High and keenly understood expectations are crucial ingredients of a great school. What should graduates know? Should they be proficient in a second or third language? If so, which one and why? What skills do students need to build? What values should they embrace? Every school gives questions like these a passing thought, but a great school spends many years defining its expectations, knowing they are the DNA of the institution, the “design specs” of the school. Here are Avenues’ primary educational objectives:
Avenues students will graduate with exceptional academic skills. Reading, the portal to virtually all learning, is the most important subject on which Avenues focuses. Writing well is also emphasized, as good writers have a growing competitive advantage. Finally, one cannot navigate modern life without strong numeracy.
The name Avenues: The World School was carefully chosen. Avenues prepares students for life in a world with continuously fading borders. In São Paulo, this will be achieved in three ways:
a. Avenues pledges to graduate its students with proficiency in at least one other language. Knowing a language is more than a practicality, it is a window into the subtleties of a culture beyond one’s own and a tool that will help graduates navigate worldwide. In São Paulo, we will honor this critical part of our mission by providing a comprehensive language immersion program in English as well as intensive language instruction in English and Portuguese.
b. All Avenues students complete the World Course, a non-western-centric combination of history, geography and world issues. Spiraling from their earliest years and continuing through graduation, students participate in a course of study about the world, one that introduces them early on to key knowledge and concepts and then reinforces and builds upon these as they mature. At an early age, they understand the globe, its major landmasses and bodies of water. Soon enough, regions, countries and key cities emerge from those continents, followed by cultures and languages. History is introduced, not as an endless and mindless set of facts and dates, but as the great interconnected story that it is. And finally, students are introduced to the great possibilities, good and bad, of the future they will live within and shape. The World Course is an integrated synthesis of global geography, history, economics and futurism shaped by leading scholars and reflecting input of outstanding faculty.
c. There is no substitute for feet-on-the-ground experiences abroad. Starting in the middle grades and throughout their school careers, students at Avenues São Paulo will have multiple opportunities to study and travel abroad, including to our campus in New York and to other Avenues campuses as they open. This is not the “educational tourism” found in so many program offerings. Of varying lengths, these programs are highly integrated into Avenues’ World Course. These experiences may include trips during school breaks and holidays, class trips and term- or semester-long study programs. Students will likely accumulate more than a year abroad – with study on multiple continents.
Increasingly, institutions of higher education are looking for students who have a demonstrated area of excellence, whether that is playing the cello, running the 1,500 meters or writing one’s first novel. An Avenues student is exposed to a wide range of knowledge and, starting in the upper grades program, delves deeply into a self-chosen field of learning, whether art, music, sports or history. The Avenues Mastery Program is a concept not often encountered below the college level.
Three important values are universally honored at Avenues. These are welcome, safety and respect. “Welcome” means that every member of our educational community is valued as a person and no one is to be excluded. All members are equal. “Safety” means that both students and faculty have the responsibility to keep each other physically and emotionally safe in all the activities of the school. And “respect” means that we all accord classmates and colleagues the dignity and honor in keeping with being a member of a strong educational community.
Avenues embraces practical matters so often ignored by academic institutions. Across the curriculum, students learn and practice a variety of life skills, with emphasis on practical matters such as time management and technological competency.
At Avenues, sporting opportunities are plentiful and fitness is ubiquitous. All students are expected to develop a personal regimen of exercise by the time they graduate. Diet is a topic best modeled by what occurs in the Avenues dining halls, where healthy and delicious meals are served daily.
Avenues will help place every Avenues student in the right college, university or other institution of higher education. Throughout the world there are many superb higher education programs. Avenues will know them, make sure that they know and respect Avenues graduates and help each student find the best school for his or her goals – whether that is Princeton or USP, British Columbia or Edinburgh, Harvard or Getúlio Vargas.