Academics and Enrichment
Who Rainier Valley Leadership Academy is:
As an anti-racist collaborative community school of critical thinkers serving grades 6-12. We welcome all families and scholars with warmth, love, acceptance and respect. We recognize that all scholars and families come to us with an innumerable amount of assets and gifts; it is our responsibility to tap into those assets and cultivate scholars’ innate brilliance in a place that is safe to explore, grow, question, and lead.
We hold a high bar of excellence and rigor for our scholars and as a staff. We recognize that when we set goals for ourselves and our scholars, we also set up systems of support that make the goals accessible and attainable. When our scholars achieve their goals, no matter the size, we celebrate them loudly and proudly.
Say my name:
Scholars are greeted each day by a school personnel as they walk through the door with a smile on their face, and the preferred greeting of the scholar, handshake, high five, hug, and possibly a dance move or two. We debunk the ideas around classroom teachers and embrace what it means to be school teachers, no matter the classroom as the staff we are committed to providing a loving and warm environment beyond each classroom, we do this for every scholar in our building.
We believe in the deep rooted relationships between caring adults and scholars, and peer relationships between scholars. Mentor time allows for scholars to engage with one another, learning across diverse perspectives by leading with understanding and respect for one another. Every scholar knows they can count on their mentors to support them through the academic and emotional roller coaster we call middle and high school. Families know they can count on mentors to keep them aware of all that is happening on a day to day basis with their scholar, and has an additional set of caring eyes and ears watching out for their scholar.
Scholars build a deeper sense of community within mentor groups, participating in mentor competition during all school meetings, and pushing one another towards academic success as they compete with other mentor groups for PRIDE points.
Scholars have the opportunity to explore their passions and interests in weekly enrichment. Enrichment is led by teachers and community partners and happens during the school day to ensure all scholars have the opportunity to participate. Scholars will have the opportunity to show case their work quarterly to the RVLA community.
We provide an anti-racist environment where teachers and curriculum are diverse and mirror our scholars. Ensuring we provide as many opportunities as possible for critical thinking in all subject areas, allowing for scholars to critically analyze and reflect on what has occurred pre and post colonialism in all discipline areas. It is paramount that scholars who rarely have representation in curriculum begin to see themselves in the teachings, building confidence in who they are debunking myths and stereotypes that are contrary to who they are. We believe in culturally responsive education that allows for connections between academics and real life lived experiences.
Our scholars read books that mirror them, they cognitively learn math and have rich math conversations, they look at science through their own lived experiences. Curriculum is cross curricular, meaning subject areas build upon one another as much as possible to increase engagement, collaboration, and critical thinking.
College and career ready:
We believe that scholars should leave RVLA prepared for college and career with the tools and skills to succeed in life and leadership. No system has the right to choose a child’s success, the individual should be able to choose their path knowing they have numerous opportunities because they are prepared for all pathways. Scholars are introduced to college readiness beginning in 6th grade, learning their strengths, and developing their ideas around their future goals of success.
Sankofa is our model for supporting restorative justice in our school setting. Sankofa is a word in the Twi language of Ghana that means to “Go back and get it”. It is often depicted as a bird flying forward and looking backwards. This means we take wisdom from the past to remake our future; grow from mistakes; look to the past for guidance, yet always move forward. We believe in reflecting upon behaviors, reinforcing the ones that support success, and reflecting on misbehaviors to learn to replace them with more positive behaviors through restorative practices. We use a point system where scholars can never be deducted points that rest upon our P.R.I.D.E. rubric; Perseverance, Responsibility, Integrity, Drive, and Excellence. We push for PRIDE in every space, and in everything we do.
Soft Skills & Mental Wellness:
We teach scholars and staff social-emotional skills:
- Social awareness: advocating for self and others through empathy and observation
- Relationship skills: Building relationships with others across diverse perspectives, and positively dealing with conflict
- Self Awareness: better understanding one's own emotions, strengths and growths
- Self management: learning to self regulate strong emotions, and how to leverage emotions for successful goal completion
- Responsible decision making: developing an ethical moral compass that supports emotional and physical behaviors
- Scholars learn these skills through curriculum, circles, and course work
It takes a village to raise a child. We invite elders and community into the building to be a part of the learning community and interact with scholars to support the overall health and success of our community. Our education model is for all scholars regardless of race, religion, gender, or ability. We embrace our community, understanding a school must be a part of the community, and the community a part of the school. Our school will serve our community, housing critical thinkers, as a hub of innovation, learning, and collaborating with one another during and after school hours is a normal occurrence.
We provide opportunities for our school community to support community service in the community, internships, and entrepreneurship with community stakeholders and partners. We believe our scholars are the change we want to see, so we cultivate leadership opportunities to facilitate growing scholars local and global civic leadership skills they can use in the future to effect change to dismantle systems of oppression.
We believe in acknowledging the urgency of dealing with racism on a daily basis. We provide safe spaces for our scholars and staff to discuss racism based on their real life experiences. We train our teachers to take feedback from scholars advocating against racism to continuously grow as educators in the space, and allowing for scholars to grow as activists in the space. We deal with bias, racism, and micro-aggressions seriously, actively, and urgently; we recognize racism may make adults uncomfortable, but it directly harms scholars. We are in the business of putting scholars first, no adult can be in our space and not be practicing anti-racism. We have ongoing professional development that supports anti-racism with our staff.
Our teachers pull from standards aligned curriculum resources to develop culturally relevant materials for scholars. The following are the primary curriculum sources for each content area.
Social Studies- various
Music: varies (Orchestra, Strings, Media Podcast)
College Readiness- Naviance
ELA intervention- Lexia
Math intervention- Khan Academy
Valor Compass Camp
Committee for Children
Culturally Transformative Teacher Training (CT3)
Willie Austin Foundation
Boys and Girls Club of King County
King County Library
Fred Hutch Cancer Center
Rainier Valley Church Cafe
Rainier Family Food Bank
First Place Early Learning Center