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Updated Apr 19, 2020
700 Glendale Street - St. Paul MN - 55114-1782
Type of autonomy arrangement: school charter/bylaws
About the Learning Program
Avalon School prepares students for college and life in a strong, nurturing community that inspires active learning, engaged citizenship, and hope for the future. AVALON combines (1) a college-prep focus, (2) interdisciplinary seminars, (3) project–based learning, and (4) a technology component. This will be complemented by extensive training in ethics, conflict resolution, interpersonal/life skills, and active citizenship and community service.
From the March 2019 School Spotlight
Open since 2001, Avalon Charter School is located in Saint Paul and serves over 240 students in grades 6 through 12. Students at Avalon design independent projects, participate in multi-age advisories, complete service projects, mediate conflict, and create new rules for Avalon during student Senate and Congress. Each spring, Avalon seniors showcase their best professional work when they present their 300 hour Senior Project to the community.
While students are empowered to lead their education and accept responsibility for the school community, 27 teachers at Avalon are similarly empowered. There is no principal or director; instead, the teachers operate as leaders and shared decision-makers. At Avalon, teachers accept accountability for school success: teachers control the curriculum, budget, professional development, and personnel decisions. After 18 years, we know that student and teacher empowerment are key ingredients to creating a positive school culture and boosting academic success.
How Teacher Powered Impacts Student Success: Student and adult relationships are critical to Avalon’s success, where every student has an adult advocate (their advisor) and a personal learning plan. Students are placed in multi-age advisories of no more than 22 students that loop with their advisor in middle school and high school. This small teacher/student ratio and high teacher and student retention allows us to forge a strong partnership between the families, students, and the staff at the school.
High autonomy, collaboration, and strong relationships get impressive results. For example, most Avalon students have a diagnosed disability and more than 35% receive special education services. Many students at Avalon were also previously bullied in their old school setting. Yet, according to a 2019 survey, 100% of Avalon parents agree or strongly agree that our school is a positive learning environment and 98% of students surveyed feel safe. There is also a positive, statistically-significant relationship between the number of years a student is at Avalon and his or her index score on the Hope Study Survey (which measures the degree to which the school context supports students’ developmental needs for autonomy, belongingness, and a positive goal orientation). If traditional measures are your thing, Avalon students also outperform the resident district in both Reading and Math MCA Assessments.