Las Cruces Academy serves students who are advanced or gifted academically by providing academic challenge, individual attention, and a nurturing environment. Our children excel in one or more subjects beyond grade level. Our mission is to guide them toward realization of their full potential intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
We are committed to recruitment of enthusiastic, highly qualified teachers and staff and to small class sizes. A comprehensive curriculum with emphases on math, science, and language includes daily classes of English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to prepare students to effectively engage in an increasingly diverse world. Students are taught according to their ability, not age nor class. Our student-centered curriculum encourages self-directed learning, collaboration, and nurturing of intellectual curiosity and creativity. While in the classroom and at play we provide opportunities for social development and strive to impart the values of honesty, compassion, humility, and leadership.
We believe that all of our students possess gifts and talents. We provide a nurturing, loving and structured environment for our students to gain self-knowledge and self-confidence. Our hope is that they become compassionate people and productive citizens and that they enjoy fulfilling lives.
Our mission statement is about what we do. Here, in presenting our philosophy, we say how we are going to do this, by our careful, well-advised, and vetted choices – how we engage students, their families, our teachers, and the community at large.
We chose to be a private, non-profit school, not a charter school; we are free to set our curriculum and to choose the best, most dedicated and innovative teachers. We are a secular school, unaffiliated with any religion, enabling us to be most inclusive of worldviews.
Our curriculum is flexible, generated by our teachers. We have textbooks for Singapore math, while in other subjects we use our diverse resources – 3,000 of our 7,000 books are on display for students to select; our holdings in art, cultural artifacts, and scientific supplies and equipment are eclectic.
Our students have a full 180 days of instruction. They are not burdened with rampant standardized testing. We have more effective and student-friendly ways of assessing student progress. Homework is given at an appropriate level, neither a make-work burden nor a cursory exercise.
We integrate subjects – math comes up in social studies, English grammar and style come up in every subject. Students contribute to developing the curriculum. They suggest topics in social studies, even in science, expressing their strong interests; teachers are judicious in the extent and manner that they take the curriculum on these suggested tracks. Kindergarteners asked about Egypt, so that our teacher engaged the students with stories, images, and their making a rather large pyramid from simple materials. Students have pursued independent projects, in short and long terms.
We blend both rote instruction that’s key to lifelong skills, particularly in math and in languages, with creative and critical thinking. Students freely generate questions, and they engage in discussions with teachers and with each other to consider difficult issues.
Students do well when they are fresh. Our periods are short, 35 minutes, while we have 55 of them weekly in our long school day; class sessions are interspersed with two breaks, two recesses, and, of course, snack and lunch.
Students do well when their inevitable social and emotional stresses are relieved. We use eye-to-eye conflict resolution as soon as we see conflicts. This technique, developed by the Quakers, is remarkably effective.
In the large, we focus on communication at all levels. Students meet in mixed-age classes. Parents learn about all the academic and social activities in our weekly, and lengthy, newsletter sent by email. The students’ report cards are extensive narratives, giving parents insights into each niche of the students’ progress. The LCA families meet in our LCA Community Meetings several times a year and at the acclaimed end-of-term performances by students each semester. Many of them meet with us and with each other as they drop off and pick up their children during our long hours at the beginning and end of the day (7:30-8:30 AM for drop-off, 4:10-5:30 PM for pickup) – hours that students also use profitably for creative play. As a school we communicate with the Las Cruces community – in public performances, in media outlets, in gatherings of community organizations such as the Green and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and in the visits by individuals and organizations that we welcome.