Academics

Academics

FlexSchool_academics-quote

Academics

Our goal is to teach students how to support arguments, research with abandon, communicate ideas clearly, evaluate information, and connect themes among subjects. We provide a liberal arts education to middle and high school students who are interested in small, discussion-based and collaborative classes. The depth of analysis and intensity of debate keep discussions lively. Thinking differently is celebrated!
Our gifted and twice exceptional students are free to soar in the subjects that come easily, and supported in the subjects that are more challenging. All classes are taught by subject experts, trained by learning specialists, and formed around ability rather than age. We make sure that each teacher makes students feel safe, intellectually and emotionally; students who feel safe can take the risks and face the frustration necessary to learn. While we encourage students to learn in small classes, we have learning specialists and private instructors available for students who struggle in a particular subject.

We have high standards without rigid busywork. Homework is relevant and minimized to give students time to pursue interests, volunteer, play sports, make art, and work in the community. Most students can get their homework (except reading) done during the proctored study hall each day. Some students choose to stay after school to complete any remaining homework so they don’t have homework at home. As one student said, “There are no stupid worksheets at FlexSchool.” In addition, all students are free to choose any topic and any form of output for the community engagement project; students learn how to advocate for themselves, seek mentors, and plan successful long-term projects.

Experiential learning supports the academic knowledge gained Monday–Thursday. On FlexFridays many teachers come for the lectures and join students on field trips because in our school community we all love to learn and explore. Last year’s events included: Holocaust speakers, hike with a naturalist, trip to Comic Con in NYC (very popular!), mindfulness training, author discussions, trip to the virology lab at Columbia University, improvisation with a NYC playwright, and financial literacy projects. Every year we travel to the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Vermont for a week of environmental science, survival skills, group activities, and rock climbing/ropes courses.

We have deliberately chosen locations in the center of town and near universities because a community can provide resources and opportunities that an individual school cannot match. For example, an international student in New Jersey took singing lessons from a Broadway professional, performed in an operetta, and learned to draw and paint in an artist’s studio. Our school isn’t an isolated building but rather another welcoming space within the larger community.

Gifted Students

The common denominator at FlexSchool is that our students are gifted, according to The Columbus definition. Some students do not have learning challenges and have consciously chosen to learn in a small and supportive academically rigorous environment with like-minded peers because they thrive in a more flexible setting than a more rigid, high-pressured school.

Learning Support for 2e Students

Twice exceptional students can be cognitively and emotionally complicated. Intellectual power is often undermined, but not diminished, by learning challenges. As an example, a student who has trouble with writing can excel during classroom discussions because speaking and writing are two different processes. All of our classes are ability-based rather than age-based, so students are with intellectual peers, with support where necessary. Block scheduling means that time is not looming over learning and experiments are not cut short. We do not lower our academic expectations – teachers are subject experts – and our students are college-bound; instead, we add individualized learning support and explicitly teach executive function skills.

Our small classes and trained faculty make individualized instruction and support possible; learning specialists advise teachers and administrators on any accommodations that should be added or suspended. In addition, students learn to understand their challenges and advocate for themselves.

Our advisors train staff and work with Jacqui Byrne and Heidi Molbak, who respectively serve as heads of school in Fanwood, NJ and New Haven, CT.

Stephen H. Chou, Psy.D. advises the FlexSchool team on new 2e research and evaluates psychological evaluations. He is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Summit Center and at his private practice in Burlingame, CA. In addition, Dr. Chou leads Summit Center’s doctoral training program, and is an adjunct professor with the University of Denver. Dr. Chou is a past board member of Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted (SENG). He has specialties in Family/Child and Multicultural/Community counseling and psychological assessment, especially within the field of giftedness that was developed at his private practice and in conjunction with The Nueva School. For more information about Steven, please see leadership team page.

Emotional Support

Some FlexSchool students may have suffered from anxiety and depression in former academic settings. Many find that symptoms decrease in a challenging yet supportive and safe academic environment. We are not an appropriate setting for students with behavioral issues who need a team trained to support their needs.

Course Catalog for 2016-2017

FlexSchool has the ability to offer over 100 different courses in core subject areas, electives, as well as custom-designed classes. We hire educators who not only meet our students where they are academically and emotionally but they are also content experts in their fields. Through our innovative use of technology, we are able to offer any of our courses in-person or through our live online learning program. All courses not currently being offered in a group setting are available privately. For full course descriptions, please contact us.

While upper level high school courses are taught at the AP level and students are prepared for the exam, we have chosen to write our own curricula rather than following those designated by the College Board.

A sample of the many courses FlexSchool is currently offering:

  • Art: Acting, Film, Art History, Music, Music History, Playwriting, Technical Theater, Sound Design
  • Computer Science: Intro. to Java, Intro. to Python, Advanced Java, Advanced Python
  • Debate
  • English: I-IV, Expository and Creative Writing, Survey of Famous Plays, Religion as Literature, Shakespeare, 19th and 20th Century Poetry, Ethnography, Indigenous Literature of the Americas, plus many more
  • English as a Second Language I-II
  • Geography
  • History: American History, World History, African-American History, Anthropology, Current Affairs, Latin-American History, European History, Social Studies, World History, plus many more
  • Linguistics
  • Math: Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Advanced Trigonometry, Calculus, Advanced Calculus, Statistics, Finance, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Physical Education
  • Science: Biology, Advanced Biology, Anatomy and Physiology I-II, Biochemistry I-II, Chemistry, Advanced Chemistry, Ecology, Environmental Science, Genetics, Organic Chemistry, Physics I-II, Conceptual Physics, plus many more
  • Social Sciences: Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology
  • World Languages (all levels): Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin