On behalf of the faculty, staff and administration I welcome you and your child to Somerset Academy Wilton Manors. Your child is entering a specially prepared environment that is warm, secure, and challenging; a place in which to grow socially, physically, and creatively. This will be a great year at Somerset Academy Village at Wilton Manors. Our staff is outstanding and as a “family” unit parents and teachers will work together to provide a wonderful education for our terrific students.
We know that children learn in different ways and at different rates, so we provide experiences that take these differences into consideration. We encourage a love of learning and of self. Young children question the obvious and see mystery in the commonplace. We know that remarks of children have meaning and reveal modes of reasoning and judgment based upon their developmental abilities. Our classrooms are places for thinking activities and the emphasis is on the child as “thinker-in-action” where he or she is encouraged to be an active participant in the learning process. We guide the students to seek out, select and deal with objects and happenings in our exciting school environment.
Philosophy of Somerset Academy Elementary Charter School
The word philosophy is a very grown up word. It has to do with what we believe, and how those beliefs influence what we do and how we act. All of us at Somerset Wilton Manors work so well together because we share the same philosophy, the same beliefs, about what our school should be like.
• We believe that teaching and learning is very serious business, but it should be exciting and fun.
• We believe that along with reading, writing, and mathematics you should learn many other things, such as art, science, and social sciences.
• We feel that you should begin to learn about yourself as a person about how terrific and special you are, and can be.
• We believe you must learn to get along with people of all ages and all backgrounds; you must learn to respect others and to earn the respect of others.
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are non-profit, self-managed public schools (serving students in grades K- 12). Although they must be approved and monitored by the local school board, they are run independently – like private schools except that you do not have to pay tuition! Charter schools are funded by state and local monies and are open to any student.
Somerset Academy Village at Wilton Manors is dedicated to the development of the whole child, providing a solid foundation that stimulates creative thinking, wonder, and a lifelong passion for learning.
6• We believe that children can learn better when they are grouped with children of different levels because there is more opportunity to progress at their own individual pace. Students in Somerset’s elementary grades learn in multi-level classrooms and a 4-year degreed certified teacher in each elementary class. Teachers are trained to teach children in small groups allowing more individualized instruction.
• We believe that each child comes with a unique learning style. Therefore, the academic design for each student at Somerset Academy is based on his/her own unique style.
• We believe that all children live up – or down – to the expectations set for them. Thus, the Somerset Academy will set high academic and behavioral expectations for all of its students.
• We believe that learning can, and should, be fun. Therefore, we will create an environment of joyful learning. Students will be exposed to an array of activities that they would not otherwise have in a traditional school setting. This is not to suggest that learning is entertainment. Sometimes it is hard work; but hard work can be fun if it is approached with a joyful attitude.
• We believe that students learn best when their parents are actively involved in the school community. Therefore, parents must agree to become actively involved in Somerset Academy, providing both transportation to and from school, lunch and completing 30 volunteer hours per family per school year. A parental involvement obligation is established to ensure, where possible, that a parent will actively participate in his/her student’s education. That will be the only “tuition” a parent pays, and we believe it is an important element to ensure parental “investment” in their student’s education.
• We believe that character development is an important element in the development of the student into a productive member of society. Somerset will encourage its students to become involved in the community through community service programs and volunteerism. This is the student counterpart to the parental involvement obligation. Students will be encouraged to “invest” volunteer time in service to their school and/or community.
• We believe that students learn best when they are encouraged to succeed. Therefore, Somerset’s staff will mentor students thereby increasing self-esteem. Many students have experienced failure in the classroom, and as a result have poor self-images as learners. Because of prior experiences, they resist the educational process through inappropriate behavior. Therefore, we will build in mechanisms to ensure the improvement of the students’ self-images as learners; concurrently, we will build in behavior management techniques to ensure improvement of behavior.
• We believe creative endeavors are an integral part of the growth and development of all students. Through our partnerships with local colleges and universities, we will be able to incorporate, as well as develop, avenues of creativity into the curriculum at all grade levels.
• We believe that high expectations engender success. Both students and teachers live either up or down to expectations set for them. This includes both academic and behavioral expectations. “Students do best – intellectually, personally, morally – when they are striving for excellence.” (Damon). Therefore, we will set high academic standards and behavioral expectations for students; we will set high academic/teaching standards and behavior expectations for teachers.
• We believe that students who understand how they learn do best in school (Wang, Haertel, & Wahlberg) Those students plan their learning, monitor it, and re-plan when necessary.
• We believe success breeds success. Therefore, students will be given opportunities to succeed. We believe that students have more opportunities to succeed when they can progress on a continuum. “…(I)n the best educational environment available, each student proceeds at speeds and depths of thinking that are appropriate and generate success for that student.” (Hunter)
• We believe that students and teachers are responsible for their actions. Therefore, we will hold students accountable for their actions (see section on behavior management); we will hold teachers accountable for their actions (see section on personnel policies and practices).
• We believe that students learn best in small schools. “Large schools neither nourish the spirit nor educate the mind.” (Meier). Somerset Academy is a small size for a public elementary school, and therefore, lends itself to individualized attention to students needs.