The clear expectations set forth earlier are empty promises without thoughtful and disciplined execution. A great school must know both what it wants to achieve for its students and how it can do that. Here are the themes that imbue Avenues’ educational operations and affect every aspect of the school:
Instead of relying on a single leader, Avenues São Paulo has a broad leadership team, including a head of school, two division heads (for the Primary and Secondary Divisions), a director of admissions, a head of Brazilian program, a chief administrative and operations officer, a director of teaching and learning and associate heads for every two grades. Though the school head has ultimate accountability for school quality, responsibility is dispersed among a strong core team.
Teachers are the heart of Avenues. What attracts them to Avenues? First, great teachers want to teach in great schools. They look for an exciting and thoughtful educational design. They know the hallmarks of a good educational program and appreciate the careful preparation that has gone into Avenues. Second, teachers care about ongoing professional development, and Avenues São Paulo is particularly advanced in this regard. Third, teachers are drawn to strong school leadership. They want to learn from those who lead them. Fourth, many are attracted to a school where they can advance in their careers (to lead teachers, division heads or even heads of school). With its plan for campuses around the world, Avenues is uniquely competitive in this area. Avenues has brought outstanding teachers from its New York campus to join the São Paulo faculty and in the future, our teachers in São Paulo will have similar opportunities at our campuses around the world. Finally, as set forth in the mission statement, Avenues seeks to align the rewards of teaching more closely with the values it brings to society.
At Avenues, there is a highly developed, coherent, intelligent and responsibly evolving “school design” that lays out the hundreds of important choices that go into the conception and execution of a fine school. Avenues’ design process began years before the opening of our first campus in New York. The creation of that design was a highly collaborative process, and Avenues is committed to maintaining a high degree of fidelity to the design.
Avenues envisions advanced assessment systems not typically seen in private education. The most important of these are not end-of-year tests, but rather real-time, in-class assessments to help teachers monitor the effectiveness of their day-to-day instruction.
Avenues expects students both to learn in a traditional school setting and to take advantage of the power and flexibility of new technology. Students benefit from a rich mix of instructional techniques and lesson formats. Part of the day is spent in traditional classroom settings; other portions are dedicated to project-based work, which students pursue in small groups; and some time is spent pursuing highly individualized learning, often with the aid of technology. This requires a serious commitment to technological infrastructure, which is embedded in the Avenues plan.
Avenues expects students to pursue significant independent study. Support for this approach manifests itself in different architecture (for example, “studio” areas within the school where students can work on their own or in small groups); a different schedule (time during every day for students to pursue their areas of excellence; and faculty support (teachers specially trained to facilitate this educational approach).
As with our campus in New York, students and faculty at Avenues São Paulo have access to a wealth of learning resources in the city beyond the school. São Paulo boasts myriad museums, art galleries, media institutions, universities, scientific centers, airports, green areas and companies in every imaginable sector. All these are classrooms waiting to happen. Moreover, as Avenues continues to open campuses in other locations around the world, students will have the opportunity to make other great cities part of the classroom. One does not have to be in school to be in class.
Because most private schools are single-site institutions, they rely on external sources for the professional development/training of their faculty, providing teachers stipends/funds to attend courses. These programs are not developed with the nuances of a particular school in mind. As Avenues develops its system of campuses, it provides Avenues-specific development programs for its faculty. For example, Avenues art or mathematics teachers from every campus will have the opportunity to come together to share and develop their skills.
A school design should never be finished. Avenues will fund ongoing research and development to ensure increasing quality in its program. Every five to seven years there will be a complete review of Avenues’ design. In between these major design efforts, there will be constant upgrades (such as the adoption of new technologies, new courseware, etc.).