K-12 school system is the most common education model in America developed in 1852. The system begins at kindergarten level to grade twelve. Within the educational structure, as the child develops, he/she is exposed to different forms of educative activities that shape his/her understanding of basic concepts depending on the level. As a matter of fact, the program includes numerous stages through which the student is transformed from childhood, as he/she develops to grade 12 (Kirst & Venezia, 2004). The American government stipulated this particular education system as an authentic step and fundamental undertaking in its educational prospects. As a result of this, there are very many schools (public and private) offering the K-12 school system. In fact, each of the schools is evaluated with respect to essential stipulations dictated by the government to define the system. Therefore, each school in operation must demonstrate, to a capacity the government deems sufficient, the various standards. School is a compulsory activity for all children.
Fundamentally, the school must have a detailed school’s vision and mission (that is relevant to the educational objective of the government), a governing structure, formal curricula (most likely provided by the government through its ministry of education), professional development program, well defined relationship with the surrounding community as well as well established hiring practices and disciplinary policies (Cohen, 1995). Essentially, the school should display a strong correlation between social class and academic achievements. This means that the school must have an environment that creates room for nurturing good social backgrounds as the student simultaneously gains academic exposure. This is so because social links have great influences on the competitive nature of the academic curriculum. This particular model demonstrates all these aspects in divergent educative spheres.
St. Grace School’s Vision and Mission
St. Grace School visualizes the nurtured state of a student after passing through its educative levels (Elmore, 2007). The school’s vision with respect to this is to create an American society with learned individuals and competent youth force. It not only covers the educative concepts learnt in class but also the social prospects of both co-curricular and curricular activities. Each aspect included in the K-12 school system has a social and academic significance. Fundamentally, the school’s mission is defined by the extent to which it transforms a student from kindergarten after which the student has a chance to make a choice on what field to major on. With respect to the American societies, the K-12 school system covers a wider age group and has something to offer at each level. St. Grace School develops its vision from the significance of education to young Americans as well as the social and ethical expectations of educational facilities in America.
St. Grace School’s mission is to provide a conducive, comfortable, and official environment for learning for students of diverse age groups and from different backgrounds. Given that the K-12 school system starts from kindergarten, the school has a structural system that is age and level sensitive. Most importantly, the school takes particular interest in solving social and academic yearnings of students. Additionally, St. Grace School aims to nurture a child from early stages of development towards a level he/she can realize her potential, talent and academic prowess for a better future. Moreover, the school’s social setup with the community links the society, the students, and the school in pursuing a common goal, acceptable and stipulated by all. Furthermore, the school displays and observes the government’s objectives (through governance like academic calendars and curricular) from the ministry of education on which the school runs.
St. Grace School Governing Structure
The United States takes particular interest in the governance of K-12 schools as they influence the quality of output. St. Grace School has a compact governance system in which every stakeholder has a well-defined responsibility. As a matter of fact, every organizational structure must have a governing structure which follows the formulation of policies and tracks their implementation. In this context, the school has a board of governors who decide on delicate matters that involve students in St. Grace School, issues with the government and the importance of the school activities to the society. This can be regarded as the top most level of the school’s governance. Additionally, there are other levels in the governance systems structured in a hierarchical manner depending on the department in question.
The K-12 school system in the US is practically displayed and adhered to by both public and private schools (Billig, 2000). Therefore, every school has defined governance system that ensures the standards defined by the government with respect to quality and quantity of education. Private schools have such systems with diverse forms depending on the ownership of the school. On the other hand, state-funded schools have a common governance system. Ultimately, irrespective of the adopted governance system, the school must demonstrate great potential in exercising control and authority in every front of the school. Therefore, St. Grace School, being funded by the United States government, has a governance team appointed and assessed by the government.
Fundamentally, the governance of St. Grace School, besides the principle that is the head of the school and a corporate member of the educational board of governors, doubles up to the chair the teachers’ association. It is noteworthy that teachers are regarded as intellectuals and integral part of the school’s governing and controlling body (Bess, 2002). In other words, they are the implementers of the government stipulated education system. Therefore, St. Grace School has a board of teachers representing each level in the K-12 school system. Additionally, given that the system highlights diverse provisions and defines education as a multi-dimensional activity, it recognizes other members of St. Grace School committee as part and parcel of the governance team. For example, individuals staffing co-curricular activities in the school as well as other spheres of professional development are regarded as part of this team.
The governance of St. Grace School, as described above involves individuals in the committee at different hierarchical levels with responsibilities. The K-12 school system has numerous specifications of what form the American education should take. In this context, each is delegated part of these aspects and are collectively responsible for the outcome. As a matter of fact, the teachers have the responsibility of nurturing students academically through the different grades as they develop towards a professional specialization. The teachers specify and formulate how teaching and learning must take place with respect to the provided curricula. On the other hand, religious leaders help the students to develop religiously and know how to build their social lives in a religious platform; other members of the governing committee have responsibilities that contribute to the ultimate social and academic image of the student.
