Everyone learns differently. How we hear, see, watch or visualise varies — harnessed correctly, however, each can teach us plenty.
This is the important mission of Cardigan Mountain School’s PEAKS (Personalised Education Acquisition of Knowledge and Skills) department.
PEAKS core classes, held four days each week, aim to help all boys in all grades to become better, more efficient learners and self-advocates. This starts with Cardigan students recognising and understanding different types of learners — in essence, how a boy learns best.
Then, in classes on study skills, technology, and wellness, they uncover effective strategies for leading more productive lives — in their academics and beyond. The curriculum covers acclimatising to boarding school life, emotional intelligence, social skills, time management, organisation, collaboration with peers, developing self-advocacy skills with teachers, becoming a lifelong learner, and transitioning to secondary school.
What is unique about PEAKS is the encouragement and support that students receive from the trained coaches. These important mentors provide personal guidance to each student, conduct extra help sessions and help each student find their individual strengths and challenges as a learner.
Some of the habits of learning PEAKS instils include a growth mindset, self-awareness, coexistence, critical thinking, ownership, communication, and creativity.
“All of our students in all grades work on study skills, technology education, and wellness,” says Jarrod Caprow, PEAKS Department Chair and Assistant Dean of Academics.
“The PEAKS coach serves not only as the classroom teacher for the class but also as a secondary advisor for each student focusing on academics.”
The PEAKS curriculum is like going on a journey that leads to a profound impact on a boy’s mind, brain, wellness, and education.
In Grade 6, students learn to better acclimate to boarding school life by honing their emotional intelligence and social skills. This is in addition to the essential skills in time management, study methods, and organisation that all Cardigan students receive.
Next year allows for natural maturation and support for students’ adjustment to subject-specific classes. This is when PEAKS classes focus on self-management, positive peer interactions and collaboration. Where Grade 6 is about study and organisational skills, Grade 7 spurs students to develop a sense of personal responsibility and self-identity.
In Grade 8, it’s time for Cardigan boys to take on more responsibility for their academics and their lives. Cultivating this new self-awareness, PEAKS classes complement this while encouraging boys to collaborate, appreciate how their peers learn and to develop a habit of self-advocacy with teachers.
Ninth graders then use their PEAKS classes to evolve into independent, lifelong learners. Using current neurobiological research, the PEAKS coaches help the students dive deeper into how their brain works and how to apply this in their everyday lives — the ideal preparation for their transition to the next school following Cardigan.
Learning the Cardigan way
Equally important is Cardigan’s vibrant, exciting curriculum for its students, mostly because it understands the development stages of young men at these ages and looks to develop that.
Students have support, but with the right amount of independence and challenge to help them grow and get ready for university and beyond.
“What we have here at Cardigan is a family that cares about us and our futures. I am proud to be part of this community and proud to call Cardigan my home,” graduate Bryce Terry says.
To enhance learning, Cardigan students must take two or three art electives depending on which grade they are in.
A choice of woodworking, visual arts, music or theatre arts is available, where students can indulge in a variety of courses like painting, drama, photography, set designing, performance, choral music, orchestra and bands.
Another exciting programme that is available for students at Cardigan is the Gates Invention and Innovation Programme.
Students have the opportunity to design and build a prototype of an invention that performs a practical function aimed to make life easier or safer. Throughout this year-long class, boys can let their entrepreneurial spirit, creative thinking and risk-taking come alive.
The task begins each fall, and students have the opportunity to work their way through the project over winter, and by springtime, successfully refine their pitches.
The pitches are then presented to a panel of expert judges, who identify a pool of finalists from which they then select the winners.
Prizes are awarded for First, Second, and Third Place, as well as “Best Salesman” and “Best Market Research.” To learn more about how Cardigan inspires boys to reach their potential, click here.
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