CLASS Academy a year-round, Pre-K trough Eighth grade private school in NW Portland. We are a registered private school with the Oregon Department of Education (institution ID: 1624).
We are committed to keeping our class sizes small (a 1:10 ratio for lower school, 1:15 for older students), providing our teachers with the skills necessary to make sure that every student succeeds academically, socially, and emotionally. The school day begins at 8:30 am and is made up of a structured routine that children embrace because they know what to expect throughout the day.
Our curriculum is advanced, but the day is full of “energizers” that give the students the chance to take a break from their work and “get the wiggles out” so they can focus on the next learning exercise. Learning is often disguised as fun; CLASS Academy
students continue learning even during play time. Extended supervision is available from 7:15am until 5:30pm at no extra charge.
CLASS Academy students are easy to spot in their bright red sweaters or coats and navy and white school uniforms.
The CLASS Academy program stresses independence, with children encouraged to "learn to work for themselves and develop a sense of pride in what they do.” Weekly and monthly assessments provide ongoing information to school staff and parents on each child's progress, skill levels, and emotional and social growth. Classes are age-blended to meet students' personal needs. Students are always challenged but never frustrated.
CLASS Academy is passionate about developing each student to his or her maximum potential. This is accomplished by focusing on a program that:
*develops creative thinkers,
*raises IQ through emphasis on right-brain activities,
*gives opportunites to experience a variety of accelerated curriculum, reaching ALL learning styles,
*stretches and challenges every learner,
*produces inquisitive, observant students with learning levels 1-2 years above thier same-age counterparts, and
*emphasized public spaeking.
Students are assessed througout the year and labeled as TAG accordingly. We provide a challenging and rigorous curriculum to ALL students, which results in many of our students accomplishing TAG status.
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CLASS Academy opened its doors in September, 1995, in NW Portland after taking a year to organize the materials, develop the
curriculum, and establish financial backing. Within two months, we lost our lease at our newly remodeled space. We were, (thankfully) taken in by Zion Lutheran Church. In November of 1995, the parents of our eighteen students and our three
staff members moved us to our new “temporary” location. We were allowed to use their Parish Hall for six months while pursuing a permanent location. In June, 1996, the parents of thirty students helped us move to Washington and SW Ninth. After one year we realized we would need more space to accommodate our growing clientele, plus the request to expand to fifth grade. We now include up to eighth grade! In February 2000, after eighteen long months of much toil, hard work and remodeling, we made our final move to our current address with a fifteen-year lease. CLASS Academy is a year-round school with small, age-blended
classes to match each child’s emotional, social and academic needs. CLASS Academy students excel above their peers nationally in an environment where the child finds learning to be fun and never frustrating. Our students’ strengths are in reading, math, science, writing, public speaking, and self-esteem! The school’s dedicated and committed staff coupled with supportive, involved parents, make up this successful program. We are proud of our program and the positive advantages it gives to our students.
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CLASS Academy was founded in 1995 by Teresa Cantlon. Her life-long passion for and commitment to children has driven her to develop a program that would reach all types of children's emotional, social, and educational needs. The program is developed around a safe, caring, orderly environment and designed to develop in each child a love of learning. Civility and respect for self and others is the norm. Diversity is explored and celebrated every day.
The children are taught in an age blended environment where innovation, challenged thinking, multisensory learning and teamwork are promoted. They are individually challenged to proceed at THEIR optimum rate of learning. Studies have shown
children will live up to expectations, positive or negative. CLASS Academy holds high positive expectations for each student, teacher and parent and those expectations are met daily.
Ms. Cantlon's years of experience have provided proof of her theory that all children, given equal opportunities at a very young age, can rise to a high level emotionally, socially and academically.
Children do not learn at the same time and pace. Chronological age is not the gauge for placing students into learning groups. They are placed into groups according to their emotional, social, and academic levels. Curriculum each year "spirals back" to meet all children's learning styles and rates.
Groups are age-blended. Therefore, students can move successfully through their skill levels. Students are never frustrated, but slightly challenged in daily learning. They feel pride in accomplishment in their learning.
We work with each child's developmental level of learning with a "hands-on" discovery approach. The curriculum includes math, science, reading, language arts, spelling, penmanship, art, and physical education. Between educational periods, CLASS
Academy utilizes "energizers" to help the children maintain concentration. Homework is given on a regular basis to reinforce learning that is in progress. It also helps to keep parents informed of current learning activities at school.
CLASS is an acronym for Cantlon's Learning Academy for Spectacular Students. Ms. Cantlon believes that ALL students are special. Her program shows the students how special they are.
