The Quest for Excellence
The quest for excellence extends to all areas that influence the most advantageous development of the child. Besides expecting a “well rounded individual,” self-confident and able to exercise self-control, the entire staff makes sure that students distinguish right from wrong based upon universally recognized values. However, we must share with the families, and society in general, the responsibility for the development of physical, psychological, and moral values. Therefore, the school focuses primarily upon the academic aspects of the students’ needs, since this area is considered our main responsibility.
Extensive and intensive learning not only provides the students with an accumulation of information but also gives them a body of background knowledge to make the proper associations for future learning and the application of their knowledge. The teachers question the students at higher cognitive levels requiring them to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate using inferences. They stimulate and encourage creativity and “thinking out of the box.”
Blue Valley also offers a variety of elective courses at the high school level to allow students to design a program that better fits their specific needs and interests. Electives are designed to assist those interested in an academically intensive program, and to meet the needs of those interested in a general course of study that will broaden their horizons and expose them to different career paths.
We approach service in two directions: service to the students and service by the students towards their fellow human beings and to their environment.
The best service to the students is teaching them at their level of understanding. As early as three and a half years old, students attend a Montessori classroom where they are given the opportunity to work on the constructive activities of their choice. Besides the obvious advantage of training themselves to choose, to evaluate activities, and to feel that their opinions are important, experience has shown that children choose activities where they can be successful. Thus, they grow with the feeling of accomplishment, avoiding a message of ineptitude when they have to do what they are told and perhaps cannot always handle at that time. Nevertheless, limits and routines are quite important. Learning to choose within set limits is another habit we pursue. Once fundamental life skills are acquired, the system evolves gradually incorporating more traditional methodologies.
Aside from academic issues, and because we are intent on educating well-rounded individuals, developing their commitment to service has become increasingly important in our philosophy. As important as service to the students (directly or through their parents, evident in the above paragraphs) is educating the students to assume a growing responsibility towards their fellow human beings and their society as a whole: to learn to give and not only expect to receive. Our students, because of the instruction they are receiving and their socio-economic status (parents that can pay for excellent service) are bound to become executives in their professional life. As leaders in their field, the country and the world expect them to be compassionate persons; conscious that they can and should leave a footprint that will ensure that the world has become a better place than the one they found. Blue Valley has identified work in two areas: community service and ecological environmental education. Community service projects begin in elementary and culminate in secondary with global and individual humanitarian projects, like one on one relationship helping less privileged students. Environmental education is pervasive throughout, in theory and in practice.