Please meet Jake Kaplove, La Scuola’s Middle School Dean of Students. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Jake, to learn a bit more about him, how he ended up teaching at La Scuola, and get his thoughts on the benefits of the La Scuola Middle School program.
Jake is a Bay Area native, who went to school in the North Bay, up until he graduated from high school. He then moved to the East Coast, where he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. In college he studied Psychology and Spanish. After graduation, connected through the Fulbright Scholar Program, he moved to Argentina for one year, teaching English. It was during this time that Jake realized how much he wanted to focus more of his life on teaching, and working with students, especially in an International capacity.
Fast forward a bit, Jake finds himself once again in the Bay Area, this time teaching at Nueva School, and eventually at the Spanish Infusion school in San Francisco. As some of you may already know, the Spanish Infusion school, just prior to the pandemic, lost the lease to its building, and was forced to close. Fortunately for La Scuola, many of the students, and teachers found their way to our school, which is how Jake ended up here.
Today Jake holds the role of Dean of Students for the Middle School. Part of his efforts and work focus on student conduct policies, supporting and creating a positive culture within the student body, coordinating the student activities and events, and coordinating the middle school advisory program.
I asked Jake what makes La Scuola’s Middle School program special? He responded, “the community, the friendships, the relationships, and the International Baccalaureate curriculum.”
Let’s start with the community and friendships . . .
“Students enjoy coming to class and school, because they all know and support each other. They feel warm and welcomed when they come to school. They feel safe, and there is a great deal of trust that you are part of the community, and will be supported, and not judged. All opinions are welcome.” He went on to say that the middle schoolers enjoy connecting with students from all the grades at the campus, as well as the Elementary School teachers, and, of course, their Middle School teachers. “We are a tight-knit, supportive community. The students know it.”
And, what about the academics here? “Academically, the IB program is rigorous, but it is balanced – not only focused on grades and scores – but focused on outcomes, by having students think for themselves, learning important concepts and then being able to use these concepts in the real world. The combination of IB with Language Immersion gives the La Scuola middle schooler the opportunity to learn as a global citizen, and think outside of the normal text book way of ‘learning for learning’s sake.’ They are learning valuable tools on how to ask the challenging questions, how to move through the inquiry process, and how to come to a solution. This is a much better way of learning, versus being taught the solution, and then not being able to apply the learnings in other everyday ways.”
Jake also wanted to be sure I shared information about the La Scuola ADC (Atelier for Democracy and Culture) course. This is a course that our middle schoolers begin by answering one easy question: What can you do as a student to make an impact in the world? This course has given the students the freedom to think about the impact they want to make, select the project(s) they want to tackle, and how they want to go about acting locally, to make a global impact. ADC marries the IB and Inquiry learning with today’s real world. A great example of this process in action was the most recent Global Climate Strike that took place in the Bay Area a few weeks ago. The students themselves decided to attend the event, and gave reasons why it was important, subsequently organized how they would get there and what they wanted to accomplish, arranged for transportation, calculated the costs, and made signs to bring and display during the strike. Their participation gave them the power to act locally, while impacting globally, addressing the climate crisis.
This all sounds impressive, but what happens when a student graduates and moves on to high school? We’ve seen all of our graduates being accepted at excellent high schools all over the world, independent, public, boarding, and religious . Are they prepared, and do they find themselves ready and well equipped for the next chapter of their education? “Funny you should ask . . . ,” he said, “I recently connected with two of our Class of 2022 graduates, who are currently attending International High School in San Francisco.” He shared that they both are doing very well at the high school, and find they are using the tools they learned in middle school and applying their learnings in almost everything they are doing currently. They both feel they have the knowledge and experience to address their high school assignments and challenges, and can think through solutions in a well-rounded, global, and independent way.
If you would like to learn more about the Middle School program at La Scuola, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team can answer your questions, and also arrange for you to have an in-person tour, where you will get the chance to meet Jake Kaplove in person!
Director of Marketing
La Scuola International School
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