The philosophy that drives a school and its staff is a very important issue. Key decisions, curriculum, and interaction among students and staff are affected by the overlying philosophy. The Lawton Academy of Arts & Sciences elementary is guided by the personal educational philosophy of its founder, Kay F. Johnson, who has developed and refined this belief during her forty plus years of teaching experience. The philosophy in the secondary school builds upon Mrs. Johnson’s philosophy, and has been adapted to meet the unique needs of older students by her daughter, Michelle Smith.
We believe in continuous-progress learning. That is, a child should be taught and allowed to learn at his own speed with particular attention given to the following two variables:
1. Time: Developmental stages of the child (social, academic, physical, and emotional).
2. Learning Styles: All children can learn. Since children differ in preferred learning styles, teaching styles must match accordingly.
Accuracy in learning is more important than speed. The goal for all children is mastery of concepts. More specifically, we believe in “process” learning. Children learn best when they “experience,” so learning will consistently move from concrete and manipulative activities to abstract and conceptual learning as the student is able. In this method of teaching, along with the continuous-progress approach, students who master skills will be accelerated in skill levels, not simply enriched.
The values and ethics that made this country great will be taught in this school. It is important that the value of the human soul is not overlooked. A happy child is one who has a balanced life in all three areas: mind, body, and soul.
These include, but are not limited to: a sense of pride in achievement, a sense of responsibility, a sense of trust and security based upon reasonable limits, a belief in the spirit of individualism in tune with a practice of brotherhood and respect, and respect for our nation, its leaders, our flag, and our common heritage. Mrs. Johnson has been able to successfully educate children during her forty plus years of teaching because she tries to see children as God sees them. Activities that include teachings about wisdom from Proverbs as well as stories from the Bible that teach life’s lessons will be included with our literature. God has blessed Mrs. Johnson all these many years and given her success in teaching children… she will acknowledge Him and the blessings He brings to life.
Students of Lawton Academy’s middle school attend seven core classes per week. These include a math, a science, a social science, English, literature, Spanish, and speech. In addition, the students participate in art, music (vocal and instrumental), technology, drama, and PE. Beyond that, students are invited to gain extra instruction in a fine art or sport after the school day, if so desired.
Eighth graders are required to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to continue on with us in high school. A 2.5 GPA probably does not seem like a very high standard; however, a student enrolled at our school cannot make a 2.5 without completing all of the work outside the class (homework, required reading, etc.). This process allows only those willing to do all of the required work to continue.
Accuracy is more important than speed. Because Lawton Academy is geared toward the “gifted student,” we believe that every child here can perform at an A/B level. In fact, we believe that reaching this goal is a team effort, the team being composed of the student, his teachers, his parents, and administration.
Student: Students are encouraged to do their best work at all times. Each Monday morning the name of the top student in each class is published. Students who have surpassed their peers do have the opportunity for early advancement in a subject. Those students who have fallen below the prescribed GPA are placed on extra-curricular restriction for a week so that more attention can be given to studies. Failure is simply not an option. Failure at the end of the second semester at the least leads to summer work, and at the most results in expulsion.
Teachers: Reteaching a student when necessary is a part of the teacher’s accountability to the student. Teacher expectations for every student are high, and encouragement is given to build a foundation for excellence. A free study hall is offered Monday through Friday (3:30 – 4:30) in which secondary students can get extra help, computer time, or just a chance to do homework in a quiet atmosphere before heading home for the day.
Parents: Parents have access to the teachers via e-mail, texting, and phone. Open communication with the teacher is a vital part of the student’s success. Secondary grades are published online (with a password to view own child’s grades only), as are assignments via Canvas Instructure. One conference is January is mandatory; others are welcome.
Administration: Mrs. Smith gives a marketability report card and a mock job recommendation to each student once a year to show students how marketable they are making themselves to colleges and employers. She meets with parents and the student in January to review the first semester grades and to discuss future plans and goals.
Lawton Academy high school is difficult, so we strive to make sure that students are correctly placed. The secondary students are encouraged to think as future employers rather than employees. Gifted are typically “jacks of all trades, masters of none.” To that end, we require secondary students to take AP-level courses (or courses similar in design), compete in state-wide competitions in drama/speech, music, robotics, and academic areas, and develop a fitness routine that not only keeps them healthy, but allows them the opportunity to build connections in future careers, be it by playing a pick-up game of basketball with peers or by participating in games at the company picnic. The students are required to gain a fine arts credit and one fitness credit each year besides credits each year in math, science, social sciences, English/lit, Spanish, speech, and robotics. All students are taught to communicate effectively and are encouraged heavily to volunteer around the community. Every other year, all high school students go through a class in business communications and financial planning.
By the end of the sophomore year, students are asked to identify areas of interest regarding future employment. Each finds three universities (at least) to which he/she wishes to apply and begins making plans to visit over the summers of sophomore and junior years. Results of a college entrance exam must be in our records by the start of the senior year, and students are highly encouraged to apply for the early action admission to the university of their choices.
Throughout a student’s middle and high school years, he is required to write weekly. He is also reading at least one hundred pages of a classic in literature. Because of this requirement, Lawton Academy has enjoyed ten years of 100% of its high school students being ready for college English/writing, as reported by the ACT five-year trends.
In addition to the school work, students are required to be a member of one of four “business” teams, and are highly encouraged to be involved in student government and mentoring opportunities.
We work hard in the LAAS secondary school… but we play hard as well! We have lock-ins, dances, out-of-town trips, parties, and many opportunities to fellowship on the way to competitions and exhibits.
Philosophies Common to Both
The fine arts are one of the few remaining channels for creativity in this current society. All students at LAAS, from the very youngest to the seniors in the high school, receive instruction in music, drama, and art. Student work in these areas is shared through art galas, plays, concerts, and publications. Our emphasis is giving students a life-long avenue for creativity. One example of progression in our school is that of playing a musical instrument. Preschool students learn steady beat and reading musical symbols while playing Boomwhackers. This concept is continued in Kindergarten with hand bells. By 1st grade, we are moving the student from playing one note in a group performance to playing the entire performance simultaneously with his peers through xylophones. In 2nd grade, students learn how to play the recorder. 3rd graders play the recorder in parts. 4th and 5th graders play guitar, ukulele, or a band instrument. Middle school students try out for ensembles that compete in OSSAA’s solo/ensemble contests alongside students from Oklahoma public schools and other private schools in the area. Once students reach high school, we encourage them to branch into the kind of music they want to play, which often manifests itself in the form of a “garage band” or a solo act at an open mic.
Technology offers wonderful tools to be used by the students in expressing ideas, creations, and thoughts. Computers are utilized at all levels at LAAS. Typing skills are emphasized in elementary classes, and students are using Power Point by fourth grade. Seventh – twelfth grade students are required to have a laptop at school for their core classes. The computer use extends to production of a news show in our television studio, CAD and animation programs, and photography programs and video editing and rendering programs. To truly be productive throughout the day, adults benefit with a little break every now and then. Kids are no different. Students in the elementary school have either two or three recesses a day (teacher preference). Students in the secondary school have a fifteen minute break in the morning, as well as thirty minutes after school to “hang out” with each other.
Learning is an exciting adventure to be experienced to the maximum!