From the Desk of the Principal (Jan. 2014)
As we approach the end of the first semester at New Horizons Academy at Sara’s Garden, this old principal continues to be amazed by the academic and social growth of children, who in the world’s poor perception were not able to succeed or develop into independent learners.
Many of the students have met and exceeded the academic IEP (Individual Educational Plan) and/or behavioral goals, which had been set prior to attending New Horizons Academy. As I contemplate how and why these academic and behavioral improvements have occurred, I think about what is important to children as they grow into independent adults.
- It is important for children to be truly loved and to feel safe in their environment. Because of the small classroom population, the intervention specialists at NHA are able to provide that special learning climate which creates a culture of safety and caring. Students who need those unique minutes for special hugs or words of encouragement find them in these settings. The small group settings also provide time and attention for effective problem solving in positive and stress-free surroundings.
- All children desire success. Once children have experienced success, they strive to experience it again. Success builds upon success, which once again builds a positive learning climate. Many of those who now attend NHA had previously not experienced success. Success is now prevalent and an exciting daily occurrence.
- Children not only want to be safe, loved and successful but also need to give to others who they are and what they have. To assist the children in accomplishing these goals of giving, the staff at New Horizons Academy has developed several special programs, which enhance the values of giving and caring and also create opportunities to express and demonstrate such values.
- The students at New Horizons helped to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. Academic goals were incorporated into the preparation of this meal. In other words, academic and hands-on experiences took place during this event. It was exciting to observe students encouraging each other while working together to complete this project. The most excitement transpired in witnessing the older children serving the meal to the younger students. The thankfulness from the smaller children, who would not have been able to accomplish this meal alone, to the older children was truly rewarding.
- During the Christmas season, the staff established a motivational reward system, which included the collection of reward points or coins for successes within each classroom. The children chose other students to whom they would give gifts purchased with their reward points or coins. The reward points and coins were used by the students to purchase donated gifts which were then given to “Adriel Foster Children.” Another class mixed, cut-out, baked and frosted cookies which were donated to “Heartland Rehabilitation Center.” These same students then caroled their way through Sara’s Garden Hyperbaric Center, cheerfully entertaining the grateful clients.
All of these projects, not only served academic purposes but, helped to develop an environment of caring, sharing and success which all children need to eventually become independent learners.
In approaching the next semester, NHA is excited to welcome eleven new students and three additional teachers. This increases our enrollment to thirty-six (36) full-time students and three (3) part-time students. The fifth through ninth graders will be attending classes in the new addition to the hyperbaric facility due to expanding growth in enrollment. The Board of Directors and NHA administration will continue to operate with the same philosophy that has supported the electrifying academic and social growth of our students kindled in the first semester.
As always, do not hesitate to make contact should questions or concerns arise.
David D Burkholder
New Horizons Academy