Building Citizenship and Community at Park Academy
Park Academy Mission:
Park Academy empowers students with diverse learning challenges to reach their highest potential of giftedness while excelling academically and becoming responsible citizens and community leaders.
This week 90 bright-eyed, slightly nervous students, walked through the Park Academy doors to begin a new school year. They breathe life into the school and provide purpose for the meaningful work we do as educators. Each and every day Parents put immense trust in us to care for their children, keep them safe, and make sure they have every opportunity they deserve. We take this responsibility very seriously. This year we have chosen to emphasize the values of citizenship and community as a way to ground ourselves in the work we are doing as educators and to help the students reach their highest potentials. Reading, writing, mathematics and other areas of curricular focus are cornerstones of the American Education System. I would argue that now, more than ever, if we are not delivering this core content through a process grounded in citizenship and community we are failing our students and our society.
In order to embrace this philosophy, we are focusing on creating a culture and community through an understanding of our rights and responsibilities as citizens and community members of Park Academy and our broader society. Here are just a few ways that we can already see a culture grounded in these values in action.
- Rather than learn the “rules” that students must abide by, students were taught that they have both the right and responsibility to Participate in their education, to be provided opportunities to Achieve their highest potentials, to be Responsible for themselves and hold others responsible to the community and to be Kind and receive kindness in return.
- Barnes’s middle school class took time to talk about the devastating impact of the Eagle Creek fire and to write thank you letters to the front-line responders who are putting their lives on the line to support our community.
- Bond led the high school Leadership class in an examination of what leadership looks like in the face of crisis using the Eagle Creek fire to talk about leadership from the front line to the national level.
- The school has started a partnership with the Lake Oswego Watershed Council to help remove invasive species from our neighboring watershed and science classes will work to grow and plant native species in their place.
- Nemer is helping students recognize their impact in the school and on their own learning through recognition of citizenship in action, highlighting acts of citizenship made by students throughout the week.
These are just a few very specific examples of how we are living these values. A comprehensive list would be long and continuously evolving. It is our mission that you can see these values in every class every day.
We live in a globalized society. Communication is instantaneous and information is always at our fingertips. Although it seems that it should be easier than ever to be an active citizen and community member, we have also become numb to many of the daily realities of the world. In order to inspire students to action, we must educate them on what this means and how the world operates. We have the opportunity to help them feel a part of something bigger than themselves in a positive way. Despite war, natural disasters, and political strife, humanity has an incredible capacity for love and compassion. We have the opportunity and responsibility to teach our students what it means to help create and participate in our wonderful Park Academy community while also being a global citizen of the world.
– Craig Lowery, Head of School