Decades of solid research about motivation tells us that students - and people of ALL ages - will work hard willingly, even joyfully, when they have four basic conditions in place...
New Village Academy is designed so that students are:
What's possible at New Village??
Small By Design
New Village Academy is small by design so that everyone knows one another, structures are flexible, and individualized education for each student is possible. We are open to approximately 185 Annapolis-area students in grades 9-12. We are located within the Annapolis city public transportation network, near both underserved communities and a wide variety of workplace opportunities and community resources. Students have access to the specialized classes and programs that a small school can't provide through our partnerships with Anne Arundel Community College and Annapolis High School.
Each student is a member of a "Crew" – a small group of 14 students with a “Crew leader” (staff advisor) who knows students and their families deeply and stays with the same crew for all 4 years. Crews meet daily to support one another’s growth through teambuilding, outside-of-school adventures, mindfulness skill building, and shared personal and academic reflection. Every Crew member knows they have a safe place to do the hard work of learning and growing.
The Crew leader is a student’s primary coach in the process of individualizing their education, helping lead each student's Navigation Team, supporting the success of internships, and helping students to make academic choices that get them closer to their personal goals.
Nobody "falls through the cracks" at New Village Academy.
The Navigation Plan
Each student designs and is accountable to their own Navigation Plan, with quarterly presentations to their Navigation Team – their Crew leader/advisor, their internship mentor, their parent(s), and an additional adult and peer of their choosing – where students present their portfolios of work, reflect on their successes and challenges, and, with the support of their team, establish measurable short and long-term goals and action steps for the next quarter.
While four-year college is encouraged, it is not the only pathway to success for our students.
Learning through Internships
Each student spends 1-2 days per week learning in a workplace under a mentor with expertise in the skills the student wants to acquire. Internships become progressively more focused on students’ career interests and involve increasing responsibility and preparation for well-paid, impactful careers.
Workplace mentors play a crucial positive role in the student's education and in the school community, becoming a member of their student's Navigation Team. Mentors often grow as much from the internship experience as the students they work with.
Students learn content knowledge and skills through long-term, authentic, interdisciplinary learning and action projects, first in teacher-led groups, then student-led groups, and finally individually, and as leaders of group projects. Projects teach academic, career, and life skills through meaningful work that positively impacts the Annapolis community. These projects, along with LTIs (internship experiences), form the backbone of the educational experience at New Village Academy.
Skills Workshops and Community College
Sometimes direct instruction is the best way to learn specific information or skills. Students with targeted needs in basic or grade-level academic competencies or in specialized training can access those skills through "skills workshops" led by New Village teachers, individualized online training programs, and AACC courses. Crew reflection activities and Navigation Teams help students recognize the need to develop specific skills to achieve their own future plans and develop the best approach to accessing those skills. No one is "behind" or "advanced" because everyone is on their own learning path.
Student success is measured through the demonstrated development of skills and knowledge rather than by the amount of time spent sitting in a classroom. All students must pass four Maryland State proficiency tests in Math, English-Language Arts, Biology, and Government. Students earn high school credits by demonstrating knowledge and skills in the same subject areas that are required in a traditional high school, but can learn those competencies and earn credits in their own preferred ways – through skills workshops with teachers, project-based learning, community college classes, self-guided study, or LTIs (internships). Portfolio presentations to the student's Navigation Team determine whether students have met their personal goals and demonstrated required competencies to earn the credits needed to graduate.
All students must pass through two Gateways on their path to graduation. The first Gateway requires demonstration of maturity, self-knowledge, community contribution, and basic academic skills that are necessary for success in any career and life pathway - what educators call "College and Career Readiness." Most, but not all, students are ready to pass through this Gateway after their second year at the school.
The second Gateway requires additional demonstration of personal growth and leadership; more specialized skills and preparation for college or career next steps; financial, digital, and communication literacy; and a public presentation of a thorough, realistic, well-designed plan for the future. Passing through both Gateways, along with the awarding of required high school credits, is a prerequisite for graduation from New Village Academy. Each Gateway transition is honored by the entire New Village community and symbolizes an important step in personal growth as well as preparation for future career and citizenship.
The school community shares the responsibility to ensure that all members contribute positively to the school. Students and staff rotate participation on a Restorative Justice Committee (RJC), hearing concerns and addressing student misconduct using the principles of restorative justice and apologies of action. Crew advisors and student leaders are trained in mindfulness, de-escalation, and restorative practices so that when a student's behavior negatively impacts the community, the student can be supported by caring peers and adults to reflect on their actions, repair harm, and make change, instead of being punished arbitrarily by authority figures.
The school community is a collaborative one – decisions are made with the input of the people most impacted by them, including both staff AND students. An optional, inclusive School Council meets weekly after school, where students, staff, and community mentors can all weigh in on decisions and have their voices heard. Students, teachers, counselors, and custodians all contribute to the school vision and make thoughtful, supported decisions about how best to respond to student needs. This process takes time but creates a more united, resilient, and effective school with deeply invested students, staff, and community.