Frequently Asked Questions2018-03-11T19:31:11+00:00


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Common questions and the answers

Q.  Are the classes separated by age group or held as a whole group?

A.  Some classes are taught as whole group, while others are separated by ability level.  Individuals are met where they are and challenged based on their own ability and skill level. Math and Grammar are classes, for example, that are separated by ability level.  Students work in small groups that are often mixed age/grade but similar in ability.  Other classes, such as Writers’ Workshop, Thematic Studies, and Science are taught as a whole group.

Q.  How do you work with mixed age groups?

A.  Students benefit from working with mixed age levels.  The “olders” often take on a role of mentor, while the “youngers” have the advantage of seeing what is possible as they build skill and gain experience.  However, it is also true that during the middle school years, students vary widely and age is not the only factor in terms of ability level.  Students are able to work in higher level classes and receive support in areas where needed at any age within the program.  While the specific assignments are similar for all, the  expectations vary for different age/grade levels.  A student who is a beginning 5th-grade writer might receive the same assignment as a more experienced 8th-grade student, yet there is variance in the aproach to a task and outcome, based on the student’s level of understanding and depth of knowledge.   Therefore, the objectives and expectations are focused on an individual and geared more specifically to a student’s needs at the time.  Because of the low teacher-student ratio, teachers work closely with students and get to know each student well.  This means that each student’s strengths, as well as areas needing support, can be considered and addressed in real time and in an ongoing basis.

Q.  How do students develop socially during their time in such a small setting?

A.  CELC is small by design. The students get to know each other so well that each person becomes very comfortable to be him or herself.  This allows students to let down their guards and express themselves fully, with all of the energy and excitement a young adolescent can have! Therefore, it never feels like we have a small group because everyone is so much a part of the whole experience.  In a larger setting there may be greater numbers of peers, yet in a small setting strong friendships and relationships form and everyone in the group is a valued member of the learning community.  A large amount of time at CELC is spent developing our community through learning to build trust, respect, and care for each member within the group.  This framework guides everything we do; students actively work to find ways to interact that supports one another.  This does not mean that harmony happens all the time.  We spend a lot of time learning to work together.  Students face issues in real time in a way that asks them to be open to supporting and listening to each other in order to grow and build social skills.   CELC is a community that provides a safe place to learn, grow, make mistakes, work together, et cetera,  and this requires continuous commitment.   CELC students often act similarly to how siblings might, and friendships get to a deeper level due to the amount of time people spend getting to know one another.

Q. Where do students go after CELC?

A.  Students attend both public and private high schools of their/family’s choosing.  A broad range of high schools are considered, including local public high schools, The Sound School, Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet, Common Ground High School, Notre Dame High School, Williams School, Hyde School of Health Sciences and Sports Medicine.

Q.  How do CELC students apply to private schools or transfer back into the local public system?

A.  CELC students may apply to private schools by following the standard application guidelines required by individual schools.    For public schools, parents must register a student within the public school system.  Each school district has different requirements.  Students entering both private and public high schools often will need to take placement tests in order to be appropriately placed in Math and/or English.  Depending on the particular school policy, CELC teacher recommendations may be enough to determine placement.  CELC progress reports give detailed information about student progress and are used in the application process.

Q.  How well do CELC graduates do as they move on to high school?

A.  CELC alumni often keep in touch, and at times visit to share their experiences with “life after CELC”.  Students report that they feel very well prepared academically, socially, in being able to advocate for themselves, staying well organized with keeping track of assignments, and in getting involved with clubs and extra-curricular experiences. Students often take higher level classes and receive honors and/or high honors.

If you have other questions, please contact us for more information!

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“Life at CELC is unlike any other school. There is a place for any personality or learner. Through our everyday experiences we build relationships, and we become like a family. We go out into the world together. We work together and grow together. It is the best feeling to feel like you always have a place. You can just be you and find your place at CELC. It doesn’t matter what we are doing — hard and dedicated math, out in the woods, or walking the streets in Washington, D.C. – we always have a place to learn and have fun.”

Hannah, 8th-grade student at CELC