Thank you for your interest in our Founding Class Program at Avenues Silicon Valley! We’ve compiled this list of frequently asked questions and encourage you to read through the responses to better understand our unique approach to education.
If you have any further questions, we encourage you to reach out to our admissions team or join us at an upcoming event.
What is interdisciplinary learning?
By encouraging students to think across, rather than within, traditional academic disciplines, interdisciplinary study invites them to practice the expansive thinking necessary to formulate solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Interdisciplinary study is so thoroughly infused in our curriculum that it’s sometimes hard to discern. For example, it might be an advanced seminar that integrates insights from history, philosophy and economics to ask hard questions about technology, society and humanity. In all cases, students are so absorbed in their learning that disciplinary boundaries fall away and their intrinsic motivation—to solve, to ask, to create—takes over.
At Avenues interdisciplinary learning is woven into our curriculum and we build our schedule around collaborative project blocks where science, social studies, arts, and English teachers are all available to plan and execute projects that have real impact.
An example of interdisciplinary learning at Avenues can be found here.
How does student assessment work? Do students receive grades?
Students are assessed based on the Avenues World Elements (AWE) . They receive ongoing feedback during each unit so they can monitor their progress. We encourage iteration and growth by allowing students to resubmit work that they want to improve after receiving teacher feedback.
While we have a very innovative approach to curriculum and instruction, our report card looks very similar to other schools so that colleges, camps and scholarship programs can all interpret our report cards in a way that is favorable to our students.
At the end of each grading period students in 8th grade and up will receive a letter grade in specific subject areas that are integrated into our projects; English, World Course (Social Studies), Integrated Science and Art and Design.
For more on how outcomes are linked back to project-based learning, here’s a sample reporting map for a 9th grade unit.
How does Avenues balance academic rigor with social-emotional learning?
At Avenues we believe that academic rigor and student wellbeing go hand in hand. Our project-based approach is not only intellectually challenging, but also engaging and empowering for our learners. That means that students gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their coursework. That stands in stark contrast to most "rigorous" programs that confuse volume with challenge. In addition to our academic program promoting student wellbeing, we also have a rich SEL program through our mentorship and deans programs.
What sort of accreditation is planned for the school and in what time frame?
Our campuses in NY, São Paulo and Online are fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and our campus in Shenzhen is in the process of acquiring accreditation. As a school located in California, we are currently going through the process of accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). We anticipate having initial accreditation by the fall of 2023. Eventually we will receive dual accreditation from both WASC and NEASC.
What does math instruction look like at Avenues?
Avenues offers a rigorous, problem-based mathematics curriculum modeled on a pedagogical approach and materials developed at Phillips Exeter Academy. Our discussion and problem-based approach to mathematics emphasizes collaboration and communication, encouraging students to take active ownership of their learning. This integrated math program allows students to develop deep mathematical understanding and prepares them for post-secondary study in whatever field they may pursue from scientific, mathematical and engineering areas to social sciences, humanities and the arts. All students develop an appreciation of both the practical application of mathematical thinking and the beauty of mathematics as a source of reasoning.
Students with exceptional talent may apply to our highly selective Institute for Advanced Mathematics.
Peek inside a math class at Avenues New York:
What is the Institute for Advanced Mathematics?
The Avenues Institute for Advanced Mathematics offers a path of advanced study in mathematics for select high school students at Avenues campuses around the world. Students learn from a combination of independent research, peer group discussion, hands-on projects, and the constant construction of mathematical models, while examining major mathematical breakthroughs from 17,000 BCE to the present day. This selective program allows students who are truly advanced in mathematics an alternative pathway that truly meets their unique needs. Students may apply starting in grade 9 by submitting an application that includes a task-based problem and an essay
What is the Avenues approach to world language education?
Learning multiple languages is fundamental to the Avenues mission of graduating students who are “at ease beyond their borders; truly fluent in a second language; and good writers and speakers one and all.” Our approach to language learning fosters students' communicative competence while simultaneously deepening their understanding of new cultures, global trends and the wider world. In the early years, students study part of their day in either Mandarin or Spanish in our immersion program. In 6th grade, students transition into intensive study of their chosen language. Students are placed in levels based on their proficiency in either Mandarin or Spanish; introductory courses are offered for those with no prior experience. Opportunity to deepen language proficiency is augmented through clubs, extracurriculars and international programs. Students may opt to study an additional world language through our Global Passport program for an additional fee.
What is the day-to-day expectation in terms of homework?
