Staying true to our guiding philosophy of the Hero’s Journey, student input regarding the functioning of the program and community behavior is embodied in this student leadership group. Heroes Council members work together with faculty advisors to uphold the mission of AW and support student integrity as outlined in our Code of Conduct. The Heroes Council encourages collective responsibility for student integrity and the well-being of our community. Moreover, the Heroes Council encourages all members of the AW community to learn from mistakes, make amends, and engage in pro-social behavior. Council members influence the nature and fairness of Restitution Tasks and are integral in restoring justice and a sense of safety and well-being in the community.
Our Expressive Arts Program has always been essential to AW since it provides students with another outlet to work on interpersonal skills, improve executive functioning and have another means of emotional expression. This program is tailored to the preferences of our students and includes such activities as slam poetry, theatrical improvisation, visual art, and music composition. Students are invited to display what they have learned in expressive arts at our Winter Show and end-of-year Community Day when we celebrate their efforts as a community.
Each year we offer extracurricular activities developed to be fun, interesting and that cultivate prosocial behavior among our student body. Typical activities include tabletop gaming club, graphic design, and photography.
Sometimes students need a place where they can receive additional academic support outside of the classroom. Students can attend our Think Tank program where they can meet with an assigned teacher to further develop executive functioning skills, seek content tutoring, or simply have a quiet and supervised place where they can finish their homework.
Caught Being Good
The benefits of prosocial behavior –behavior intended to help other people – are well documented and critical to the positive development of young people. Prosocial behavior has been shown to improve mood, provide social support and reduce stress. In short, we have witnessed repeatedly that being a helper is a useful way for our students to help themselves. So often kids feel they are often caught “being bad” and rarely receive praise for their good citizenship and altruistic behavior. Students at Academics West who conduct themselves in a way that benefits the community can receive a Caught Being Good award. These students enjoy public praise and recognition and, most importantly, feel motivated to continue to help those around them.
To further encourage pro-social opportunities, we have implemented a Mentor Program that not only brings our student population closer together but also aligns with our philosophy of the Hero’s Journey. Students from the Upper Program are paired strategically with their “buddies “in the Lower Program. The duos meet weekly to share lunch, work on collaborative projects, and complete homework assignments. The program provides students the opportunity to practice their social skills, build trust with one another, and create healthy relationships.