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Pillar 1: Rigorous Academics » Starfish » Her Infinite Impact

Pillar 1: Rigorous Academics

Three hundred percent more classroom time over the six years of secondary schooling (1,520 hours per year instead of a minimum 650 typically received) and rigorous academic offerings will contribute to Girl Pioneer participation and success in local, national, or international spheres. One hundred percent of SIS graduates will pass the highly competitive entrance exam for Guatemala’s public university system.

Starfish has identified two crucial areas to uncompromising education: teacher preparation and curriculum.

Teacher preparation: With the purpose of redefining the role, SIS uses the word “educator” instead of “teacher.” With sustainability and cultural attunement in mind, SIS educators and leaders are all from the communities served by the school. However, as products of the lackluster public education system, the six founding educators immersed themselves in a two-year professional development process that started in 2015 (the second generation of educators commenced their training in January 2017). Starfish’s philosophy on educator development places equal value on two critical factors that permit data-driven, differentiated instruction:

  1. Techniques for student engagement—Through highly skilled facilitations, educators create dynamic classroom environments in which students are responsible for the “heavy lifting” around learning. Via continual consultation and collaboration with experts and diverse training resources, Starfish educators are now equipped with over 2000 hours of training in techniques to ensure the participation and engagement of all students.
  2. Mastery of academic content—Since early 2016, all educators have been paired with external experts in their specific academic subject. Through a variety of organizational partnerships, Starfish has cultivated a network of “content coaches” who work individually with educators to align their content knowledge with the curriculum that each is expected to cover with students.

Curriculum design: SIS is an independent school; however, it is still obligated to use the Ministry of Education’s standardized curriculum. Starfish integrates the required elements of each subject area as we develop a far more robust and rigorous version for the Starfish Impact School. Through highly proactive research on a variety of educational disciplines and philosophies (listed in the Partners section), SIS offers a customized curriculum that far exceeds the requirements of the national standards.

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