Educational Philosophies

CLASS Academy was founded in 1995 by Teresa Cantlon.

Her life-long passion for teaching and commitment to children drove her to develop a program that would reach all types of children’s emotional, social, and educational needs. The program is developed around a safe, caring, orderly environment and designed to develop in each child a love of learning.  Civility and respect for self and others is the norm.  Diversity is explored and celebrated every day.

Children are taught in an age blended environment where innovation, challenged thinking, multisensory learning and teamwork are promoted.  They are individually challenged to proceed at THEIR optimum rate of learning.  We believe that children will live up to expectations, positive or negative.  CLASS Academy holds high positive expectations for each student, teacher and parent and those expectations are met daily.

Ms. Cantlon’s years of experience have provided proof of her theory that all children, given equal opportunities at a very young age, can rise to a high level emotionally, socially and academically.Children do not learn at the same time and pace. Chronological age is not the gauge for placing students into learning groups. They are placed into groups according to their emotional, social, and academic levels.  Curriculum each year “spirals back” to meet all children’s learning styles and rates.

Groups are age-blended.  Therefore, students can move successfully through their skill levels.  Students are not frustrated, but slightly challenged in daily learning. They feel pride in accomplishment in their learning.

We work with each child’s developmental level of learning with a “hands-on” discovery approach.   The curriculum includes math, science, reading, language arts, spelling, penmanship, art, and physical education.  Between educational periods, CLASS Academy utilizes “energizers” to help the children maintain concentration.  Homework is given on a regular basis to reinforce learning that is in progress.  It also helps to keep parents informed of current learning activities at school.

CLASS is an acronym for Cantlon’s Learning Academy for Spectacular Students.  Ms. Cantlon believes that ALL students are special.  Her program shows the students how special they are.

Diversity

CLASS Academy was established for children to experience, appreciate and respect diversity.  When children are exposed to the differences among their peers and are allowed to learn more about others they will understand, appreciate, and accept the differences in all of us. Students with special learning needs are not segregated, rather they participate fully in class rotations and activities.

Educational Assessment

Annual base-line assessments are done on every student.  Daily record keeping on all skills furnishes data for determining re-teaching or enrichment.  Math, reading and science assessments are administered after completion of thematic topics.

“Energizers”

Between the 20 to 30 minute “rotations” (educational period) the children stand up and do a physical activity.  These are overseen by the instructor and may include light calisthenics, rhythms or perhaps a game of freeze dancing.  These activities help the children get the “wiggles” out and enable them to concentrate more easily on their next lesson.

Homework

Homework is part of the day-to-day expectations of work-study skills at CLASS Academy.  Students receive simple homework a minimum of twice a week beginning at the preschool level.  The homework is generally a fun activity for the child and should never be too difficult or frustrating for them to accomplish. Homework reinforces learning that is in progress, develops good study habits and familiarizes the parents with what their child is currently learning.

Age Blended Classes

Possibly the most prominent philosophy of the CLASS Academy program is the belief in age blended classes.  This is done to fully meet each student’s emotional, social and academic needs.  For example, a student might do very well academically but  socially/emotionally he/she might need more time to develop.  The pressure to perform academically can hinder his emotional/social growth and affect his self esteem.  When he is placed in a group according to his needs, not his age, he performs at a higher level academically.  The student’s self esteem is being elevated while emotional, social and academic needs are being met on an individual basis.

Spiral Learning

Curriculum is similar year-to-year to allow a child to build and expand upon his/her knowledge base depending on his/her social and emotional levels for taking in the information.  For example when a child first learns about deciduous trees the information will be processed as knowledge, the lowest level of learning.  As the child matures she will take this information to a higher level until they are at the mastery or evaluative level with the information.  When at the evaluative level a person is able to make judgments about and evaluate information, do something new with or use the information in a new way.  Some programs boast that their curriculum will not be repeated.  For instance they may teach about the Solar System in the third grade, the Oregon Trail in the fourth.  The problem with that is that a majority of learners cannot reach the mastery-evaluative level of learning with only one exposure to the information.  The average learner requires five to twenty-five repetitions for new information to reach a mastery level.  Therefore, each year CLASS Academy students “spiral back” for review, re-teaching and exposure in a new way to meet all children’s learning styles and rate of learning.

Spelling and Penmanship

CLASS Academy’s philosophy regarding spelling is that there will not be formal spelling lists given for memorization.  Children have creative writing on a daily basis and will immediately edit and correct their own spelling errors through the use of electronic spellers or traditional dictionaries. Creative or “guess and go” spelling is not CLASS Academy’s way to learn correct spelling.  If a student immediately corrects his spelling errors and uses accurate spelling on a daily basis then correct spelling becomes the norm and not the exception.

At CLASS Academy the students are taught D’Nelian handwriting which makes the transition to cursive easier.  Penmanship and neatness is a signature of the pride and care that students display in their work.  This skill needs to be instilled at a very young age, therefore, teachers encourage each child to take pride and care in every activity he or she engages in.

Math and Science

Students are introduced to math and computational skills using verbal story problems along with fun, child friendly manipulatives to solve them.  ‘Touchpoints’ are used in addition and subtraction while skip counting to songs makes multiplication and division a breeze.  Coupons and play money are incorporated into the older children’s curriculum to help prepare them for handling money as they get older.  Students learn the names of the planets, as well as the continents through fun songs.

Reading and Language Arts

Reading and language arts are curriculum blended.  Reading is taught in a “traditional” format with phonics being the emphasis and sight words incorporated.  Emergent reading is done in small groups.  Part of the curriculum is done with “basal” readers which are vocabulary controlled with word repetition for faster student application. Reinforcement of skills is done with high interest books of the same level.  Reading comprehension skills are reinforced daily not only in the current text, but through games and text which give immediate feedback as to accuracy and not a tedious pencil-paper format.

Social Skills

Manners and appropriate social skills are the expectation at CLASS Academy. Students learn how to interact with one another in a positive and socially acceptable format.  The children learn how to be independent as well as interdependent learners and workers.  The “I can” attitude is reinforced daily.  They are taught skills which help them interact and work in partner groups as well as with all classmates in general to prepare them emotionally, socially, and academically for the twenty-first century.

Art and Physical Education

Every student at CLASS Academy experiences a full body developmental program which includes tumbling, gymnastics, obstacle courses, freeze dancing, seasonal swimming and ice skating.  The students learn age appropriate dances to perform with great ambition at parent nights and holiday performances.  Art and art history is a favorite part of the children’s day as they produce “Monet” style paintings, learn about different textures, colors and mediums.