Community Agreements

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You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

-Mahatma Gandhi

What Makes HCA a Community?

Our faculty, students and families are asked to abide by the following Community Agreements:

  • At HCA we will be patient. This means we won’t rush the teachers and students. We will be understanding about time and remember that this isn’t a regular school system and things are going to be different. This means we will be kind, courteous, and accept delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed.
  • At HCA we will be helpful. This means if someone is sad or frustrated we will help them with emotional support. We will also provide physical support like setting things up, cleaning, carrying, etc., even when it is only for the benefit of others. We will always be kind by trying to understand the problem and do our best to help. If we can’t provide help ourselves then we will get someone who can.
  • At HCA we will be productive. When in groups or alone we will turn in the highest quality work at all times and will stay on task no matter what distraction may be near. We will constantly work to improve the school and ourselves.
  • At HCA we will be honest. This means we will be fair to all people even if it’s hard because we know it is best for everyone. We will not cheat or lie. We will follow the rules and do the right thing even when no one is watching.
  • At HCA we will be safe. We will follow directions carefully, use caution when needed and make smart choices so as not to hurt anyone or their feelings. We will think about everyone and everything that might be affected by our decisions and actions before doing them. We will always use language that welcomes, and makes others feel protected and avoid language that makes other community members feel judged or put down.
  • At HCA we will be leaders. This means we will listen to each other’s thoughts, needs and feelings. As a leader we will take responsibility for our own success and support others success by being an example. Leaders will be responsible for themselves and their group at all times.
  • At HCA we will be upstanders. This means we will make sure that people who cause harm to others know their affect on the community and that those actions are unacceptable. We will do this by showing that no matter what, we will stand up for our community agreements.
  • At HCA we will be respectful. This means we will show that we value individual differences and opinions by listening to others’ ideas with positive regard and appreciation. We will show we value each individual of our community and what they contribute to it as a whole. We will treat all people, their things, and their ideas with courtesy.

HCA Guiding Principles

Partially adapted from the Coalition of Essential Schools Common Principles and the Expeditionary Learning Design Principles

Growth and Self-Discovery. Learning happens best with emotion, challenge, and the requisite support; it is both a personal process of discovery and a shared activity. Students become increasingly responsible for directing their own learning while growing in reliance on their school and home communities. We help students discover that they can do more than they think they can.

Investigation. Making sense of our world is a shared enterprise. When topics, resources and tasks are interesting and complex, students can develop meaningful questions and answers. Wonder and curiosity drive investigation, projects and audiences focus and deepen it, independence and interdependence keep it progressing.

Diversity and Inclusion. We invite, welcome, and genuinely engage with all people as a daily practice. By honoring all backgrounds (including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, and immigration status), we build equitable opportunities and respect for others. We deliberately and explicitly challenge all forms of inequity.

The Natural World. A direct and respectful relationship with the natural world nourishes the human spirit. We teach students to love and appreciate their natural surroundings so that students are more likely to become stewards of the earth for future generations. Also, a critical awareness of the relationship of people to the places they live helps students make decisions that sustain healthy communities and ecosystems.

Depth Leads to Breadth. Consequential learning happens when students develop a deep understanding of one context or topic and then transfer and adapt this understanding to new contexts and topics. A focus on depth of learning takes dedicated time and high-quality resources and practices. As students develop their knowledge base, complex mental models, and positive habits of work and learning, a long-term result is greater depth AND breadth of understanding.

Service & Compassion. We are crew, not passengers. Our learning community intentionally nurtures the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service. Service and compassion are based in humility, empathy, understanding, and helpfulness. Students and teachers strengthen themselves and their communities through acts of consequential service.

Learning for a Changing World. Combining skills and knowledge with principled imagination is how we create the world we all want to live in. We look to the past and to other perspectives to help us make decisions about the future; we recognize the strengths and limitations of technology and innovation; we identify true progress as that which can benefit all people and our planet.