About Nathan Hale High School
The Nathan Hale High School curriculum offers students a balanced educational experience focusing upon developing critical thinking and communication skills so that our students become members of a responsible, democratic citizenry.
Our school is nationally recognized as a leader in school reform efforts that result in providing a rigorous and relevant education for our young adults that is intentional, integrated, and collaborative in nature.
Students will graduate with the greatest number of opportunities open to them. Honors, Advanced Placement, and modified transcript designations are awarded for work in our full-inclusion classrooms and are available across the curriculum.
Our Mission, Values, Principles
The purpose of Nathan Hale High School is to ensure that ALL students will become honorable, thinking, skillful, global citizens.
- We expect that teaching is the essential act of all adults at school
- We promote a climate of respect, trust and decency
- We expect all members to understand, model and promote social justice
- We believe that all students – wherever they are as learners will meet high standards
- We value in-depth study, critical thinking, creativity, and reflection…we believe our students learn by doing
- We empower our students and our families in the learning process
- We value a personal caring relationship with each student
- We commit ourselves to those students who historically have not been successful
- We expect that all discipline be firm, fair, positive and consistent
Nathan Hale inspired by Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) principles
Our values are informed by the following 10 principles:
- The school should focus on helping young people learn to use their minds well. Schools should not be comprehensive if such a claim is made at the expense of the school’s central intellectual purpose.
- The school’s goals should be simple: that each student master a limited number of essential skills and areas of knowledge. While these skills and areas will, to varying degrees, reflect the traditional academic disciplines, the program’s design should be shaped by the intellectual and imaginative powers and competencies that the students need, rather than by “subjects” as conventionally defined. The aphorism “less is more” should dominate: curricular decisions should be guided by the aim of thorough student mastery and achievement rather than by an effort to merely cover content.
- The school’s goals should apply to all students, while the means to these goals will vary as those students themselves vary. School practice should be tailor-made to meet the needs of every group or class of students.
- Teaching and learning should be personalized to the maximum feasible extent. Efforts should be directed toward a goal that no teacher have direct responsibility for more than 80 students in the high school and middle school and no more than 20 in the elementary school. To capitalize on this personalization, decisions about the details of the course of study, the use of students’ and teachers’ time and the choice of teaching materials and specific pedagogies must be unreservedly placed in the hands of the principal and staff.
- The governing practical metaphor of the school should be student-as-worker, rather than the more familiar metaphor of teacher-as-deliverer-of-instructional-services. Accordingly, a prominent pedagogy will be coaching, to provoke students to learn how to learn and thus to teach themselves.
- Teaching and learning should be documented and assessed with tools based on student performance of real tasks. Students not yet at appropriate levels of competence should be provided intensive support and resources to assist them quickly to meet those standards. Multiple forms of evidence, ranging from ongoing observation of the learner to completion of specific projects, should be used to better understand the learner’s strengths and needs, and to plan for further assistance. Students should have opportunities to exhibit their expertise before family and community. The diploma should be awarded upon a successful final demonstration of mastery for graduation – an “Exhibition.” As the diploma is award when earned, the school’s program proceeds with no strict age grading and with no system of credits earned by “time spent” in class. The emphasis on the students’ demonstration that they can do important things.
- The tone of the school should explicitly and self-consciously stress values of un-anxious expectation (“I won’t threaten you but I expect much of you”), of trust (until abused) and of decency (the values of fairness, generosity, and tolerance). Incentives appropriate to the school’s particular students and teachers should be emphasized. Parents should be key collaborators and vital members of the school community.
- The principal and teachers should perceive themselves as generalists first (teachers and scholars in general education) and specialists second (experts in but one particular discipline). Staff should expect multiple obligations (teacher- counselor-manager) and a sense of commitment to the entire school.
- Ultimate administrative and budget targets should include, in addition to total student loads per teacher of 80 or fewer pupils on the high school and middle school levels and 20 or fewer on the elementary level substantial time for collective planning by teachers, competitive salaries for staff, and an ultimate per pupil cost not to exceed that at traditional schools by more than 10 percent. To accomplish this, administrative plans may have to show the phased reduction or elimination of some services now provided students in many traditional schools.
- The school should demonstrate non-discriminatory and inclusive policies, practices, and pedagogies. It should model democratic practices that involve all who are directly affected by the school. The school should honor diversity and build on the strength of its communities, deliberately and explicitly challenging all forms of inequity.
Five Habits of Mind
Students at Nathan Hale High School develop critical thinking skills and engage with topics by learning. Students are expected to critically view material retrieved from various sources. They are taught to question:
- Viewpoint – From whose viewpoint are we seeing, reading or hearing? From what angle or perspective?
- Evidence – How do we know what we know? What’s the evidence and how reliable is it?
- Relevance – What does it matter? What does it all mean? So what?
- Connections – How are things, events or people connected to each other? What is the cause? What is the effect? How do they “fit” together?
- Supposition – What if…? Could things be otherwise? What are or were the alternatives?
Dr. William L. Jackson
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