St. Grace School’s Environment
St. Grace School is situated in a strategic environment where it can realize a number of its social and academic objectives. To be specific, St. Grace School is situated in a silent environment, away from diverse forms of pollution, which gives the students a comfortable environment to learn in. Additionally, there are other schools at proximity neighboring the school to enable both social and academic interactions necessary for the development of the students. Most importantly, St. Grace School recognizes the various development levels in which students are and provide each level a good environment to develop in. It is a logical fact that pupils in the kindergarten will require a different educative and social environment from those in primary education, junior high school, and senior high school (in that order) (Ramsey, Hungerford, & Volk, 1992).
St. Grace School contains the whole system in one major location through which the different stages of the K-12 school system is represented. It is essential that a student’s environment is made conducive enough to foster the different development goals set to achieve. The school offers this for each level and gives the students opportunity to interact with their environment and is as well able to benefit from other aspects of the environment not within the school. Numerous aspects of education and social development require different types of environment to enhance the learning process. St. Grace School recognizes this fact and has well established facilities for each. For instance, the school takes particular interest in nurturing the talents of students as early as kindergarten.
In fact, there are numerous extra-curriculum facilities that help students as they explore their potentials. Basically, different individuals will display different potentials and talents in diverse aspects of the academic and social world. In this context, St. Grace School admits the presence of three types of students, those deemed to be safe, under achievers and the hopeless characters. However, it is arguable that each student has at least an outstanding ability in one or two of the services offered in the school. Through the environment, St. Grace School provides a chance for these students to explore their potentials. The contemporary worlds holds a lot of emphasis on education, this is furthermore emulated by St. Grace School in the numerous banners and charts that remind students how paramount education is for their lives in future. Most importantly, St. Grace School provides a good professional environment for finalists to nurture their professional areas of specialization.
St. Grace School Formal Curricula
St. Grace School follows the formal curricula as stipulated by the K-12 school system. The school is divided into four academic levels, kindergarten, primary education, junior high school, and senior high school. There exists a formal curriculum for each of the levels. However, the overall curricula used in the school are provided by the district’s ministry of education. The governing body specifies the books and aspects of the curriculum that must be emphasized at any particular level in the program (Hull & Schultz, 2002). St. Grace School ensures these stipulations are well implemented through the team of teachers at each level in the system.
1. St. Grace Kindergarten
This can be described as the first stage of the K-12 school system in which students are prepared for primary school. Basically, this is the level in which young students are introduced to the learning environment. The curriculum stipulates that the children at this stage are introduced to education and brought up in an educative background that will ultimately enhance their perception in the preceding level of education. In fact, the children are taught in their mother tongue (Faltis & Hudelson, 1994). The children are taught alphabets, colors, basic shapes, and numbers. Given their age and level of perception, the students are taught using stories, games, and songs. St. Grace School has a wide variety of facilities that enhance the learning process in children of this age. In fact, it is logical that these children are oriented to games. Therefore, the games they play in school have been integrated with aspects of education in various proportions to help the student develop knowledge in the existence and writing letters and numbers.
2. St. Grace Primary School
At this point, students are taught basic concepts for six years chronologically in the various subjects stipulated in the curriculum. St. Grace School offers a spiral progression teaching mechanism in which the students are taught the basic principles of a given subject which is increased with respect to the levels present. As a matter of fact, a subject like Biology can be taught in phases starting with the most basic concepts. This is done as the student advances to higher stages in the levels of education. In other setups, the school often chooses to introduce different subjects at specific levels in the K-12 school system to help build the understanding and perception of the students. However, St. Grace School admits the presence of students with diverse learning abilities and needs. As a result of this prospect, St. Grace School has a special arrangement in which the teachers can manipulate the curricula with permission from the governance board to cater for the more needy students.
However, the curriculum basically stipulates the teaching of basic mathematics, grammar as well as other basic subjects. The approach St. Grace School takes in the implementation of this educative prospect can be described as the bottom-up approach. Every level has a well-defined curriculum that provides the basic concepts of a subject that is later expound on, or explained to details in the following level. It ensures that students can connect facts in any specified concept without regarding it as ambiguous or cumbersome. Currently, the main subjects taught at primary level are social studies, sciences (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics), geography, as well as mathematics (Klein, 2003). It is important to note that St. Grace School has a well-equipped and skilled staff competent enough to make professional distinctions as they teach the students in each educative level.
3. St. Grace Junior High School
At this level, St. Grace School provides a wide variety of subjects for study by students without specializing or emphasizing in any of them. It is basically aimed at widening the student’s perspective with respect to the diverse areas of specialization. As a result of this system, the student is exposed to the subjects he/she chooses to study during the junior high school stage. Given that St. Grace School takes particular interest in producing students with a wide variety of intellectual skills, the choices are guided by the teachers who advice student on what combinations to take. In fact, the teachers are delegated the responsibility by virtue of their position as tutors as they know each student with respect to their potentials and interests.