CLASS Academy was established for children to experience, appreciate and respect diversity. When children are exposed to the differences among their peers and are allowed to learn more about others they will understand, appreciate, and accept the differences in all of us. Students with special learning needs are not segregated, rather they participate fully in class rotations and activities.
Age Blended Classes
Possibly the most prominent philosophy of the CLASS Academy program is the belief in age blended classes. This is done to fully meet each student's emotional, social and academic needs. For example, a student might do very well academically but socially/emotionally he/she might need more time to develop. The pressure to perform academically can hinder his emotional/social growth and affect his self esteem. When he is placed in a group according to his needs, not his age, he performs at a higher level academically. The student's self esteem is being elevated while emotional, social and academic needs are being met on an individual basis.
Curriculum is similar year-to-year to allow a child to build and expand upon his/her knowledge base depending on his/her social and emotional levels for taking in the information. For example when a child first learns about deciduous trees the information will be processed as knowledge, the lowest level of learning. As the child matures she will take this information to a higher level until they are at the mastery or evaluative level with the information. When at the evaluative level a person is able to make judgments about and evaluate information, do something new with or use the information in a new way. Some programs boast that their curriculum will not be repeated. For instance they may teach about the Solar System in the third grade, the Oregon Trail in the fourth. The problem with that is that a majority of learners cannot reach the mastery-evaluative level of learning with only one exposure to the information. The average learner requires five to twenty-five repetitions for new information to reach a mastery level. Therefore, each year CLASS Academy students "spiral back" for review, re-teaching and exposure in a new way to meet all children's learning styles and rate of learning.
Annual base-line assessments are done on every student. Daily record keeping on all skills furnishes data for determining re-teaching or enrichment. Math, reading and science assessments are administered after completion of thematic topics.
Math and Science
Students are introduced to math and computational skills using verbal story problems along with fun, child friendly manipulatives to solve them. 'Touchpoints' are used in addition and subtraction while skip counting to songs makes multiplication and division
a breeze. Coupons and play money are incorporated into the older children's curriculum to help prepare them for handling money as they get older. Students learn the names of the planets, as well as the continents through fun songs.
Reading and Language Arts
Reading and language arts are curriculum blended. Reading is taught in a "traditional" format with phonics being the emphasis and sight words incorporated. Emergent reading is done in small groups. Part of the curriculum is done with "basal" readers which are vocabulary controlled with word repetition for faster student application. Reinforcement of skills is done with high interest books of the same level. Reading comprehension skills are reinforced daily not only in the current text, but through games and text which give immediate feedback as to accuracy and not a tedious pencil-paper format.
Between the 20 to 30 minute "rotations" (educational period) the children stand up and do a physical activity. These are overseen by the instructor and may include light calisthenics, rhythms or perhaps a game of freeze dancing. These activities help the children get the "wiggles" out and enable them to concentrate more easily on their next lesson.
Spelling and Penmanship
CLASS Academy's philosophy regarding spelling is that there will not be formal spelling lists given for memorization. Children have creative writing on a daily basis and will immediately edit and correct their own spelling errors through the use of electronic
spellers or traditional dictionaries. Creative or "guess and go" spelling is not CLASS Academy's way to learn correct spelling. If a student immediately corrects his spelling errors and uses accurate spelling on a daily basis then correct spelling becomes the
norm and not the exception.
At CLASS Academy the students are taught D'Nelian handwriting which makes the transition to cursive easier. Penmanship and neatness is a signature of the pride and care that students display in their work. This skill needs to be instilled at a very young
age, therefore, teachers encourage each child to take pride and care in every activity he or she engages in.
Manners and appropriate social skills are the expectation at CLASS Academy. Students learn how to interact with one another in a positive and socially acceptable format. The children learn how to be independent as well as interdependent learners and workers. The "I can" attitude is reinforced daily. They are taught skills which help them interact and work in partner groups as well as with all classmates in general to prepare them emotionally, socially, and academically for the twenty-first century.
Art and Physical Education
Every student at CLASS Academy experiences a full body developmental program which includes tumbling, gymnastics, obstacle courses, freeze dancing, seasonal swimming and ice skating. The students learn age appropriate dances to perform with
great ambition at parent nights and holiday performances. Art and art history is a favorite part of the children's day as the produce "Monet" style paintings, learn about different textures, colors and mediums.
Homework is part of the day-to-day expectations of work-study skills at CLASS Academy. Students receive simple homework a minimum of twice a week beginning at the preschool level. The homework is generally a fun activity for the child and should
never be too difficult or frustrating for them to accomplish. Homework reinforces learning that is in progress, develops good study habits and familiarizes the parents with what their child is currently learning.
