Freshman Academy

     In 2009, Lindblom Math and Science Academy (LMSA) established a Freshman Academy to help LMSA freshmen transition from elementary to high school successfully.  This year we will graduate our first Freshman Academy class. The Freshman Academy addresses an important reality in our schools and our society today: Young people who are successful in ninth grade tend to sustain their success into grades 10 through 12, as well as into college and beyond. On the other hand, students who do poorly in ninth grade may be at significant risk of dropping out of high school and encountering difficulty in their future lives.

     The concept of a Freshman Academy has emerged together with the “small schools” movement in American education.  A core belief is that students benefit from belonging to a community of teachers, staff and other students who look out for each other.  Teachers work as a group to prod individual students in the right direction, while keeping parents informed and involved. During the 2008-2009 school year, Lindblom teachers, counselors and administrators decided to establish a Freshman Academy for the incoming 2009-2010 freshmen, adopting the following mission statement:

The mission of the Freshman Academy is to support students in the transition from the eighth grade to a rigorous high school college preparatory environment emphasizing the skills, work habits, and character required for success at the college/university level and beyond.  Placed within a teaching team that will facilitate student achievement and that will encourage joint involvement among students, parents, and staff, students will demonstrate consistent goal-setting, motivation, organization, perseverance, and integrity in response to the academic challenges of high school.

At LMSA, here is what the Freshman Academy means for students on a daily basis:

Membership in a “Freshman House”

Each student is a member of a Freshman House.  House A students have one set of teachers for their core subjects along with an assigned counselor.  House B students have another set of teachers and counselor.  For each student, this means that there is a dedicated team of teachers (with counselor) who look out for that student’s progress. 

Freshman Executive Functions Colloquium

Freshman Executive Functions Colloquium is dedicated to helping students learn the executive functioning skills that will help them succeed in high school and beyond. The first quarter focuses on goal setting and metacognition to help students learn how to set smaller goals each week in order to achieve their long-term goals. The metacognition portion is aimed at helping students think about their thinking so they can see the agency they have in making changes to their own habits and behaviors. The second quarter builds on the first and focuses on sustaining and teaching through the student’s areas of strength and improving upon the areas of weakness. This quarter will help students seek out others in their class and in the building to help them develop their executive function skills. Third quarter builds off the first two by working to help students develop a learning community within the building in the same way that teachers in the building are doing. We will also address issues that arise from our first quarter reflection. Finally, the fourth quarter will focus on reflection and action plans for the sophomore year. 

Teacher Freshman Academy Weekly Meetings 

How did you know about that?” is a question LMSA freshmen often asked their teachers.  It has been easy for students to notice that their teachers and counselors are communicating frequently about their progress.  This communication happens at weekly House A and House B team meetings, where student progress is discussed and appropriate interventions are formulated for students having difficulty.  In some cases, students are invited to attend these staff meetings to present their own goals and turnaround plans.