The following are questions routinely asked by parents who are considering enrolling their student in Monument Academy:
- Half-day kindergarten 18 maximum with para support
- Full-day kindergarten 20 maximum with para support
- All other elementary 24 maximum with para support (our paraprofessionals roam between classes)
- Middle school core classes average 24 but tend to be smaller due to more cohorts. The elective classes can be much larger or smaller depending on the course (i.e. band, choir, drama, strings, forensics, speech and more)
I have heard from other parents that Monument Academy works to meet each child where he/she is. Do you believe there is healthy differentiation in the classrooms?
Teachers at Monument Academy engage in regular professional development designed to increase their effectiveness with students. Differentiation occurs in many different ways and will look different from teacher to teacher. Monument Academy is committed to meeting the needs of every student.
Monument Academy employs a full-time fully licensed Gifted and Talented teacher. The role of that individual is to identify and maintain advanced learning plans for our gifted students. The Gifted and Talented teacher supports classroom teachers in creating appropriate educational opportunities for each identified student.
Monument Academy, in coordination with Lewis-Palmer School District, has developed a strong program for our students with special needs. We employ licensed special education teachers, a social worker, a school psychologist, and counselors who each bring value to the education of our students. We are committed to open communication with our families who are our best partners in the education of their students.
Every student takes music, art, Spanish, PE, technology, and library. All of our teachers are experts in their field and most importantly love their students. They align to the Core Knowledge Sequence and we strive to make it cross-curricular which is the best way to learn. We have a strings program for grades 4-8. We currently have band as well for grades 5-8 and choir for 5-8.
Do classes/students ever interact with other classes/students? (e.g., 4th graders reading with 1st graders, etc.)
Yes they do. We have reading buddy opportunities for them. The interactions are planned for leadership and relationship (character) purposes.
Also, in middle school, the NJHS or student council members help with some of the special elementary days.
Does MA value kids learning in order to achieve the same rigorous standards? How about kids learning to think outside the box? How is the joy of learning emphasized or shared at MA?
These are questions that you will have to answer for yourself after observing our amazing staff at work and our students absolutely engaged in the process of learning. Our teachers are pushed to take students to the higher-level of thinking and use the Socratic dialogue and questioning. There is nothing cookie cutter about our school. We LOVE thinking outside of the box and encourage our students to think outside of the box and come up with their own creative solutions.
You will have to witness the joy of learning for yourself. Talking about it and seeing it are two different things.
How are kids with sensory needs helped? Can simple, non-distracting modifications sometimes be made without an IEP? (e.g., letting a fidgety kid get up every once in a while to walk around, shortening a spelling list, taking a time out to cool down if student is getting anxious, etc.)
Certainly we can help students with sensory needs. Again, we are here to reach every child! One nice thing about having one of the best OT’s in the area working at our school is that we have her expertise in the building. We have a motor lab as well. Many times students are allowed to go through the motor lab just to re-fire their brains for learning. We have many sensory tools available to the teachers. There are special pencil grips, squeeze balls, chew things, seat cushions, and bands for chairs, Velcro for bottom of desk, charts, and more. Students can get up if needed and there are other creative coping skills teachers can offer as well. Students all learn differently. An IEP is not necessary to accommodate these needs.
We do discourage this. Sometimes it is a last resort but we ask the teachers to take them outside anyway. Some teachers have them walk outside to get exercise. There is generally a morning, lunch, and afternoon recess. Middle school students get a snack break in the morning and a break outside after lunch.
How much emphasis is placed on homework? Might kids be able to show that they have mastered a concept without a whole lot of drill and kill?
Homework is dependent upon the grade level but as a general average: 10 minutes per grade number 1st = 10. 2nd = 20. This is not counting reading minutes.
Mastery is different for all children. Mastery is all about proper assessment and how follow through is handled after the assessment. Homework at MA is intended to reinforce and practice skills learned in the classroom.
We recognize we are all human and we all make mistakes. While we teach character explicitly, we also work with our students in their day to day experiences to encourage good choices.
How is discipline enforced and emphasized? Are strong-willed kids and those who struggle more with self-control helped with learning how to channel their personalities/energy in positive ways? Or is the main focus practicing obedience until they get it right?
Each student is a unique individual with unique personal, social, and educational needs. As a result, every disciplinary situation is unique in nature.
Consequences for misbehavior provide the best learning value when matched to the unique student and the unique situation. The odds for children learning from their mistakes increase dramatically when children set a reasonable connection between their behavior and the resulting consequences.
