The multicultural orientation of the Waldorf high school curriculum is reflected in Academe’s academic program (including main lessons on the history, peoples, and politics of the Middle East, Africa, and China); in our foreign exchange and Global Nomads programs; in our participation in Model UN and Amnesty International; and in the linguistic and cultural diversity of our student body. Academe students are aware and engaged, inspired to act and competent to lead.
Recognizing that an effective global orientation stands only on a solid foundation of local awareness and engagement, Academe students study the history and geography of their own communities, of the region and the nation. They look within themselves and out into the world, exploring the common and particular needs and histories of their neighbors—of long-time residents and the newly-arrived, of English speakers and English learners, of old and young. Academe students are encouraged to examine their own roles and responsibilities, to themselves and to their communities. Their development as principled actors on the world stage is fostered in community service and internships.
Through Service Learning, the community service component of our curriculum, students come to know from their own experience that the deeds of one human being really can make a difference. Service learning fosters social consciousness and camaraderie in the school community, among students, teachers, and staff. Service learning clarifies for us what it means to be part of a community—in essence, what it is to be human; it strengthens the relationship between empathy and responsibility. At Academe of the Oaks, we seek to cultivate a deep social and moral sense, to encourage the students’ natural inclinations to help others and to affect the world in positive ways.
Community service is central to the Waldorf high school experience. Academe requires forty hours of community service per grade per year, of which twenty hours may be served in-house. (In-house service opportunities are provided at intervals throughout the year.) While most students give more of their time to community service than is required for graduation, over the course of four years at Academe, each is obliged to document 160 service hours.
In addition, Academe’s student-led Community Service Club plans and executes service projects in the community, including food and clothing drives and distributing goods to the homeless.
Global Nomads Group
Juniors and seniors at Academe may elect to participate in the work of the Global Nomads Group, an international organization promoting communication between communities that are not likely otherwise to have any contact with one another. The year-long GNG curriculum provides both direct instruction in conflict resolution and opportunities to engage person-to-person in meaningful and productive dialogue across geographical and cultural distances. The program of technology-mediated interaction combats misconceptions and fosters understanding and empathy. To date, Academe students have engaged with their “partner group” in Jordan through video-conferencing; the program also encourages communication and collaboration via webcast, social networking, gaming, and participatory filmmaking.
Academe’s Global Nomads are a committed group. They prepare unstintingly and gather before dawn to participate in video-conferencing sessions with their Jordanian counterparts—their common goals: to get to know one another and to engage their communities in positive social change. In the process, students learn to navigate social and cultural norms and to ask and answer questions with sensitivity to their interlocutors’ customs and conventions. Our Nomads are part of a global, youth-driven diplomatic effort to make peace possible.
Hope Education Project
Through the Hope Education Project, Academe students nurture connections with children and families of the Syrian refugee community in Clarkston, Georgia, just up the road from Decatur. Sundays on the Academe campus, while the children do homework with our students, their parents learn English with Señora Salas, our foreign language teacher.
Students from Emory University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Pace Academy participate with us in the Hope Education Project, which is directed by Zeena Lattouf (Associate Director of the Isdell Center for Global Leadership) with Dr. Heval Mohammed Kelli (Cardiac Fellow at Emory University’s School of Medicine.)