First, we are very much like the middle school. In fact, in a practical sense, the Nature Academy functions much like a "school within a school"- that is, a small program within the larger program. Nature Academy students share the same breaks, lunch period, and after school sports programs as those enrolled at SLVMS. For students, it's like attending the same school, but having a different set of teachers than their peers. The major differences are few, but for some parents and students, those differences are mighty. They include:
Field Studies Emphasis: Far beyond anything we can do in the classroom, linking learning to real world experiences is the most powerful tool we have as learners to anchor information. It is this understanding of brain biology which drives our choices at the Nature Academy to explore the world around us. Students in the Nature Academy will benefit from studies in Fall Creek, School Garden projects, Exporatorium, San Jose Tech Museum, Pacific Grove/Cannery Row/Great Tide Pools, Monterey Bay Aquarium & Waste Water Treatment Plants. Teambuilding trips include Pacific Edge Climbing Gym and Beach Cleanup, Ropes Courses, Bowling and River Walks. Overnights have included trips to Big Basin, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Russian River, Catalina Island, and Yosemite Institute. When learning is linked with actual experience, learning lasts a lifetime.
Myth or Reality?
Student :Teacher Ratio District guidelines set academic class limits at 31:1 while the Nature Academy's is set at 25:1. Middle School Math & Language Arts classes have been reduced in recent years to facillitate achieving higher test scores. Resource and SDC classes often have much lower ratios than the Nature Academy.
The combination of these three things has, each year, made us a family.