Monument Academy staff dedicates itself to following a set of core beliefs that provide a guide for dealing with student discipline. These core beliefs guide our attempts to individualize disciplinary procedures and to help students see reasonable connections between their behavior and the resulting consequences.
Since these core beliefs provide the guiding light for our professional decisions, the staff encourages parents to bring concerns and questions to us in the event that we operate in ways that appear to be inconsistent with these core beliefs.
Monument Academy Staff Core Beliefs
- We believe that every attempt should be made to maintain the dignity of both the adult and the student.
- We believe that students should be guided and expected to solve the problems they create without making problems for anyone else.
- We believe that students should be given the opportunity to make decisions and live with the results, whether the consequences are good or bad.
- We believe that students should have the opportunity to tell their side of the story (due process hearing) when consequences appear to be unfair.
- We believe that there should be a logical connection between misbehavior and resulting consequences.
MA is a classical education school, correct? What does that mean at MA? Are textbooks the norm, or are classical literature pieces (documents, poems, speeches, writings, books) often used in teaching?
MA is a traditional education for modern times. What Monument Academy does is counter-intuitive. Rooting ourselves firmly in the learning of the past we prepare ourselves for the future. In a world that constantly chatters about the speed of information, we slow down to read long books carefully, to open our minds to stories that take a good while to tell, to labor over problems that a modern calculator could solve in a microsecond, to love things of permanent and transcendent beauty, and, when necessary, to reinvent the wheel. We are not antiquarians and do not consider ourselves quaint. We are preparing students for a future that we cannot yet imagine. Encouraging the love of learning sets students up for a successful future.
Will your teachers continue to teach (as long as it's in their control) classical literature, despite the Common Core push to use primarily informational text?
Classical literature is desperately important for children to read and understand. There is also a place for informational text in the sciences, history, math, and other. We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water. We must guard our primary sources and make certain we trust the sources from which they are coming.
Their children love learning and their partnership is valued.
The student-teacher relationship is essential to learning. Our students know that their teachers care for them.
We welcome volunteers in our classrooms. We apologize upfront that our security procedures may seem cumbersome. Our check-in procedures are for the safety of everyone in the building.
Parents and teachers must be partners in children’s education for maximum results.
The MA Board of Directors is charged with the governance of the school. They encourage the school administrators to direct the day to day activities. Teachers have a representative to the board for each level of the school. The relationships are strong because all parties recognize that our mission is to serve our students.
You may look on the website and view their resolution stating their stand opposed to the CCSS. It was stated in November 2013.
It is. We use the Core Knowledge phonics program.
Core Knowledge phonics is based on the 270 phonemes as the others are as well but, it goes with the Core Knowledge reading program and has leveled some of the classics for kindergarten – second grade as well as integrated so much of the content tied into the phonics. The reading instruction integrates teaching to all modalities which makes reading more enjoyable for all readers.
Our philosophy is outlined on our website. It is part of our traditional model of education. Prior to the 1940’s that is the only method for teaching penmanship. Progressive education in America brought many negative changes to our system and one of them was manuscript writing. Our brain must learn how to read and write. Speaking is an acquired skill. The skills of reading and writing happen in different lobes of the brain. They were never meant to be combined. Once a child’s fine motor skills are well developed, they will be able to write any way they desire–even print if they want. The developmental mode should be cursive until that skill is fully developed for many reasons stated in the philosophy. There are other articles cited in the philosophy. (As with any philosophy, there are differing views on this. We hold strong to our viewpoint and find great success.) The top-performing schools in our state are cursive-first elementary schools.
What does instruction look like- more lecture, teacher-led, group projects, hands-on activities? A mix of it all?
It is a good mix of it all. When one walks by a class, one should expect to see students engaged. This could take on many forms. If a teacher is lecturing, students can still be engaged.
A hearty “YES” to your question. We love kids and take advantage of their curious nature and build on it to teach them.
For the latest update on the Monument Academy High School (MAHS) click: MAHS Update
Monument Academy is committed to strong teaching and retaining excellent teachers. Our teacher turnover averages between 15-17% and is consistent from year to year. In comparison to the national charter school average of 25%, Monument Academy clearly is doing something right to retain high quality staff.
Is there anything else that you believe makes Monument Academy stand out from other schools, including other classical charter or private schools?
We have cohesive leadership with singular vision. Our staff, including all administrators, is highly competent and dedicated to their craft.
We value positive relationships, partnerships with families, and seeing kids grow into their full potential.