Academics

Academic Philosophy

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Our curriculum in the Las Cruces Academy is designed around the needs and abilities of advanced and motivated students.  These students need stimulation and presentation of materials that challenge them.  At the Academy the students are in small classes (average size, 10), so their needs can be easily be assessed and then met. Each student gets an individualized schedule. We know that any one student’s academic giftedness varies widely by subject, from low to high. We choose a level in each class to match (and stretch) the student’s ability, not by age.

Our teachers are experts and we give them academic freedom to develop their own curriculum within their subject. Students thrive in small classes, at an average of 10 in a class. Our students, free from the current pressure of standardized testing, spend their time in creative study. They are diverse in national origins, creeds, and socioeconomic groups, and they learn about each others’ cultures.

 

Curriculum Overview

See more details on our Curriculum page

Our curriculum in the large resembles the International Baccalaureate. Students in K-8 learn three languages – English, Spanish, and Chinese, which span the world. We emphasize science and math, using Singapore math as an international standard which has seen great success. Our teachers hold advanced degrees and wide experience in their careers, and collectively have been to over 40 nations; accomplished career scientists teach the sciences and technology. We cover a full range of other subjects – social studies, physical education, art, music. In early K-K, students learn phonics, spelling, and grammar along with math, science, and languages (K). There are several specialty classes for older students, such as computer programming, Chinese history, and geography; these vary between academic years, with a new set of courses, World Culture, originated in the Fall 2021 academic year. We are one of the rare schools teaching cursive handwriting, from early K onward, along with touch-typing in grades 3-8. Many special projects develop in classes. In our special middle-school curriculum, students designed, constructed, programmed (in Python), and made audio content for a periodic table of the chemical elements. Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of academically enriching clubs – engineering, theater, and math.

Students learn to grow socially and emotionally. They cooperate in creating twice-yearly performances in song, dance, and plays at the school, as well as in public venues such as City Hall, the Confucius Institute, and the International Festival.

Our academic activities and events are summarized every week in our detailed newsletter sent to families. We have a sample newsletter from 2014, anonymized, as a PDF (note: it’s 2.8 MB), and another from 2021 (only 37 kB, no images). Student report cards are narrative in form, with concise summaries of what was covered in each subject and of the student’s strengths and areas needing work. The sample report card from 2014, also anonymized (also 2.8 MB as a PDF), shows how effectively we inform parents of the progress being made by the children they entrust to us. We have a new format for the report cards in 2021-22; we’ll have a sample posted soon.

We also do outreach to the community.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our students and teachers performed in publice venues, often for sharing our Chinese program.  We anticipate a performance at the Branigan Cultural Center in downtown Las Cruces in February, 2022.  Board Chair and teacher Vince Gutschick continues the weekly short podcast for our local NPR radio station, KRWG, that he began in December, 2018. The podcasts are archived at the link above and are aired every Tuesday at 8:45 AM and 6:45 PM. We also have the website lcaoutreach.org, on which there are two major sections, on international travel and an extensive analysis of the habitability of planets, a hot topic in science and in the public eye.