Nexus STEM Academy has a definite “feel” to it. The culture is focused and disciplined, but encourages scholars to question while being respectful. School rituals and routines, called Gestalt 101, support scholars in becoming a wonderful mix of focused, purposeful, upstanding, persuasive, and inquisitive:
Morning Seminar: Starts our day off right. Teachers assign roles to their homeroom scholars to lead in the pledges and chants of the school, and to make the day's announcements.
Greeting Scholars: Warm/strict is the tone and professional is the culture. Teachers greet each scholar at the door with a handshake or fist bump, and then students enter a structured classroom in which they SLANT: Sit up, Listen attentively, Ask and answer questions; Nod when you understand; and Track the speaker.
Classroom Environment: Each classroom has the same items on the board: date, agenda, and homework. The walls display posters of school procedures such as the High Five Hand Signals, 3 Rs (Respectful, Ready, and Responsible), and Code of Honor. Every classroom has a word wall with the terminology of the class. Every teacher tracks behavior and academics in the room.
High Five + 1: These hand signals allow scholars to communicate their needs without disrupting class. The index finger raised means "I have a question." Two fingers raised means "I need materials." Three means "Restroom break, please." Four = "I know the answer!" and five means "I need attention NOW." Scholars also knock in the air to indicate agreement.
Hallway Transitions: As scholars change classes, teachers monitor them at all times for the safety of our scholars and to minimize disruptions to classes in session. If scholars must wait a few minutes in the hallway, they study (Study Zone) or Drop Everything And Read (DEAR).
Establishing Big Goals: Each subject has at least one quantitative big goal and one qualitative big goal that is ambitious, measurable, and feasible.
Classroom Ambassadors: Scholars take pride in their learning. Anytime a visitor comes to a classroom door, a designated scholar will greet them as the classroom ambassador to introduce himself and describe the day's lesson.
RAFT Projects: Every month scholars complete a creative writing project that culminates their learning in class.
Planned homework and assessments: Every grade level plans out weekly homework assignments and assessments, so scholars and parents know what to expect.
Built-in remediation and intervention: Teachers use real-time data to determine whether a few students need some extra help understanding the lesson, whether the whole class needs to hear the lesson again, or if everyone understands and is ready to move on. Data also guides tutoring schedules, review objectives, and intervention.
This foundation sets the tone for the high expectations for all faculty, and our high behavioral and academic expectations for all scholars.
Nexus Academy uses School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to support our students. Scholars are encouraged to exhibit positive behavior; moreover, scholars learn to monitor their own behavior and actions. As a part of the PBIS model, teachers and administrators acknowledge and celebrate positive student behavior with incentives such as “NSAMS bucks” used to purchase rewards from the school store, dress down uniform-free days, and special events and field trips.