- Common Sense Media
- Community Time and Assemblies
- Diversity Curriculum
- Ethics Curriculum
- Identity Curriculum
- One Schoolhouse
- Social justice and anti-bias instruction
All Upper School students meet twice daily in small advisory groups, co-led by two faculty members. Advisors watch over and foster the social, emotional, and academic growth of their students, acting as personal, in-school advocates and coaches. Daily morning and afternoon advisory periods provide time for students to organize their work and for advisors to check in with their students. Weekly advisory blocks, held on Wednesday mornings, engage students in a mindfulness curriculum and other social and emotional skill-building activities. Advisors also serve as a first point of contact for parents, partnering proactively to ensure all students are fully engaged and thriving in the IDEAL community.
IDEAL is an official Common Sense Media Supporter School. Common Sense Media a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of technology as a positive force in their lives. Common Sense Media also provides professional development and resources for faculty and weekly tips for families to provide guidance for navigating and engaging with today’s social media in a safe and productive way.
Student-led assemblies occur biweekly on Thursdays after lunch, alternating with club time in the Upper School schedule. Assemblies include IDEALTalks, announcements, and presentations by outside speakers. Community Time is focused on our diversity and ability curricula and on our social justice programming. On the first day of school, a special schedule includes an assembly at which students learn about opportunities to propose and lead clubs and to run for student council.
Each month at IDEAL, we focus on a different core value that we believe is essential for developing ethical citizens, such as Respect, Compassion, Peace, and Justice. Teachers are encouraged to build grade-specific curriculum units and service learning projects around these core values. School events and traditions are linked to these core values, and they are organizing principles that contribute to the other aspects of our Diversity Curriculum, such as Community Time discussions and student assembly presentations.
IDEAL students begin in kindergarten and continue learning about themselves, empowering their unique identities, and gaining an understanding of the other identities in their classroom communities. Students develop a positive sense of who they are and a genuine feeling of belonging, that that they are valued and respected as part of a community, and how their identities impact that community.
Each month, the core values that we emphasize are linked to major identifiers such as gender, ability, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and intersectionality. These identifiers are explored in structured activities and conversations about related current events, and they are celebrated in student assemblies. Identity is also explored on an ongoing basis throughout the curriculum, including social studies and history units, reading assignments, life skills course work, and creative arts units and projects.
IDEAL is a member of One Schoolhouse, an online educational community dedicated to transforming education through professional development, exceptional resources for educators, and coed and single-sex courses for boys and girls that model the values, interpersonal relationships, and critical-thinking skills the member schools emphasize in their face-to-face classes.
Through our membership in One Schoolhouse, we expand our High School course offerings and provide professional development for faculty in 21st century learning. One Schoolhouse electives include courses such as Psychology, Latin 1, Marine Science, and This I Believe: Activism in the Age of Disenfranchisement and Extremism. Through One Schoolhouse, IDEAL is also able to offer Advanced Placement (AP) classes, including AP Spanish Literature & Culture and AP Music Theory, to students who meet the course prerequisites.
Through social justice and anti-bias instruction, students are taught to be aware of bias and injustice, both individual and systemic; to understand the short- and long-term impact of injustice; and about those who have fought for more fairness and justice in our world. Guided discussion provides opportunities for students to engage in dialogue in which they share feelings, experiences, and insights in response to structured lessons and about current events. Students are encouraged both to share their own ideas and to respond to the ideas of a classmate. Students are taught how to discuss issues respectfully with people who might not share their opinions—an important skill that will serve them their entire lives. Social justice topics also provide opportunities for collaboration toward a common goal. Our focus on social justice gives students the critical thinking skills they need to solve problems in their own lives, in their local communities, and on a global scale. IDEAL students see their potential to effect change and are equipped with the tools to be advocates and upstanders.
Although social justice and anti-bias instruction is infused throughout the curriculum, dedicated Community Time focuses on diversity, identity, and social justice programming. In the Upper School, Community Time occurs biweekly and includes student-led discussions of current events and social justice issues, cultivating student leadership, voice, and confidence. By leading the agenda and presenting in front of their peers, students grow their confidence and strengthen their self-advocacy skills, while practicing respect for the diverse perspectives of their peers and teachers. Community Time supports students’ own journeys to be critical thinkers and to form and express their own opinions.
Social justice and anti-bias instruction are also incorporated into assembly themes and the Identity Curriculum. It is part of social studies and history teaching, where it is a natural fit to study the history of social injustice, social movements, and social change and to connect it to the present. Our annual, schoolwide Civil Rights Museum weaves interdisciplinary units in each grade focused upon specific historical periods of injustice, related social movements, and the human and civil rights activists who effected social change, such as Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malala Yousafzai. The Civil Rights Museum features dynamic, interactive student exhibits such as music videos, films, and news reports that are the result of weeks of student learning, research, collaboration, and cross-curricular planning with classroom and creative arts teachers. At IDEAL, we believe that exposing students to the wide range of responses to injustice, including advocacy and activism, encourages students to themselves become agents of positive change.