Students are engaged in deep learning during the school day for eight hours. The expectation is that homework helps prepare them for the next day, serves as practice or may involve completing an important project or preparing for a showcase. Students in grades 6-8 have an average of about an hour of homework while students in grades 9-10 have about 90 minutes of homework. We encourage students to keep track of the time they spend on homework and stop if it exceeds those parameters. We also work with students and families to ensure that homework time is focused, fruitful and free of leisure time tech distractions. We strongly believe that students need to live balanced lives and that they should be able to pursue their own interests and spend time with family and friends without stress and anxiety about completing school work.
What electives do you offer?
Students have the opportunity to take either campus-based electives or global electives at Avenues Silicon Valley. Middle grades students have the option of taking either campus-based semester-long electives that meet twice weekly for 45 minutes within the regular rotation of the student schedule, or one year-long global elective that is delivered online through the tutorial model. Students who enroll in a global elective will have time within their schedule to work on these courses independently and to meet one-on-one with an online course instructor. Upper grade students have the option of taking either campus-based year-long electives that meet twice weekly for 90 minutes within the regular rotation of the student schedule, or one year-long global elective that is delivered online through the tutorial model. Students who enroll in a global elective will have time within their schedule to work on these courses independently and to meet one-on-one with an online course instructor. Students may take one campus-based elective OR one global elective in a given school year.
A link to our Elective Course Guide for the 2023—24 school year can be found here.
What kinds of advanced coursework do you offer?
Starting in 10th grade students have access to advanced elective offerings. In the fall 2023, we will offer two advanced courses: Advanced Physics and Advanced Humanities: The Global Impact of the Cold War. Each year we will add to our advanced courses with offerings in Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Economics and History.
What after-school activities do you offer?
For the 2023-24 school year, our after school program will offer a balance of activities in three main areas: sports, the arts and extended learning. There will be after school activities available Monday through Thursday from 3:30-5:00.
Sports: We anticipate offering one competitive sport each season as we have already been approved as members of the Central Coast Section sports league. Together with newly hired Athletic Director, Shaun Burl, we will be determining which sports will be chosen. We anticipate those sports being ones which do not require large teams like: Cross Country, Golf, Tennis and Volleyball. In addition, we will offer intramural sports based on student interest that will be available to all students,
Performing Arts: We plan to offer some performing arts opportunities after school that will be determined by student interest. Options could include: Choir, Rock Band and Drama.
Extended Learning: We will have options that allow students to extend learning in areas of personal interest in clubs such as: debate, robotics, chess, community service, etc. The student led clubs will give students opportunities to choose their interests and build a legacy for the Silicon Valley campus.
Registration for the after school program will take place in the fall.
As we move to our permanent campus in 2024-25 and launch our full campus, the after school program will expand substantially.
What is Mastery?
The Mastery Program guides each student to identify and explore a personal interest with the goal of achieving mastery in that domain. In this journey, students autonomously determine the focus of their learning pathway by setting their own goals, tracking progress, seeking out feedback, and partnering with mentors as they develop and showcase their projects.
Students in Mastery Workshop may choose to work independently or in small teams on long-term interests whatever that may be: social innovation & entrepreneurship; humanities and literary arts; performing arts; science and math; sports; technology and engineering or visual arts.
Hear directly from our students about their experience in the Mastery program:
What does a typical week look like in the Founding Class Program ?
Our school day runs from 8:30-3:30 with after school programming available Monday-Thursday until 5:00. Our daily schedule provides the right balance for extended time each day in project block and then discreet short periods of time for Math, Modern Language, Wellness and Movement, Electives, and Mentorship.
We dedicate Wednesdays to Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELOs) when we extend our learning off campus.
A sample schedule showcasing how we structure our days can be found here — and peek into a day in the life of an Avenues Silicon Valley student during our Founding Class Program
How do you prepare students for external assessments?
Students take the International Schools Assessment (ISA) once a year in grades 3-10. The ISA assesses students in the areas of language arts and math. We use this international assessment that is aligned with the global PISA results to measure our progress as a school in meeting internationally benchmarked outcomes. The ISA is not used to determine an individual student’s achievement.
In grade 10, students take a practice SAT and ACT in order to gain exposure to both standardized test options. In grade 11, students will take the PSAT exam.
What opportunities do students have for learning outside the classroom?
Our schedule is designed to provide weekly opportunities for students to participate in experiential learning outside of the classroom. This can take the form of a field trip to an aviation museum, a local research center or to work with a community partner; and, sometimes, this takes the form of a hosted guest, like, experts from the field guiding students through demonstrations and specialized presentations.
What opportunities do students have to collaborate with students from other Avenues campuses?
