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Voyager - A Public Charter School
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ABOUT VOYAGER PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL Improving Education in Hawai'i
Voyager is designed to be an incubator for systemic change throughout the education system of Hawai'i. Voyager was created to introduce, test and demonstrate methods of learning that have proven to be effective in accelerating learning. Voyager School is the first school to combine these three methodologies in one program. By successfully demonstrating these approaches and methods with a diverse group of students, Voyager can free other schools in Hawaii to utilize them with confidence of success. Voyager aims to prove that high performance is possible; thereby raising the bar of what is possible and expected in the whole system. Resources utilized by Voyager thus will be used both to benefit its students and to return an even greater benefit to the community.
In 2002, the Voyager Foundation was established as the non-profit entity that provides support to Voyager School. The goal of the foundation is to assist Voyager School in its mission to "raise the bar of public education" in Hawai'i.
Extensive and rigorous staff development is central to the success of Voyager. To the greatest extent possible and practical, Voyager offers opportunities for teachers from partner schools and other schools, charter and non-charter, to participate.
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are privately managed, nonsectarian, public schools that are freed from many of the regulations applied to conventional schools. Charter schools enjoy increased autonomy in exchange for meeting contractually defined goals. The charter that establishes and governs each school is actually a performance contract describing the school’s mission, its programs, goals, the students served, and the methods used to measure success. Charter schools are accountable to their sponsor‚ usually a state or local school board‚ to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. The school management is accountable for both academic results and fiscal practices to the school’s sponsor, the parents who choose them, and the general public.
How is Voyager Different?
Voyager offers a unique opportunity for any student to develop their abilities to:
- Embrace learning as a lifelong process
- Learn how to learn
- Be responsible for their own learning
- Understand what it means to be a human being and to work together with others
- Engage in complex thinking and problem solving
- Recognize and produce quality performance and results
- Become contributors to their community and to the world
Board of Directors
Our Board is made up of highly committed community leaders who are active in making sure the school has all it needs to function at the highest levels. Board members were instrumental in securing the new location.
THE VOYAGER DIFFERENCE Non-traditional Curriculum
At Voyager, teachers create learning experiences around the State content standards weaving together activities that address multiple kinds of learning. The school emphasizes hands-on learning and recognizes hat children often learn better by moving and doing, rather than traditional paper-pencil tasks. Use of textbooks and pre-printed material is limited.
Students Are Responsible for Their Own Learning
From their very early school experience in kindergarten, student sat Voyager are guided to set goals for themselves, reflect on their work, and give feedback to each other and to the teacher. From the beginning they are involved in problem solving and data collection. Children are often limited in their growth by teachers or adults who want to rescue or do things for them. At Voyager, our role as supporting adults is to nurture, support, and convey to them that, as unique human beings they are capable and competent.
Children are placed in multi-age learning teams based on formal and informal assessment of skills, developmental needs, and class groupings. Different ages and ability levels are together in the same classroom providing increased opportunity for cooperative learning and cross-age tutoring. Students may stay with the same teacher for 2 years providing a seamless continuum of learning. In a multi-age learning environment age and achievement differences are accepted as normal thereby creating a non-judgmental, supportive community.
Alternative Method of Evaluating and Sharing Learning
At the end of every trimester, narrative reports are sent home in preparation for the main part of the evaluation process: the student-led conference. These are mandatory sessions where parent participation is critical. The conference is an opportunity for children to share his/her learning, reflect on the progress of the trimester and discuss and plan for the upcoming learning period. This process puts the child at the center of his/her learning and again sends the clear message that they are competent and capable!
Community Learning Experiences
Based on Voyager’s belief that children learn best by doing, many out-of-classroom experiences are planned to augment the curriculum. These excursions (which are traditionally referred to as "field trips") are not optional and provide experiences in a more natural setting, expanding the learning beyond the classroom. Different skills are developed through these experiences and are a key component of the curriculum.
Unity in Diversity
At Voyager, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our families and believe that learning to accept different ways of thinking and different viewpoints is a life skill that is critical to the full development of a child. By learning to go beyond tolerance to acceptance our students begin to see how, although we are each different, we are interrelated and interdependent to one another.
Parent Participation and Commitment to the Voyager Vision
The vision of Voyager is to "become a role model that leads the transformation of education in Hawaii and the nation". We expect parents to partner with us for the benefit of their child’s growth and learning by:
- Preparing students for optimal learning by seeing that they get a goodnight’s rest (young ones require 10-12 hours of sleep per night) and have a healthy breakfast.
- Supporting the school’s homework philosophy by providing support to their child in completing nightly homework assignments and assignments during intersessions or breaks.
- Maintaining close contact with their child’s teacher.
- Participating in conferences, meetings, school events, and classroom activities.
- Donating resources and time to fundraising activities.
- Following school rules.
- Providing regular feedback about our program and their child’s learning through surveys, information sessions, and informal conversations.
Voyager Public Charter School is a school of choice. The philosophy and learning methodologies were set forth in the original plan to the Board of Education in 2000. When a family chooses to become a part of our learning community they are joining, not just because "it is better than my neighborhood school", but because they understand the various aspects of the Voyager program and desire that kind of learning experience for their child
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