has been turned on, all things are possible; I’ve seen severely disabled students compete in high-level athletic competition. I’ve seen emotionally disturbed children get a new look at their own possibilities through compassionate teaching.

Some educators talk about “high expectations” without understanding what that really means. It is not the teacher’s published high expectations that cause the student to succeed; it is the “no-limit-expectations” that she has in her own mind “for” the student that matters. It is what she thinks about the student’s potential for learning, not what she lists as “high expectation” tasks.

There is much more to say about educational philosophy, but I know the key, as I said in the first sentence, is love and support.

Terry Passalacqua

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Statement of Educational philosophy http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/02/statement-of-educational-philosophy/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/02/statement-of-educational-philosophy/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 17:12:34 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7944 February 24th, 2014

Statement of Educational Philosophy

I believe in the absolute power of the individual to reach his or her potential as long as love and support are given. All students want to learn, but not all learn. Why? Students are not some passive container that knowledge can be “poured” into their brain. They are active participants in their own learning.

It is an exchange, this teaching and learning thing. It is a collaboration of emotions. One who has the knowledge and the passion to impart that knowledge working with one who lacks the information but deep inside, hungers for knowledge.

It is the duty, no—the sacred obligation—of the teacher to provide the environment where learning can, not only take place, but flourish. In this regard, I believe success breeds motivation. The learner must see little successes along the long, often difficult path to knowledge, or else self-motivation will never develop.

The teacher is the guide, one who “shows the way,” with kindness, empathy and understanding. The burning light is inside the student, not within the teacher. It is our job, as teachers and mentors, to allow that light to burn and shine.

Once the light has been turned on, all things are possible; I’ve seen severely disabled students compete in high-level athletic competition. I’ve seen emotionally disturbed children get a new look at their own possibilities through compassionate teaching.

Some educators talk about “high expectations” without understanding what that really means. It is not the teacher’s published high expectations that cause the student to succeed; it is the “no-limit-expectations” that she has in her own mind “for” the student that matters. It is what she thinks about the student’s potential for learning, not what she lists as “high expectation” tasks.

There is much more to say about educational philosophy, but I know the key, as I said in the first sentence, is love and support.

Terry Passalacqua

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Parent Association Raffle of Wine Country Trip http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/parent-association-raffle-of-wine-country-trip/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/parent-association-raffle-of-wine-country-trip/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 20:02:55 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7884 Parent Association Raffle of Wine Country Trip

Desert Academy’s Parent Association is proud to support the effort to enhance the new campus for the benefit of all students.  By purchasing raffle tickets YOU are part of that effort as well. All proceeds will go to the art/science lab with multiple sinks, in the Sunrise Classroom Building that will be installed later this spring. This building will also include two bathrooms as well as tutoring and MYP offices.

Through the generous gift of a Desert family, we are raffling three nights in a beautiful cabin on the Russian River for a long week-end.  Located in the heart of the California Wine Country, this home has three bedrooms, three baths, spectacular views, and a swimming hole nearby!  This serene and secluded house has lovely gardens and an orchard, and also includes a large hot tub and two outdoor showers.

The package includes airfare for 4 from Albuquerque to Oakland, California, or $1400 toward airfare if Albuquerque isn’t your travel “home.”

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FEBRUARY 13 – 14th Student Led Conferences http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/student-led-conferences-2/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/student-led-conferences-2/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 00:29:09 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7675 This year’s student-led conferences will be on February 13th and 14th. Click the link below to sign up for your time slot. Student-Led Conference Sign Up

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Putting On the Ritz Auction and Gala Sign up http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/putting-on-the-ritz-auction-and-gala-sign-up/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2014/01/putting-on-the-ritz-auction-and-gala-sign-up/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 22:00:56 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7622 Our event is sold out! If you would like to be on the wait list, please send an email to Kay Rice at krice@desertacademy.org”

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The Deserter, Summer 2013 http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/the-deserter-summer-2013/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/the-deserter-summer-2013/#comments Sat, 21 Dec 2013 00:04:23 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=7406 Literary and Visual Arts Review
Summer 2013
Issue 11
Click here to read magazine

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Book Fair http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/book-fair/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/book-fair/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 16:32:48 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=6920 Desert Academy book fair will be held on December 6th from 3:30 to 6:30pm – 15% of all sales made during that time will be donated to Desert Academy. From babies to 11th graders, the Bee Hive has it all. Come do your holiday shopping while supporting your school and enjoying a lovely store!

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A Fundraising Event for our International Trips http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/a-fundraising-event-for-our-international-trips/ http://www.desertacademy.org/2013/12/a-fundraising-event-for-our-international-trips/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 16:32:23 +0000 http://www.desertacademy.org/?p=6918 Come to Desert Academy’s Annual Francophone Evening, Friday, December 13, 2013, at 6:00 pm for “Noel en Provence,” discover the tradition of the 13 desserts and join us in French song.

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