Academics » Academic Philosophy

Academic Philosophy

HOW BEACON STUDENTS THINK

Aristotle writes about the importance of habituating virtue in order to lead a good life. In much the same way, Beacon students build habits of learning that will serve them far beyond their high school or even college experience. At our core, Beacon Academy strives to help our students to develop the aptitude and passion to learn actively throughout their lives so that they can adjust in an ever-changing future, become leaders in their chosen professional field, and, most importantly, live with purpose.

Our program asks students to embrace the complexity of the world while remaining fully themselves. The intellectual, social, and emotional foundation that they form in adolescence will help them to navigate the inevitable challenges they will face in their pursuit of a meaningful life.
 

 

 


HOW BEACON STUDENTS LEARN
 
Beacon teachers create an optimal learning environment by providing the time and space for exploration and discovery. We focus on the student’s mastery of the material, not whether or not they have memorized a concept or idea. Our teachers don’t simply lecture to our students. They engage them in the subject matter and then provide ample time for the students to actively, not passively, participate in the learning experience. Beacon students are expected to independently follow their interest and then present to their classmates and teacher what they have learned. This presentation can be oral, written, video, or some other medium, depending on the material. We intentionally give our students the space to learn about their specific interests while providing guidance and support to ensure that they stay on task and master the content.

 

LEARNING COHORTS

Beacon operates academically in two-year cohorts following Montessori’s educational model. Ninth and tenth graders are grouped together as are eleventh and twelfth graders. Note that all courses except for math and foreign language rotate on two-year loops.

 

ASSESSMENT

At Beacon, we think it is important that students receive consistent feedback in order for them to better understand the areas in which they are finding success as well as places where they can improve. A hallmark of Montessori education is that teachers are constantly observing, assessing and communicating with students on a daily basis so are able to guide and support them. Mastery of the skills and material is the emphasis. With this philosophy in mind, Beacon students are formally assessed at the close of each term with a grade and an extensive personal comment from the teacher that addresses the specifics of the student’s performance and level of mastery in a given course. At the midpoint of each term students are issued a midterm report in order to help them monitor their own progress. Additionally, twice per year we hold student-led parent/teacher conferences.

 

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE (IB)

Beacon Academy is committed to academic excellence. In addition to foundational and elective coursework, Beacon Academy offers the rigorous and well-regarded International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in the 11th and 12th grades. The IB Programme and Montessori share a global perspective with a social focus and encourage students to think critically while synthesizing knowledge from multiple disciplines.

Students who pursue the Diploma take a two-year course sequence of classes in the following areas: Studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies (including history, economics, and philosophy) Sciences, Mathematics, and The Arts. Additionally, they will participate in the three core requirements: the Extended Essay, the Theory of Knowledge course, and the Creativity, Action, Service program.

 

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

  • 4 credits in English
  • 3 credits in history, including at least 1 year of United States History
  • 2 credits in the same foreign language
  • 3 credits in mathematics
  • 3 credits in science
  • 2 credits in fine and/or performing arts
 

By graduation, all students will have:

  • Given multiple presentations and performances to the community.
  • Written a business plan and attempted an entrepreneurial venture in either an individual or collaborative manner.
  • Completed an independent study research paper on a topic of their choice.
  • Engaged in 8 interim terms, some of their own design.
  • Addressed the following two questions in their coursework:
    • What does it mean to live a good and meaningful life?
    • How do we know what we know?
 
FACULTY ADVISORS & ASSESSMENT THE ARTS TECHNOLOGY COLLEGE COUNSELING
The advisory program is an integral component of Beacon Academy. The student-advisor relationship is the bedrock of our student experience. The arts curriculum is intended not only to facilitate artistic expression but also to allow students the freedom for personal expression. All students participate in the arts. Classroom technology includes interactive digital projectors and a mobile cart with a flat screen TV which can be moved around the building as needed by students and faculty. Every student at Beacon Academy receives personal and thoughtful college counseling that takes into account that student’s unique interests, abilities, and family needs.