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Lead-Up Skills: What are they and why are they important?
“Lead-up” skills are those skills that will enhance a child’s higher-level learning in reading, writing, mathematics, science, music, poetry, art, etc by providing them the opportunity to learn new skills in short, simple phases rather than burdening them with
too much information all at once. Additionally, these skills enhance positive self esteem, social, and emotional development.
Shapes and Colors- Examples of activities:
Using materials such as pattern blocks, students are asked to count the number of yellow hexagons, red trapezoids,
orange squares, etc. “Let’s find all the green acute triangles and put them in the container…Now, all the tan rhombi, etc.”
This develops recall and discrimination skills. The student is then asked to take that knowledge and apply it to other situations
(Transferring) “Find something in the room that is shaped like a square (triangle, rectangle, ellipse, oval, etc.)” or “Make your body look like a circle (triangle, etc.).”
Rhyming, Auditory Discrimination, Memory Recall, Vocabulary Building:
For students to be able to “hear” the phonetic sounds of letter, they must have their auditory skills fine-tuned. If they cannot “hear”the difference between “b” and “d” they are not ready for phonics training. It will be too frustrating for the learner.
Activities to enhance auditory discrimination:
Nursery rhymes, rhyming activities and games. The child can “hear” the likeness in “boy-toy” and the difference between “girl-boy.” Children like hearing their name rhymed with silly objects, such as Berry-Mary or Hannah-Banana. We then ask the student “Does Dabby-Danny rhyme? How about Vanny-Danny?”Listening Lotto Tapes-the child hears a familiar sound on the earphones. S/he places a token on the picture of the object that makes that sound. This develops auditory discrimination and memory recall.
Memory Recall: It is important for children to remember information and retell recall as a crucial component in learning higher level activities of reading, math, etc.
Activities which reinforce this skill include:
Read a story and allow the children to recall characters, events, plot, ending. Memory Lotto games where children have to remember where certain pictures are placed to reveal them. Recalling rhymes. Able to remember names, and recognizes names from name tags. Recalling a story or event from the previous day. Showing a numeral or letter and the child remembering the name. Drama activities. Speaking in sentences and replying in such.
Daily Counting, Numeral, and Letter Recognition:
Our students practice daily counting of objects as they are used. Counting stairs as they ascend and descend. CDs with counting and skip counting songs are played and children follow along both verbally and with their bodies. Two, three, and four year olds count to 50 and skip count by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s to songs that reinforce their higher counting skills. Five-year-olds count and write their numerals to either 50 or 100, depending on their readiness level. A Numeral or Letter of the Week is stamped on child’s hand. For numerals, we ask the child what that numeral is, ask him/her to clap, (jump, hop, etc.) that many times, so their whole body “feels” the relationship to the number and the numeral. For letters, we ask the child the letter name, the sound it makes, and ask him/her to identify some words or objects that begin with that sound. During Energizers and Gym, students make their bodies into the shape of the numeral or letter that are called out. The students jump on the mini-trampoline the number of the day, or they count in Spanish. Students learn all consonants and short vowel sounds and form them in lower case. They learn four consonants b,t,p,n and short vowel "a" initially. When they have learned these letter sounds they are able to begin to decode three letter words, (nap, tap, pat, tan, bat, pan, etc.).
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Teresa Cantlon's life-long passion and commitment to children has led her to develop a program which reaches all types of children's emotional, social and educational needs. Her extensive and diverse education and experience prompted her philosophy of beginning with children at a young age, ages 2 1/2 - 3 years. Her background includes degrees and experience in elementary and physical education and special education with reading endorsement. Her teaching experience ranges from reading specialist and classroom teacher in elementary through high school. She has been an elementary principal and a national trainer and consultant in effective teaching strategies with cooperative learning for teachers K-12. She is the author of two education books of Effective Teaching Strategies with Cooperative Learning which have been sold internationally.
As a national consultant she was hired by a church in Brooklyn, New York to open a school of excellence for their African-American congregation. The school began with three year olds and proceeded up in the grades. After one and a half years all the children in the first and second grades qualified for gifted programs proving two philosophies of Ms. Cantlon:
First, all children given equal opportunities at a very young age can rise to a high level emotionally, socially and academically. Her second proven philosophy is that teachers do not have to be certified to become excellent teachers. Teresa, a staff development consultant, trains her teachers who have college degrees but not necessarily in education. Therefore, the entire school is coming from the same direction on discipline, academic goals and procedures.
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