Revisiting our Mission: Journeys School Faculty Retreat
For the 21st time since the founding of Journeys School, the faculty spent two days at the Kelly Campus of Teton Sceince Schools in retreat. The purpose of these retreats is to reflect on both the mission and philosophy of the school as well as to reconnect with peers outside of the daily work environment. Our retreat this year accomplished both goals.
Three focal points determined the course of the two days. First, the faculty and staff dissected the final strategic plan approved by the board this past summer. Recommendations were made for action steps on each objective to ensure that we carefully work through all of the strategic goals. The main goals of the plan revolve around excellence, recruitment and retention, culture, innovation, place, and global perspective.
Second, every year we discuss an article or reading that challenges our notions of education and how we do school. This year, an article by Alfie Kohn was selected that evaluated the notion of progressive education. The article (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm) appeared in Independent School magazine two years ago and provided the author's definition of progressive education and why it is so rare, yet so important. The faculty discussed each point, not as good or bad, but just as a reflection on what we do at school and why. We concluded that characteristics such as active learning, deep understanding, whole child approach, social justice, collaboration, community, intrinsic motivation and taking kids seriously all are deeply embedded in the Journeys School philosophy. Excellent discussion revolved around the extent to which some of these concepts are or are not present at Journeys School.
Finally, we spent the entire second day mapping our Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum using Rubicon-Atlas software (http://www.rubicon.com/AtlasCurriculumMapping.php). This system, funded by the generous donors to the Curriculum Project, allows the school to see a comprehensive view of the entire curriculum. Faculty collaborated, discussed, and integrated curriculum for the whole day. The experience was powerful in that we were able to see the amazing work that has been created over the last decade and the potential of this system to make our curriculum even better. Equally important to the major discussion items were the shared meals, hikes, and conversations that strengthened our community. As we move into school preparation, the retreat reconnected and energized the faculty and staff. It will be an incredible year.
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