Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As Logan falls into the rhythm of the new school year, the freshman in the Institute of Community Leaders settle into a different swing of things.
The Institute of Community Leaders, or ICL, which has started out with about one hundred and eighty freshman this year, runs differently from the rest of the school to accommodate its unique mission.
“The two most important things about our program are rigor and support,” said ICL house principle, Jessica Lange.
The program encourages its students to maintain a strong academic focus, and the schedule reflects that. Although the bells at Logan ring according to the main school schedule, ICL runs on a block schedule. Students go to three of their classes one day and the other three the next, allowing them to spend two hours in each period.
The traditional schedule and block schedule running simultaneously at Logan will make for a clear comparison between the two systems, and therefore allow the administrators to decide what is best for the whole school.
“I’m a fan of the block schedule,” Principle Amy McNamara said, “It’s a good pilot and may pave the way for a new schedule in the future.”
In an attempt to make things more organized and a little easier on students, all of the ICL classes are held in the 200s. Students only veer from the small area of campus for P.E and lunch.
In keeping with the theme of academics, students in ICL have a free period every Tuesday and Friday to do work for any of their classes.
McNamara said, “it’s easy to fail because [Logan is] so big.” In the ICL program, failure is not an option. If students cannot or do not get all their homework done, they are referred to the MARS program: mandatory academic review sessions. The program requires students to stay after school and get help from ICL teachers to finish their homework.
ICL also promotes support as one of its basic principles, a theme that is woven throughout the program. As opposed to their counterparts in “freshman families” at Logan, freshman in ICL share all the same teachers instead of only three or four. The intent is to make their experience more uniform. The students will all have the same teachers and work so the can turn to any one of their peers for help.
When peer guidance is not enough however, students in ICL always have adults they can turn to.
“You can’t stand up alone as a kid; you need an advocate,” life skills teacher, Erin Cross explained to a group of attentive parents at last weeks open house. Parent involvement is strongly encouraged as a way to help students lead and succeed until they are able to do so on their own.
Teachers and students develop a familiarity with each other because of the longer periods and smaller group of students. Every student is also assigned an adviser, one of the six teachers in the program. The ICL students can view their adviser as another counselor; someone to turn to with academic issues, or problems in their everyday lives as they grapple with the new world of high school.
The teachers, parents, and students in the Institute of Community Leaders are not afraid to do things a little differently in the interest of rigor and support. So far everything is running smoothly, and as students in the ICL continue to learn and grow, the results will speak for themselves.