Heritage Academy middle school program offers a traditional educational format for students in grades sixth through eighth. The Heritage middle school focuses on critical thinking, or the ability to identify issues, build relationships between disparate topics and solve problems.
The ability to think critically was highly prized by previous generations of educators, and is a foundational aspect of modern liberal arts colleges and universities. So prized is the student with solid critical thinking skills, technology companies and other high income industries are rushing to fill their experience gap with individuals fully capable of solving multiple problems. Often, they are the bridge between a technology engineer and the customer.
A Lifelong Love of Learning
Critical thinking opens the doors to a ‘lifelong love of learning.’ Heritage teachers are passionate about their subjects and their students. Heritage teachers strongly feel that Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, points based reading structures and other incentivized educational efforts stand in the way of successful education. A successful student acquires the desire to self-learn, self-grow and self-improve. The gift is the education, and not an object or a test.
Critical Thinking vs. Rote Learning
There are several methods available to educate any individual. Of them, Heritage embraces critical thinking. Critical thinking is a near timeless concept that has been employed successfully in Western education for centuries.
Critical thinking is a rich concept that has been developing throughout the past 2500 years. It is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use intellectual tools – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess and improve thinking. They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.
(The Critical Thinking Community)
Rote learning is typically employed by schools with large class sizes. It favors repetition and testing. The concept maintains a student will quickly recall the meaning of course material the more it is repeated. The two biggest examples of rote learning are the alphabet and numbers. Other examples include multiplication tables and spelling words.
Rote learning does have a place at Heritage Academy. In subject areas that require a level of memorization, rote learning is successfully employed. However, it is not elevated to the all or nothing status found at many other schools. At Heritage, problem solving is championed over memorization.
Christian World View
Every person sees the world from a certain point of view. In many schools, it is a secular humanist view from which all subjects are taught. At Heritage, every subject is taught from a Biblical viewpoint. The activities, projects, school wide presentations, and parallel reading are carefully selected so that they embrace the Christian world view. Our goal is to grow students who will view the world through the lens of God’s Word thereby becoming productive godly citizens. Heritage maintains a non-denominational approach as teachers begin each day with prayer and devotions.
Small Class Size
Heritage Academy maintains an excellent average student/teacher ratio of 7:1. This means, on average, that there are seven students in a class with one teacher. Heritage provides an outstanding amount of teacher contact time per student.
For example, if your son or daughter is in a large 30 student class for one hour, they can expect only two minutes of contact time with the teacher during that period. At Heritage, the teacher’s contact time jumps to almost nine minutes. Teachers at Heritage make every effort to prevent students from flying under the radar or fall through the ‘cracks.’ They will be engaged, challenged, and pushed.
Heritage Academy has six grading periods in a two semester format. There are three grading periods per semester. The first semester typically begins in August. The second semester typically begins in early January. The online calendar provides specific dates.
Heritage Academy uses the traditional seven point grading scale for determining grades. The following grading scale is used for 1st through 8th grades.
Throughout the school year, Heritage stops to recognize outstanding student achievement. The Academy currently provides two routes for recognition. They include the Headmaster’s List and the Honor Roll.
The Headmaster’s List – Heritage students who achieve straight A grades for a given grading period qualify for the recognition
Honor Roll – Heritage students who achieve A and B level grades may qualify for the Honor Roll.
Language arts and math are the primary subjects of the college level SAT. Achieving strong success on this key college entrance test begins early. Heritage maintains a strong focus on English and math at the middle school level, and pushes critical thinking at every opportunity. Problem solving skills ensure that the Heritage educated student can meet the challenges found at the high school and college level.
Language Arts (English, grammar, spelling reading and composition)
Heritage Academy maintains a highly traditional approach to language arts instruction. Small class size permits a strong focus on writing and grammar. These are traditionally the hardest subsets of the subject to teach, and are distinct areas were Heritage excels. Heritage language arts teachers demand main ideas and supporting statements in writing as well as the proper use of grammar. Reading, spelling, and vocabulary are employed to expand a student’s language comprehension. All students are encouraged to read, both for school and leisure. Learning how to write and communicate well is a gift that will pay off well after students leave Heritage.
Heritage students love math. Heritage math is a straightforward, traditional educational approach to its instruction. Math has built-in problem solving and lends itself easily to the Academy’s focus on critical thinking. In middle school, students are introduced to algebraic mathematic concepts and explore higher level fractions and percents. Word problems, the bane of math students everywhere, are employed to maintain a strong focus on real life mathematics problem solving. Heritage students typically excel in this key subject area.
Hands on Learning
Heritage Academy feels that the best learning occurs when students are directly allowed to engage their subject and subject material. Whenever possible, Heritage teachers are encouraged to employ guest speakers and demonstrations in their coursework. Enrichment activities engage students and help to make them more receptive to learning.
Heritage also employs annual middle school projects and field trips to provide dynamic aspects to the educational process.