Mastery Program

γένοι᾽ οἷος ἐσσὶ μαθών – Pindar, Pythian 2.72
“Learn and become who you are.”

Mission

As a cornerstone of the Avenues experience, the Mastery program is fueled by one mission: To inspire a world of happier, more meaningful lives through the beautiful engagement of one’s passions. We recognize the power of individuals to motivate others through demonstrations of expert skill and unbridled creativity; we champion the ways in which the honest deployment of our energies can give meaning and purpose to our own lives; and, most importantly, we empower our students with the understanding that when they actively engage these passions, they acquire the ability to shape the world in some positive way.

With this mission in mind, we provide students both time and space during the school day to strive toward the achievement of exceptional skill in a desired domain. Imagine a young historian researching a minor figure from the American Revolution and adding to the academic literature of this period; a team of young scientists working with college professors to harness the power of radio waves in order to charge electronic devices; or a songwriter working with mentors to write and produce her first album. The possibilities are endless in Mastery, and our students’ work is limited only by their imaginations.

The Program

All 9th graders are introduced to the thinking and research that form the foundation of Mastery. Students acquire the tools and language that will equip them both for success as Mastery students and for the academic challenges of their Avenues coursework. Because we believe every student should have an opportunity to discover his or her passion, we work tirelessly with freshmen to help them understand their interests and aptitudes.

Students in grades 10 and 11 may continue their Mastery work, diving deeper in a given area. Students who have already identified a particular interest are invited to imagine themselves as contributing members of this self-selected domain. We ask our students to make a commitment, not to a profession but to a purposeful inquiry in the present that inches them closer to that dream of their future.

Seniors in Mastery examine the philosophy and psychology of creativity as they work toward the completion of a large-scale senior project that will be presented in a public exhibition to the Avenues community and require an oral defense. Robust, experiential learning like this requires both maturity and dedication. We urge our students to push themselves because we have a limitless belief in their capabilities. Mastery is an extraordinary experience that elicits extraordinary work from our students.

Beyond the Classroom, Beyond Avenues

As students continue through the Mastery program, we urge them to seek out formal mentorship opportunities and to take advantage of field experiences in the areas in which they are working. We have built maximum flexibility into the Mastery program so every student can clear a pathway to his or her personal goals.

Finally, as leading colleges and university begin to look for key differentiators in their prospective freshmen, the Mastery program becomes a way students can distinguish themselves from their peers around the world. Graduates from our program exhibit a deep understanding of themselves and of their essential natures, both as learners and as human beings. They have proven their maturity, dedication and focus through the knowledge they have acquired and through the quality of the work they have produced. Is there a better way to show colleges and the world who you really are than through the active engagement of your passions?

Come, help us inspire the world.

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Recent Articles from OPEN, our news and discussion blog

October 11, 2018

The Big App: Here Is New York

by Yumi Nakanishi, Technology Integrator


Last spring, the entire 8th grade participated in an interdisciplinary project called the Big App: Here is New York. Through this project, each student created and published an app that highlighted communities in New York City.  

October 5, 2018

Where Are We and How Do We Get There?

by Spencer Baron, Upper Division Chinese Teacher


Learning to ask and answer directional questions is viewed by some as the most important skill needed to survive abroad. If you lose your way, you need to understand someone when they give you an answer more complex than a finger pointing in a general direction. If applied in context, learning these skills can prove to be quite fun.  

October 3, 2018

Building Dream Classrooms

by Laura Montague, 2nd Grade Teacher


This fall, the 2nd graders in the Jellyfish and Manta Ray classes are building the classroom of their dreams.  

September 28, 2018

Game Design During Fifth Term

by Ron Widelec, Upper Division History Teacher


This past spring, nine students, including a visitor from our new campus in São Paulo, Brazil, signed up to spend a month learning about game design. This course was part of Fifth Term, a period of four weeks during which upper grades students complete group and individual projects on subjects that spark their passion.  

September 20, 2018

HIP Unbound: A Report from Columbia’s Innovative Teaching Summer Institute

by Brady Smith, High Intensity Practice (HIP) Thinking Instructor


At Avenues, we have a tendency to think of high-intensity practice as belonging solely to the HIP Thinking program. However, shifting from HIP Thinking to Face Your Fears made it clear to me how essential the methods we’ve developed in the HIP program can be to helping students quickly develop competency in discipline-based skills as well.  

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