At SLAM, we believe in: (1) Setting rigorous expectations for all; (2) Providing relevant and meaningful learning opportunities; (3) Engaging students in the learning process by leveraging their love of sports; and, (4) Providing opportunities for genuine relationships among students, teachers, families, and the community.

Our core values are founded on: (1) Equity; (2) Innovation; (3) Teamwork; and (4) Communication. We aim to create a culture of “teamwork” amongst all stakeholders in an environment where students are inspired to learn, teachers are empowered to teach and parents and families are an active part of the school community. The system employs the following initiatives which uphold a system-wide culture that promotes our core values in and out of the classroom:

  1. Equity

    SLAM provides a consistent standards-based curriculum for all students delivered through quality instruction, and high expectations for all in alignment with our mission. The content is rigorous and based on the expectation that all students can achieve high standards if given stimulating opportunities and differentiated instructional support.

    To create a culture that is supportive of all students, the leadership places great emphasis on teacher training and support. Teachers are trained to use varying instructional strategies to address diverse learning styles so that all students can benefit from the curriculum, including students who enter the school below grade level. In planning for instruction, schools are expected to set high expectations for students and be mindful of the individual needs, interests and abilities of all students. The goal is to structure their classrooms, plan lessons, design learning activities and provide accommodations with the intention and purpose of meeting the needs of every student. Students with disabilities have equal access to the curriculum just as non-disabled peers. Beyond differentiated instructional strategies to meet the varying levels of our students, English learners have the same access to courses and instruction as English speakers.

  2. Innovation

    As part of our unique educational program, SLAM upholds a positive culture through the following innovations:

    Engaging Curriculum: Our curriculum connects students, teachers, and families through a shared language and framework based on developing an academic mindset, social-emotional growth, character development, a positive school climate, and physical fitness. Research conducted by Gallup suggests that there is a direct correlation between student engagement and academic success.[2] According to a Gallup Student Poll, which surveyed over 900,000 nationally, in fifth grade, 75% of students feel involved in and enthusiastic about school, but by 11th grade, the same is true for only about one-third of students.[3] By leveraging students’ love for sports, SLAM provides a rigorous standards-based curriculum that makes learning meaningful and relevant; ultimately increasing student-engagement.

    Sports-Themed Program: Our schools integrate sports-related themes into a rigorous standards-based curriculum to create a learning environment that motivates, interests and engages students in learning. SLAM is not about playing sports, it is about connecting sports to the many industries and careers related to the sports industry.

    Sports-themed programs have proven effective in making education relevant to student learning. Athletes have proven to be role models for many children who lack role models at home. According to Diversity Inc., all but one professional sports league is comprised of at least 50% minority groups.[4] Providing positive role models and making learning relevant leads to increased student performance, increased graduation rates and helps to close the achievement gap.

    SLAM partners with both collegiate and professional sports teams and related franchises in order to expose our students to the myriad of sports related careers that exist. These partnerships also pave the way for our students to establish positive relationships with community members leading to internships and future jobs.

    Career Academies: At SLAM, we are proving that “career academies are the most durable and best-tested component of reform strategy to prepare students for college and careers.”[5] While there is no single definition for career academies, there are three key elements that support their impact on student engagement at the high school level:

    • small learning communities;
    • college-preparatory curriculum with a career theme; and
    • partnerships with employers.

    SLAM students in grades 6 -12 prepare for post-secondary careers through academies in:

    • Sports Medicine
    • Sports Broadcasting
    • Sports Marketing, Entertainment Arts and Management

    Our career academies provide an avenue to a more supportive high school environment. They increase students’ exposure to career awareness and work-based learning activities. Through our career academies, we increase overall school engagement and help students acquire the credentials they need to graduate and be prepared for post-secondary education and future careers.

  3. Teamwork and Communication

    We cultivate a positive culture for all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents and community) by:

    Building Relationships: Educators and instructional leaders forge quality relationships with students and parents. Staff-student relationships influence everything—from the social climate to the individual performances of students. When students feel liked and respected by their teachers, and when parental involvement is encouraged, students will achieve success in school, academically and behaviorally.

    Mentorship: Upperclassmen have opportunities to mentor lower grade students. The goal is to foster positive relationships and provide for a smooth transition from elementary and middle school to high school...Read More

    Teaching Essential Social Skills: Educators and instructional leaders are expected to teach appropriate social-emotional behaviors (e.g., how to share, how to listen to others, how to disagree respectfully). The goal is that students successfully explore adult roles such as employee, co-worker/colleague, and responsible citizen of a global community.

    Building Consistency and Buy-In: Every classroom environment contributes to SLAM’s culture. Each school develops consistent school rules and ways of defining and meeting student behavior. When students believe that the rules are equitable fair and consistently enforced, they are more likely to trust the process and uphold the rules.

    We also foster an environment that allows educators to take ownership of the curriculum and make important pedagogical decisions. To do so, schools provide time for common planning for teachers by subject area/grade level in order to foster and strengthen communication and promote positive collegial relationships.

    Serving as Role Models: At SLAM, students learn by observing just as they learn by doing. Observing the actions of others influences how students respond to their environment and cope with unfamiliar situations. Educators and instructional leaders are thereby held to the highest expectations for appropriate behavior and professionalism.

    Teaching Problem-solving: Problems will always come up in and out of school. Students are much more likely to recognize and resolve conflicts appropriately when they are taught “how” to do so. Problem- solving can also be used retrospectively to help students make better decisions in the future. Educators and instructional leaders teach problem-solving skills throughout SLAM’s curriculum to produce positive attitudes towards learning, encourage higher order thinking, flexibility, creativity and reinforce cooperation amongst peers.

    Fostering Positive Parental and Community Involvement: Parental and community involvement is a fundamental aspect of our organization. Schools engage parents by encouraging them to be active participants in their children’s education through volunteer opportunities at the school. Schools reach out to parents and the community through websites, social media accounts, monthly newsletters, and event calendars which are updated monthly to disseminate information and maintain open lines of communication. The schools also use workshops, parent meetings, open houses and email blasts to inform parents of involvement opportunities at the school throughout the school year.

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