For the first time in many years, IDEA has exceeded our enrollment goal and now maintains a waiting list for prospective scholars. While we have long stood out as the number one high school in Ward 7 in terms of scholar achievement, we believe what brought more scholars to IDEA this fall is our personal connection with scholars and our consistent commitment to families.
When the pandemic hit last spring, IDEA ensured that every scholar had a Chromebook at home so they could quickly adapt to virtual learning. We worked with families who needed internet assistance. And we began holding weekly online town halls where scholars and parents could ask questions and share concerns. Throughout the summer, staff members rolled around the District on the IDEA bus, stopping at shopping centers and parks to say hello to IDEA scholars and families, meet new friends, and distribute bags of produce and IDEA swag. We recognize the importance of educating and supporting the whole scholar, which means responding to needs outside the classroom. We are honored that the IDEA family puts their trust in us and we continue to work to earn that trust. Please note that we continue to provide free breakfast and lunch for every IDEA scholar. Families may pick up several days worth of meals each Monday and Friday. Click here for details about where and when to get your homemade meals!
What’s new at IDEA this year? Since we are founded on our relational approach, we decided to make that the starting point of our interaction with scholars daily. Building relationships is the heart of our new interactive Pathways program. Every school day for 45 minutes, small groups of scholars come together across grade levels to make connections and collaborate. Led by an interdisciplinary pair of IDEA staff members, Pathways includes elements of team building, social-emotional learning, college and career readiness, and other engaging activities. We realize that all of us do better when we are there for one another, and Pathways is leading our scholars to create lasting, supportive relationships.
Three weeks into this unusual school year, we are pleased to note that attendance has been strong and scholars are engaged in their classes. We appreciate the grace and patience that scholars and families have shown during this transition period. We have already transformed our academic schedule to accommodate the demands of online classes, and are developing personalized schedules for all scholars to ensure they are enrolled in the right courses to meet their needs.
Part of our process for placing scholars in the proper classes is MAP testing, which is underway through the end of September for all scholars who are new to IDEA this year. The data gleaned from MAP assessments helps IDEA tailor intervention and support for all scholars who need it and allows us to track scholar growth from year to year.
In late September, we will announce the details of our plans for in-person scholar support that will begin in October. Rest assured that IDEA will be strictly following the safety protocols we developed this summer, based on public health guidelines. Online parent-teacher conferences will take place October 8, offering a great opportunity for families to meet their scholars’ teachers. Stay tuned for more information.
Finally, scholars will be excited to learn about the upcoming opening of our virtual school store, where they can cash in their principal points for great rewards such as gift certificates to Uber Eats, the Amazon Playstore, and other popular stores. When scholars demonstrate understanding of our Five Guiding Principles, they can earn points to use in the school store.
If you have questions about any of these announcements or any other aspect of school year 2020-2021 at IDEA, we invite you to participate in our weekly online Town Hall meetings, held every Thursday at 6pm via Zoom. You may also share comments or questions through our Padlet, which staff monitor and will respond to as quickly as possible.
I look forward to seeing everyone on screen soon!