The New Leaf Leadership Academy is an alternative high school program, within Vicente Martinez High School, for students who are interested in learning outside the box. Students enjoy learning in a collaborative atmosphere where students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members work together on projects that help transform our school community, local landscape and cultural environments toward a sustainable future. A standards-based curriculum is integrated into hands-on, community-based projects that meet local, global and environmental concerns. Students receive a high school diploma while receiving career focused experience and leadership training.
New Leaf offers students a non-traditional educational experience that honors and nurtures the whole child through individualized learning plans, place-based learning projects, and career mentors and internships. New Leaf students are enrolled in a cohort and assigned to one primary teacher. Each week they attend a variety of different learning experiences:
- 2-4 project focused team experiences
- Academic skill development workshops
- Teambuilding and leadership training sessions with cohort
- Weekly appointments with their teacher
- New Leaf field trips and/or career-focused seminars.
Students sign up for projects at beginning of the academic year based upon project descriptions and course syllabi that teachers have developed. Students choose projects based upon students particular interests, their Stage level and their cohort teacher’s evaluation of credit needs. Focus is placed upon the development of life long learning skills, including stress management techniques.
As a hands-on learning community, New Leaf students learn from each other, follow democratic values, become active stewards of the environment, and develop into agents for social and environmental change. An emphasis is placed upon creating a strong sense of pride, purpose, and place in the program. The students are involved in many aspects of decision-making, mentoring and project planning and implementation. The teacher is involved in all aspects of learning new content for projects, project coordination, grant writing and fundraising public outreach, administrative decision-making and program leadership. The administrator is involved in the teaching and learning process in collaboration with the students, teachers, and community. Community members are involved in teaching, learning, grant writing, project coordination, mentoring, and decision-making. These egalitarian principles are woven into the tapestry of our program; a mosaic that is always evolving in our loom.
New Leaf academics are integrative, interactive and holistic. Furthermore, New Leaf provides the means by which every student will meet and demonstrate mastery of all California Blueprint Standards either by direct instruction, project-based learning or independent study. In partnership with their teacher, each student participates in co-creating an individualized learning plan. Each student take district approved diagnostic tests in preparation for proper placement in required grade-level appropriate courses. Students are exposed to a variety of careers and college opportunities through field trips, internships and community-based, action projects.
Within the New Leaf Leadership Academy classroom, our mission is to connect students and teachers to integrated, purposeful, and holistic learning through place-based, experiential, service-learning projects that results in a high school diploma and college and career readiness.
The program’s vision seeks to create balanced young adults who become leaders of their own lives and in their community.
New Leaf Goals:
- Infuse the vision, mission statements and principles of the hero’s journey into every experience.
- Facilitate students’ academic success.
- Offer opportunities for students to learn about and practice social and emotional health
- Provide a healthy social network in which students can experience empowerment
- Teach ecological literacy and global awareness
- Prepare students for careers by career exposure and training