In the Lower Division, each of our project units is directly connected to one taught at another Avenues campus. This provides a natural opportunity for our students to be leveraged as experts or mentored as beginners by our global peers. Thanks to technology and a global curriculum, we participate regularly with other Avenues campuses in project showcases, literature discussion circles, and global assemblies. In the Upper Division, students regularly interact with students at other campuses who are engaged in the same interdisciplinary project unit. They often share ideas and give each other feedback on their projects. J-Term is another opportunity for students to collaborate on Co.Lab projects across campuses (see below).
What is “J-Term?”
J-Terms are two terms that happen each year—one in January and one in June—during which our ecosystem of Avenues campuses around the world offer immersive, signature learning experiences through globally-coordinated programming.
During J-Term, we live our vision of being a world school: one school with many campuses. Families have the opportunity to join another campus for the term, welcome families from other campuses to their home campus or have students travel alongside peers from other campuses in Global Journeys. J-Term presents a unique opportunity for our students to connect with their peers and Avenues faculty around the world in learning that transcends the walls of the school.
Learn more about J-Term at Avenues in this video clip from our first, inaugural J-Term.
Wellbeing & Belonging
How does Avenues foster student wellbeing and social-emotional learning?
Social emotional learning is an integral part of our curriculum. Every member of our staff is dedicated to building strong relationships with each one of our students, and to appreciating and cultivating their strengths and interests. Whether in our Wellness and Movement (WAM) program that focuses on both physical and mental health, or through our Deans program and mentorship opportunities, Avenues students develop the resilience, self-awareness and interpersonal skills necessary to thrive in school and beyond.
Learn more about how we prioritize social-emotional learning (SEL) in this short video featuring our Head of School in conversation with SEL expert Denise Pope.
How do you bring your principles of Welcome, Safety & Respect to life?
Every interaction at Avenues is guided by our principles of Welcome, Safety & Respect:
- Welcome means that we behave inclusively, making all members of the school community and guests feel comfortable and at home.
- Safety means that every member of our school community is committed to fostering the psychological, physical and emotional safety of each other and we are mindful of the well-being of our community, at all times.
- Respect means that all members of the Avenues community regard one another as partners in a common enterprise, recognizing each person’s dignity, worth and contribution.
What is your approach to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)?
In our mission statement, we pledge to graduate students who are at “ease beyond their borders;” that is, students who have the cultural competencies necessary to engage with and serve in communities other than their own. Whether those borders are defined by race, culture, physical ability, socioeconomic background, gender, sexual orientation or any other measures of identity, Avenues equips its students to connect across differences and embrace access for all—both in and out of the classroom.
Learn more about the importance of DEI at Avenues via this conversation between our Head of School (who previously served as the Head of School for Avenues Online) and our Global Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
How do you cater to students with learning differences?
We believe that all students benefit from understanding themselves as learners and that teachers are most successful when they understand the strengths and areas for growth of all students. With the support of their dean, each student develops an Avenues Learning Plan (ALP) that speaks to and outlines the student’s goals for the unit, semester or year. In addition to supportive teachers and deans, students receive the support of our learning specialist.
What is your Deans Program?
Deans at Avenues are full-time advisors, mentors and advocates whose focus is the social-emotional wellbeing and academic success of their students. Deans also work closely with faculty and act as the point person between the school and a student’s family. Students are paired with the same dean for grades 6–7, 8–9, and 10–11, and their deans are well-versed in the specific developmental milestones of the age groups they support. Starting in 10th grade, students are supported by deans that are also experts in the college admission process.
Learn more about the Deans Program at Avenues in this interview with our Director of Student Wellbeing and College Counseling, Tamar Adegbile.
How do students interact with mentors at Avenues?
Our academic schedule reflects the importance we place on wellbeing and mentorship. Mentors have regular meetings with small groups of students in “mentorship” while deans have regular larger grade level group meetings and one-on-one meetings with individual students.
In grades 6—7, deans and mentors focus on skills such as organizational skills and time management. They emphasize group dynamics and social interactions, and help students develop strength through empathy and community. They also focus on health and wellness through human sexuality education.
In grades 8—9, deans and mentors help students understand the high school transcript and the “permanent academic record,” and encourage future-focused decisions. They continue to focus on health and wellness by discussing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD), sexual health, and help students develop self-advocacy skills.
In grades 10—12, deans and mentors continue to support academic progress with a view to the student’s post-secondary plans and guide students to think in terms of legacy and “finishing well.”
How do you prepare students for college and life after graduation?
