Saturday, September 29, 2018

Campus Aesthetics

As a community that pursues the Beautiful, we believe that our campus aesthetics matter.  That's why we have hung beautiful artwork from the Western Tradition in our hallways and classrooms.  That's why we are developing the community garden in our Courtyard.  That's why we feature excellent student work on display boards around the campus.  These may seem like small details, but taken together they create an atmosphere of order and purpose for our whole Academy.

Looking forward, our faculty and staff are turning our attention to the issue of litter and debris in our communal spaces such as our hallways, courtyard, and multi-purpose room.  Our goal is to instill a sense of responsibility and order in our students and to foster a student culture of cleanliness and attention to detail.  The campus belongs to everyone in our community, and so we all must take care of it.  This does not mean that we expect our campus to be perfectly pristine.  The work of cultivating adolescent hearts and minds is inherently messy, so we expect some amount of flotsam and jetsam around the campus.  But we also believe that there is an analogical relationship between that which is material and that which is moral or intellectual.  Properly ordering the one helps our students to order the other.   

As a first step, we have begun emptying the "Lost and Found" cart at the entrance to the academic building on a weekly basis.  This was done last week after several notifications to students that it had become a pungent eyesore.  The uniform items, lunch boxes, and water bottles that were collected will be available for purchase through the PSO at the next resale.

We will turn our attention to the common spaces on our campus next week, and we will likewise give our students the opportunity to keep the campus neat and tidy on their own.  If it becomes clear that the students need our help, then our faculty and staff are also happy to provide solutions of our own.  Please join us in talking with your students about cleanliness and attention to detail, especially this coming week.  Together, we can pursue the Beautiful on our campus.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Teacher Feature: Ms. Lentz

Ms. Lentz is a veteran teacher with seven years’ experience in both public and private school settings. While a seventh-grade math teacher in New Orleans public schools, Ms. Lentz served as Math Department Chair at O. Perry Walker Middle School and Eleanor McMain Secondary School. She later designed and implemented a rigorous pre-algebra curriculum for grades 5-7 at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana. While at St. Martin’s she won the J. Gordon and Lou Ann Reishe Outstanding Teacher Award. We are honored to welcome Ms. Lentz to our faculty of outstanding teachers.  Ms. Lentz teaches seventh-grade Pre-Algebra at our Academy.
Our students prepared a few questions for Ms. Lentz:
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why?
I became a teacher immediately after graduating from Tulane and completing my certification. I had volunteered with New Orleans youth throughout college, and teaching seemed like a great way to serve both the students and the city that I loved. Over the next several years I continued to teach middle school math, only stepping away when my eldest daughter was born. Now that my children are older, I’m thrilled to return to the classroom.
How did you deal with stress when you were in school?
Looking back, I’m not sure I dealt with stress particularly well when I was in school. When I was a student I kept myself incredibly busy, and I remember lots of late nights and often feeling overwhelmed. I danced with a youth ballet company and had classes or rehearsals every day and on weekends. I was also very involved at school with student organizations and service projects, and the time I spent with friends during those activities was probably how I found most of my stress relief.
How do you best connect with students?

I enjoy connecting with students through conversation. Learning about their interests and backgrounds helps me to understand more about them as a student, and as a person. The North Phoenix Prep and Archway community affords us many opportunities to interact outside of the classroom, and I appreciate the time I get to spend with students and their families.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Headmaster Letter

Dear North Phoenix Prep Families,
This week's letter addresses the topic of the Human Dignity and Freedom, one of the central things that we deeply love as an Academy.

  • The Virtues: Moral, Intellectual, and Athletic Excellence
  • The Western Tradition
  • Human Dignity and Freedom
  • Philosophical Realism
  • Conversation and Community
  • Humility

Our Academy believes in human dignity and freedom.  These attributes extend to all human persons, which means that they are not exclusive to the best and brightest, nor to those who happen to possess wealth or power.  We believe that each human person deserves respect as a moral and intellectual agent capable of making independent decisions.  Human dignity also means that we are more than our economic or social functions, more than a means to an end, and more than mere material objects.  In short, we are ensouled beings who are capable of striving toward the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.   

We also believe in human freedom or liberty.  The popular culture often construes freedom as the absence of external restraints. On this view, being "free" merely means the ability to do whatever we please.  But this view of freedom lacks any dimension of moral responsibility.  In contrast, our Academy believes as an axiom that we ought to pursue some things and that we ought not to pursue others.  We, therefore, view freedom primarily as the freedom to pursue Truth, Goodness, and Beauty together--because these are the things that it will truly please our students to do.

With Devotion,
Headmaster Weinhold

State Assessments

Dear North Phoenix Prep Families,

At the end of last year, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) offered all Arizona high schools the option of replacing the AzMERIT test. On reviewing the ADE menu of assessments, I along with the other Great Hearts headmasters selected the SAT as the assessment that our high school students will take in place of the AzMERIT test. This is great news for our high school students and their teachers because it will significantly reduce the amount of time that they will have to devote to standardized testing.

Here is further information about what this change will mean for our Academy’s high school students:
  1. Beginning this year, our 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students will no longer take the AzMERIT English Language Arts and Math end-of-course assessments.
  2. Beginning this year, our 11th-grade students will take the SAT test at school during a regular school day. Our SAT administration day is March 27th. 
  3. Our 9th-grade students will still take the Science AIMS test. The SAT only replaces ELA and Math AzMERIT.
  4. Parents of students who have an IEP or 504 plan should discuss the assessment plan for their student with Ms. Alison Stone.
  5. Students in 7th and 8th grade will take the AzMERIT exam in ELA and Math.

We are very happy that ADE has provided this option, as we feel confident that it will greatly benefit our high school students, not only reducing testing time but also providing an assessment that students can use for other purposes, including college admissions. If you have further questions, I will be happy to discuss this transition at the upcoming headmaster coffee this Wednesday, and I invite you to join me for that conversation.

With Devotion,
Headmaster Weinhold