Mission and Vision
Terra Academy focuses on each student as a “unique” whole person in a global society by providing individualized instruction in a community learning model through educational experiences including a broad range of curricular options and project-based learning opportunities that nourish individual talents, skills, and desires.
The vision of Terra Academy is to help students become lifelong independent learners, productive members of society possessing respect for other people and cultures, who are stewards of our environment.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
This charter was created out of the need for something new and different stemming from the belief that all children have something inside of them that is special to share with the world. As educators, we want to collaborate with children as individuals to develop and reach their full potential. Not unlike genes, turning on by environmental triggers, a child’s brilliance can also be developed by their environment. However, we are not saying every child will be an Albert Einstein; why would we want numerous Albert Einstein’s running around? A wise grandmother once said, “Wouldn’t life be dull if we were all cut from the same cookie cutter?” It is time we stop trying to fit all people into the same mold. Every student has different desires and passions. In addition to academics, we need to encourage their dreams, foster their development and FACILITATE their learning by providing an environment that will fuel those passions and dreams. That is what this charter strives for.
The founders of Terra feel that we should simplify, look at the big picture and start with the most basic and important element of the school…“the child”. The children are the reason we do this, after all. The most basic component of the school should be addressing the “whole child”. Too many times we leave out the human factor and forget that the reason a child struggles may have less to do with school but more from lack of basic necessities. We must account for all aspects making up the child and the environment they come from before we can address what he or she needs from school and its educators. To do this, the charter curriculum will address health, wellness and character development. Furthermore, we will initiate a mentor program to help students create and sustain solid relationships with others.
The next focus is that every child is a unique individual and that should be celebrated. The curriculum offerings will do that with unique “Individualized Learning Maps” (ILM) for each child. This map will be as unique as the talents, intelligence and strengths each child brings to his/her educational experience. Embracing those differences and what those differences offer the world is the ultimate goal.
This leads to the third item addressed in the charter which is to teach students to identify their strengths and to become independent, self-motivated learners. This will be accomplished through project-based learning, hypothesis inquiry, blended learning and peer group models. In addition, a cumulative “long term” portfolio will be created for each student which represents the best evidence of their hard work evolving over time, and shows growth and accomplishments.
Education can be a rewarding experience or it can be a tireless job. We aim for the former by treating each child with the respect they deserve, as an individual, who will impact our world of tomorrow from what we help them become today. It takes a village to raise a child and Terra Academy will strive to be a key component of that village.
Student numbers: 650 total, 50 students in each grade k-12
Curricular Methodology: Project based learning, individualized educational plans for each child, mentoring, real world applications, hypothesis/project- based learning, blended learning and peer group instructional models, entrepreneur studies/internships, outdoor classrooms (edible schoolyard), community service, sustainability and stewardship models.With these models students will keep a cumulative portfolio which represents the best of their hard work and shows their growth over time. Terra Academy will strive to instill in students the fact that their time is worthwhile and everything they do is important in some way; every mistake can be turned into a learning experience. The cumulative portfolio will grow and evolve over time, displaying the tremendous individual growth and the various talents each student possesses. Students can be proud of the work in their portfolios.
Learning Environment: Daylighting : Daylighting in Schools” by the energy efficiency consulting firm Heschong Mahone Group, examined 21,000 students in three elementary school districts in California, Washington, and Colorado and found that students in classrooms with abundant daylight had up to 25 percent higher learning rates and test scores in reading and math than their peers in rooms with less natural light.
Furnishings: Preferred paints and furnishings will be made of low-volatile organic compounds (VCO), and carpets should be made of non-VCO materials as they impact air quality. Asthma is the primary cause of poor school attendance and schools with poor indoor air quality usually have numerous asthma precursors. By using the materials described above in the building process the school hopes to decrease the number of sick days due to asthma and other respiratory disorders.
Mobile and flexible learning environment: Furniture, rooms and study areas will be mobile, flexible, comfortable and easily made to configure to the task at hand. Highly efficient learning areas will be created for students that will cater to their immediate learning needs.
Energy conservation: The school will incorporate the use of high efficiency HVAC systems, lighting, and energy saving accessories, such as motion detecting light switches and faucets. In consultation with the design team the school will determine if things like geothermal and solar power are options for the school. While the initial cost of building may be higher than usual school construction costs, Terra Academy recognizes the value associated with healthier children and the substantial costs in energy savings in the long term.
Landscape Design: Another aspect surrounding the facility will be the landscape design, which will include an edible school yard and utilize low maintenance native plants. Outdoor classrooms will also be an extensive aspect and included in the design.