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Whereas it is the desire of every student, teacher, parent/guardian and administrator that students succeed not only academically, but also with regard to their character development; and whereas it the desire of every stakeholder that a school environment be positive in posture and tone, the following elements will be purposefully and consistently cultivated at Apex Community School:
Clear Behavioral Expectations
Clear behavioral expectations will be made overwhelmingly known to all staff, students and parents/guardians regarding the daily routines in every facet of school life. One simple yet effective way to prevent negative behavior is by giving attention to defining, explicitly teaching and modeling the behaviors that are expected. “Many social and academic skills [that] teachers expect students to display must be actively taught.” Rooted in and reflective of the values that make up the Character Education curriculum, these behavioral expectations must clearly outline what each value “looks like” in the various circumstances in which students find themselves on a given day. In this way, students will know what is clearly and unambiguously expected of them (the goals) and, more importantly how to achieve them. This in turn minimizes frustration and ultimately negative behavior since the goal is clear, attainable and places the choice for “success” squarely with each individual student.
Proactive and Purposeful Affirmations
Proactive and purposeful affirmations will be given when students are observed embodying and living out the various values being explicitly taught in the classroom and those values will be regularly highlighted throughout the school. This is a conscious cultivation of a collective posture where the full staff seeks to embody a “predisposed awareness” to the positive behavior in students. Author Jane Bluestein speaks to this perspective as “Win-Win Thinking,” stating that such a perspective “…requires that we break the habit of catching kids being wrong – that we instead see their mistakes or failings as opportunities to build responsibility and to teach the positive behaviors we desire.” In a sense, the habit should become one of “catching students” being right; carrying themselves correctly and then immediately affirming and reinforcing it when observed. This posture acknowledges the reality of peer pressure and actively leverages it for positive results versus negative. In order for such affirmations to be purposeful and effective, they must be succinct, specific to the individual and genuine.
Clear consequences that are explained and made known to individuals beforehand actually extends the dignity of choice to students and parents/guardians and initiates the arduous journey of cultivating a sense of ownership for one’s actions and decisions. Extenuating circumstances acknowledged, if a student and parent/guardian know what is clearly expected of the student and that which will occur should the student choose to not meet those expectations, there is little justifiable frustration directed at the teacher, administration or school. In fact the only justifiable frustration can be directed at one’s own self when clearly defined consequences occur.