Vision: The Innovation Academy at South Campus will provide personalized, student-centered learning experiences that will prepare students for success and wellness in college and a global workplace. The staff of at IA is committed to creating an expectation of academic excellence through caring and relationship-driven environments. All aspects of the school’s organization, curricular, and co-curricular activities are student-centered so that ALL may experience lifelong success.
What We Teach
Our approach to content is personalized yet aligned by the content standards taught at all other Johnston County Public Schools. Our students’ education is developed and shaped by the student in collaboration with our team. Whenever possible, the path to standards mastery can be customized to the student’s ability, interest, and/or independence level. Students are given as much structure and support as they need to be successful in their academic and character growth. Using this approach our students excel at the same content (and beyond) taught in other schools and take all necessary End of Grade (EOG) Exams. While the standards may be common, we know that students are not. They each have their own learning journey. We are committed to personalized learning that lets students practice what they most need help on at their own pace.
Students learn to take ownership of their education at IA. We design learning experiences for students to develop a desire to take action and assume responsibility for their behavior and learning in a safe and relationship-centered environment. To support the development of student agency, students learn how to set meaningful goals and hold themselves accountable for their learning and personal development. Students own their learning and have a voice in their school experience.
Character and Social-Emotional Skills
In conjunction with teaching academic content standards, our curriculum at IA emphasizes the development of “soft skills," such as being conscientious, curious, entrepreneurial, perseverant, self-aware, self-regulated, and socially intelligent. Students develop strong habits of the mind, such as communication, inquiry, analysis and synthesis, diagnosis, innovation, reasoning, and managing complexity. Students develop the capacity to set, meet, and hold themselves accountable for meaningful goals on their own. Our intention through emphasizing a social-emotional learning curriculum is to provide students with the tools to solve their own problems, recognize appropriate and inappropriate choices, develop strategies for making good choices, and develop self-discipline. Students are expected to explore and develop a talent or passion during their years at IA , which will be highlighted in digital and hard copy portfolios.
How We Teach
Facilitating Student Inquiry through Project Based Learning
Our approach to teaching content standards is based in inquiry and mastery. Meaningful inquiry gives direction to student projects. Content or “the big ideas,” are explored through inquiry sequences. The inquiry connects knowledge from core skills to context. To facilitate student inquiry we use Project Based Learning pedagogy. We believe that learning is most effective when students’ school experiences have context and are connected to their lives. Students spend half their time at IA learning through projects often co-designed with teachers and informed by content standards. Many projects are designed to be interdisciplinary. All projects are designed to connect to academic and social/emotional skills (character, cognitive skills, global citizenship, creation, purpose, independence). Learning and advancing through our curriculum happens when each student has fully mastered target objectives, concepts, and skills. We leverage blended learning when appropriate to support this personalized strategy. The physical design of IA learning spaces provide the necessary environment for this type of learning. Students will regularly apply their learning from PBL investigations into skill practice sessions in each content area to solidify their understanding of specific problems they will encounter on End of Grade (EOG) assessments.
Learning and advancing through our curriculum happens when each student has fully mastered target objectives, concepts, and skills. Mastery is by diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment, goal tracking, frequent one-on-one conferences with teachers, and review of data from online tools. Qualitative and quantitative assessment data are shared with students and parents on an ongoing basis and during student-led parent-teacher conferences. Students will receive feedback in multiple forms which include numeric scores, letters grades, as well as verbal and written narrative feedback. Embracing a mastery-based approach allows staff at IA to create more personalized learning options for students so that ALL may excel based on their individual needs.
Multidisciplinary Teaching and Blended Learning Approaches
At IA , English Language Arts (ELA) will often interact and be taught along Social Studies/Social Sciences, so students are not only mastering ELA concepts (connected to Common Core Standards), but they are also opening their global and historical perspectives by layering Social Studies concepts on top of their ELA concepts. Students might work on concept-connected vocabulary, participate in group discussions, complete content challenges, receive direct instruction, and participate in one-on-ones with the English and/or Social Studies Teachers. Students will have the opportunity to consistently practice their public speaking skills. They also practice the writing process in three major writing styles: narrative, informational, and argumentative. Students will engage in a thoughtful reading curriculum that balances informational texts with literature. Similarly, Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Technology (STEM ) topics are often taught in an integrated fashion through investigations. Students construct meaning by designing, conducting, and reflecting on scientific investigations that require them to learn, practice, and apply mathematics skills and ideas. The scientific process, which encourages hands-on experience, inquiry, and critical thinking, enables students to make informed and responsible decisions, not only in science but also in other areas of life. Our students are provided opportunities to work individually and with their peers to learn about STEM topics within and beyond the classroom. Technology and online, adaptive curriculums may also be used when appropriate to leverage ongoing, personalized learning for students in addition to working with with their teachers and peers in their face to face classes. There will be times when it is appropriate for learning to take place just within one content area at a time based on a given learning design.
Breaking Down Walls: Engaging our Community
We encourage students to take ownership and get involved in their communities, thinking about the bigger pictures of their lives. To facilitate this “bigger picture” mindset, students will be introduced to community members as well as high school mentor students in the area which we expect to help students make important connections beyond the walls of IA. Students will also learn from the community through guest speakers, field studies, and participating in community service projects. Students will have opportunities to exhibit their work to public audiences throughout the year both to give back to the community and learn from meaningful feedback and expertise of community members. IA partners with Smithfield-Selma High School and Johnston County Early College Academy to vertically plan and integrate our students as much as possible when appropriate. Parents of lab school students are also a part of our learning family and are encouraged and supported to be involved regularly.
Each student will meet with an adviser on a weekly basis to focus on setting, tracking, and reflecting on goals.
The Innovation Academy at South Campus
521 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr, Smithfield, NC 27577