What prevents young people from becoming everything they are meant to be? What keeps them from becoming educated and productive citizens? At The Neighborhood Academy, we have identified the heavy and complex burdens that underserved young people bring to school, and have crafted a unique approach to address them:
We have developed a culture of respect and success.
Our faculty and staff deliberately cultivate a school culture that is inviting, familial, safe, and invigorating. Young people, especially those from distressed communities, cannot learn, grow, and thrive in an environment that lacks emotional warmth.
We have zero tolerance for anything that jeopardizes our students.
Our school has zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, bullying, or violence of any kind.
We have a full day filled with both learning and fun.
In order to meet the academic needs of our students, we run a comprehensive school calendar. The average day for our high school students features a full complement of classes, tutorial, advising, after-school arts and athletics, and study hall. During the summer months, our returning students have a six week Summer Session on the campus of Duquesne University, during which they take classes, trips to local cultural institutions, and weekly visits to local and regional colleges and universities. At the end of Summer Session, students take a three day, two night trip to Bethany College in West Virginia, during which they take a seminar (taught by Bethany faculty) worth one college credit. For our middle school students, in addition to classes and an after-school program (with dismissal at 5:00 p.m.), the day is broken up with a mid-day activity, through which our 6th and 7th grade boys experience engaging arts and athletics programs.
We meet the physical, emotional, and psychosocial needs of our students.
Young people cannot learn, grow, and thrive if they feel hungry, unsafe, unloved, or unrecognized. Consequently, some of the most important things we do take place outside the classroom: serving three meals and two snacks every day, individual and group counseling for all students, daily transportation to and from school, and a constant assessment of what may be troubling students both within and outside the classroom.
We support our alumni through college graduation and beyond.
If we want our students to excel in both college and the workplace, it is crucial that we continue to support them once they leave our campus: many first-generation college students lack the support system and know-how enjoyed by peers who come from educated families. Thus, we have a large support system in place for our alumni, including continuous counseling for things such as financial aid, registrar selection, and utilization of campus resources, as well as an Alumni Relations Committee to help alumni find internships and networking opportunities within their chosen field. Whether an alumnus/alumna of The Neighborhood Academy needs help moving into their dorm or finding a paid internship, our dedicated team of staff and volunteers is there to assist them.
We provide structure and high expectations.
We provide structure and high expectations, and all students begin their tutelage at The Neighborhood Academy with a clear message of what is expected from them. Beginning with a two-day orientation at the start of each school year, followed by continuous reinforcement throughout the year, our students learn that we expect them to be honest, work hard, learn from their mistakes, and avoid behavior that is unbecoming of earnest young men and women. These expectations are all set within the framework of a structure geared towards graduation, matriculation to college, and obtainment of a four-year degree. If a young person is expected to succeed and given a clear path to do so, they will strive to meet what is expected of them.
We encourage our students to embrace their spirituality.
We have a deep commitment to serving the spiritual life of our youth and their families. Our curriculum includes the academic study of philosophy, ethics, and world religions at every grade level. While the school does not evangelize or advance any particular faith, we do promote the study of, and respect for, all the world’s great religions. We believe that spiritual development is an essential part of healthy adolescence. We begin every school day with a non-sectarian worship service and encourage our students’ participation in the faith community of their choice.