Venn Academy's Philosophy & Tenets
We have two classrooms, divided by age and developmental level. The Willamette room is focused on early elementary education, and the Rogue room is focused on middle school education. There are many private, independent, schools in the Portland area, so it’s important to take a moment to recognize what makes Venn Academy unique. Here are the central tenets of our educational model.
We strive to:
Provide a Relationship-Based Education,
Create Personalized Instruction,
and Support Empowered Learning.
These three tenets are at the heart of our academic curriculum and structure, and to talk about them is to talk about Venn Academy.
Relationship-Based Education is any academic environment which focuses primarily on the relationships present. Instead of being based on a specific outcome, relationship-based education takes a more holistic view. Relationships are all about connection, and relationship-based education focuses on those connections between student and content, between student and teacher, between teacher and parents, and between parents and content. In practice, this means that curriculum is often derived from student interests. It means that parents are often involved in expanding and extending the classroom curriculum. It means that teachers are more concerned with a student’s respect, honesty, care, appreciation, ambition, and joy in learning than they are with any specific learning outcome. Also, it means the use of authentic assessments which more accurately reflect student knowledge and skill than standardized exams.
This is not to be mistaken for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). It is not the use of diagnostic assessments and progress monitoring to track students into specific programs or to identify them for additional services. Instead, it is a proactive approach to student learning needs. While all students in a given classroom receive identical curriculum content, how that content is delivered is personalized based on student needs, history, learning style, and personal preference. While the classroom is working on a writing assignment, for instance, a student with a need for additional handwriting practice might be doing so by hand, while another student might be doing the same assignment through dictation software because of a specific language difference such as dyslexia. This might also mean that for certain assignments which lend themselves to personal choice, one student might be reading fantasy novels during independent reading while another student might be reading books about Vietnam-era planes. This personalization helps to obviate learning challenges before they become a learning deficit or require outside or intervention based educational services.
Empowered Learners are students and teachers who are confident, capable, and cooperative. An empowered learner has a strong knowledge base in the major content areas and an extensive toolkit of learning strategies. More importantly, however, an empowered learner is one who feels safe in exploring new concepts and content with or without the help of others. While any learner can receive information, an empowered learner seeks out new information, asks meaningful and thoughtful questions, and thinks critically about the answers and information they receive. Students who leave Venn Academy should feel capable in any future academic environment, whether that environment is highly structured, minimally structured, rudimentary, or advanced. To achieve this, students must be supported both personally and academically. They must build confidence. To do so, they must work through carefully chosen, challenging, and engaging activities. Venn Academy teachers work to expand, not diminish, a child’s natural desire and propensity for learning and exploration. While no one creates an empowered learner, Venn Academy is an environment in which empowered learning thrives.