In this context, most of the subjects taught as basics in the junior grade are given a more specialized approach at this point, however, in bundles. Practically, this stage is a preparatory stage for senior level. The teachers equip students with background information on their perceived majors. As a matter of fact, St. Grace School offers the three sciences with in-depth analysis of concepts, mathematics and applications, English, social sciences as well as physical education. To emphasize on ethical behavior and social viability, the school has introduced extra subjects like drug awareness, sexuality, nutrition, and first aid (Tobler, Roona, Ochshorn, Marshall, Streke, & Stackpole, 2000). These additional courses give students an academic meaning and scientific principles of social aspects of the contemporary environment. St. Grace School aims to implement their organizational objectives in this context by not only teaching these subjects but also conducting follow up services to unveil how best the students understand and exercise the extra-curriculum subjects offered. It is a paramount prospect that the school should equip the students with ethical and moral ideologies before concentrating or specializing on any specific field.
4. St. Grace Senior High School
This can be described as the senior level in the K-12 school system in which the student studies special subjects that nurture them towards a profession. The subjects learned at this level are generally termed as core curriculum. Students take two years in this level to learn the core curricular subjects of specialization. This level offers the students the capacity to choose a field of specialization with respect to overall academic potential, interests and St. Grace School’s capacity in specialized subjects. In this context, the school has a variety of workshops, and training arenas which offer students a wide variety of choices to study. Also demonstrated by the environment, St. Grace School demonstrates a greater capacity in accommodating the needs and interests of the students at senior level (Blank, 1989). Most importantly, St. Grace School has established affiliations and exchange programs with other schools to widen the scope of specialization for students.
St. Grace School Professional Development Program
St. Grace School participates in diverse professional development programs both locally and also as a member of other educational organizations. To ensure that the teachers are able to think critically and formulate teaching and problem solving skills, St. Grace School has set up numerous seminars for the teachers to achieve this (Darling-Hammond, 1994).
Fundamentally, St. Grace School identifies the contemporary situation in the sector of education and shapes its requirements to match the achievable. This helps in removing ambiguity in the organizational objectives and expectations of its staff members. St. Grace School then evaluates and analyses the current status of staffing and capability as well as performance and relates it to the targets based on the contemporary indices. This makes professionalism more practical and achievable for the teachers, a factor that motivates them to perform their best.
Additionally, the school presents the teachers with a more conducive environment, which fosters critical thinking and problem solving skills. This is done through collaborative seminars and case studies that test the potential of the teachers in solving problems during learning. As a matter of fact, it is perceived that teachers, who can critically think and solve problems faster, influence faster and quality learning process. Most importantly, the seminars are geared toward helping the teachers make a distinction between administrative commitment and interpersonal skills. St. Grace School does this through an advisory team made of experienced and professional individuals selected from different schools to guide teachers and other staff members in the process (Picciano & Seaman, 2007).
Moreover, St. Grace School appreciates and understands the fact that professionalism is a long-term achievement and tailors its strategies to give more time for the teachers to develop the required professional skills. Basically, professionalism is a cue that requires a multi-dimensional approach and a case-solution study of the various dimensions of the subject. Therefore, it is logical for St. Grace School to hold periodical and yearly assessment and development seminars to help teachers track their route towards professionalism. These also involve workshops of different designs testing various aspects of professionalism. As a matter of fact, the school stipulates this activity as a mandatory exercise for each member of staff. Additionally, there are different workshop themes for each level in the teaching practice. Among the fundamental workshop themes taught are ethical practice, critical thinking, and modes of student assessment, historical reasoning, scientific concepts and reasoning, learning with students as well as leadership skills.
St. Grace School’s Relationship with Surrounding Community
St. Grace School has excellent programs that enhance a good social relationship with the surrounding community. As discussed above, St. Grace School is strategically located around other schools which foster exchange programs as well as other types of academic interactions like seminars. Additionally, the extra-curricular subjects taught at junior level help students to enhance their social behaviors and promotes interaction between the school and other members of the community. As a matter of fact, the social arrangement the school organizes to invite the community during school festivals, shows, sports as well as drama and cultural productions helps in producing a compact community made up of St. Grace School and other stakeholders in the surrounding community.
Additionally, St. Grace School acquires a large portion of the requirements it needs from the immediate community to ensure that they also benefit in the presence of the school. Most importantly, as the school trains students at senior level, most of the workshops benefit the immediate community directly as the student use scientific concepts to solve problems in the immediate community. Moreover, St. Grace School takes particular interest in helping the community during social activities that would require light services. For instance, the school lending the church nearby seats on Sunday is actually a gesture of greater community benefit and relationship with the school. Furthermore, St. Grace School admits children and other youth from the community and trains them to give back to the community.
St. Grace School’s Hiring Practices and Disciplinary Policies
As highlighted in the governance and professional development clauses, the school has a well-defined and moral hiring schedule and requirements as well as disciplinary policies. The school through its governance committee highlights the requirements for new employees in the different vacancies available in St. Grace School. As a matter of fact, this approach ensures that the school’s procedures are aligned to the government’s stipulations and rules governing state workers. It is vivid that the teachers are selected on merit basis and are developed professionally through the special activities the school sets up for staffs. On the other hand, St. Grace School has a well-defined disciplinary statute that highlights the disciplinary policies for students and staff members on separate prospects. Most importantly, St. Grace School observes moral and ethical prospects of education and coexistence which is displayed by these policies, word to word.
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