An Avenues education is uniquely and intentionally designed to develop future world-wise leaders through immersion, interdisciplinary learning, inquiry and mastery. Learning a second language is a daily practice that transforms the way students see and think about the world. Interdisciplinary study invites students to practice the expansive thinking necessary to formulate solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Inquiry is fundamental to the learning and the growth of human civilization, and it happens in every classroom and at every grade level at Avenues. Through the Mastery Program, we provide Upper Division (grades 6–12) students with the space, time and resources to first identify and then pursue that passion in depth and over multiple years. Mastery empowers students to develop exceptional knowledge and skills—often at levels not experienced until college or beyond—in a field of their choosing.
Starting in 10th grade, students are supported by deans that are also experts in the college admission process. In one-on-one and group meetings, deans advise students about all post-secondary options and guide students through the application process considering fit to program, creation of a personal narrative, and relationships with teachers.
Learn more about college counseling at Avenues, including an inside look at the 200+ colleges our global Avenues graduates have attended, here.
What is your approach to Wellness and Movement?
At Avenues, we believe that physical movement is an essential part of wellbeing. We also offer wellness classes that cover a variety of health topics including positive psychology, sexual health, consent, nutrition and mindfulness.
What safeguards do you have in place for health, safety and security?
Our community values of Welcome, Safety & Respect define not only the way we treat each other as individuals, they also inform our approach to the health, safety and security of our campus as a whole. From maintaining a clean and secure classroom environment for our students, to keeping our students and faculty safe and healthy during a global pandemic, we take a community-centered approach to campus operations across all our campuses.
While maintaining a warm and welcoming environment, our dedicated security team also ensures the safety and security of our campus community by closely monitoring access. Our campus includes secure drop-off and pick-up areas, staffed for student safety.
What transportation options do you offer for students?
While we know many families will likely drive their child to campus or carpool with a classmate, we also offer options for families who need transportation to school. These options will expand to include bus and shuttle routes in the 2024-2025 school year when we will be at our permanent location at 570 Meridian in San Jose. For the 2023-2024 school year, while we are housed at Mission College, we are offering two options:
Door-to-Door Carpool Rideshare
Avenues partners with HopSkipDrive, a safe, tech-enabled transportation solution specially designed for children ages six and up. HopSkipDrive rides are driven by CareDrivers, each of whom has over five years of caregiving experience and has passed a 15-point certification process. With HopSkipDrive, both parents and designated Avenues’ staff will have real-time visibility into each stage of the ride. Carpool routes will be built out by Avenues staff, on the HopSkipDrive rider platform, and will be based on student home locations. Each carpool will carry 2-4 Avenues students. This option is being offered at a reduced fee while we remain at Mission College for the 2023-2024 school year, as we have not yet launched our full transportation program.
Avenues will pay for students to use public transportation via Caltrain or VTA. Additionally, we will work with HopSkipDrive to provide a free carpool from the station to campus and back again. We will work closely with families to coordinate train and carpool schedules to ensure students arrive at school on time.
What is your catering program and how do you meet the needs of children with dietary restrictions?
At Avenues, the meals we serve each day are nutrient-rich, delicious and culturally diverse. We want all students to develop agency in their meal decisions while developing a positive relationship with food. As one school with many campuses, we strive to expose students to global cuisine and serve a variety of international dishes. We also aim to minimize our ecological impact and carbon footprint by choosing local and seasonal produce, where feasible.
Our food program seeks to minimize the risk of allergic reactions by avoiding some ingredients and clearly communicating when others are used. Nuts and shellfish are never used. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are offered daily and healthy snacks are also available throughout the day,
Where will you be located for the 2023—2024 school year?
In 2023-24 we will host our program at our Innovation Labs at Mission College. We are fortunate to have our own quad with 10 classrooms that house our 4th-10th grade students. In addition to the spaces that we have renovated to align with our creative spirit, we also have access to state of the art facilities such as science labs, dance and fitness studios, athletic fields and tennis courts. In 2024 we will move to our Meridian campus and be open for all grade levels from Toddlers-12th grade.
What is your dress code/style guide?
Our style guide is meant to be simple to follow while reinforcing a sense of belonging by making our students easily recognizable to one another and other members of our community.
- Students may wear solid color gray, white, blue or black clothing from any source.
- We ask that there be no words, brands, images or logos prominently visible unless it is official Avenues branding and logos.
- Shoes should be safe for the stairs and surfaces in school.
- We ask that students exhibit sensitivity to differences in economic circumstances in their choice of shoes and accessories as well as clothing.
- Athletic clothing and sneakers are required for our Wellness & Movement classes. Clothing may be gray, white, blue or black.
Families are welcome to purchase clothing that meets our style guide at any vendor of their choice. We also have an online school store offering an array of Avenues-approved items for students across divisions.