Mission & Vision
Together Heroic Things Happen
Highlands School is a nurturing environment in which the school staff, parents and the community plant the seeds of lifelong learning and responsible citizenship in every student.
Beginning as far back as 1995, Highlands’ teachers and parents became interested in the implications of recent brain research for effective instructional practices. Best practices had been pulled together in a strategy formerly called Integrated Thematic Instruction (ITI), now known as Highly Effective Teaching (HET). HET is our shared model of instruction based on the effective implementation of research about how our human brains function and dedicated to the development of participating citizens. HET explains "how" we teach the California grade level content standards, which define "what" we teach. Our shared commitment to this model of instruction ensures a coherent, consistent experience for our students as they proceed through the grade levels.
Our 593 students in grades K to 5 come to us from neighborhoods near and far. Our students speak 17 different languages at home. They come with strengths and with challenges. The first HET Learning Principle is “Intelligence is a function of experience.” We believe that all students are capable of learning to high standards because “Intelligence – defined as problem solving and/or product producing capability – is the result of real physiological change in the brain that occurs as a result of sensory input, processing, organizing, and pruning.” It is therefore our challenge to design the experiences that foster the development of intelligence in each student. We organize the standards-based curriculum into rich, interesting thematic units of instruction, which connect learning between disciplines and link to significant big ideas.
We endeavor further to help each child understand that s/he has a role in making our community into the kind of place that we all want to live – a respectful community in which we support each other to be the best people that we can be. The LIFESKILLS program at Highlands School is the foundation of our school culture. We emphasize and model the characteristics that we want children to develop and demonstrate – trustworthiness, truthfulness, integrity, courage, caring, friendship, common sense, etc. Our parents embrace these LIFESKILLS and model them in their generous contributions of time and talent.
We recognize that the challenge of helping all students to reach proficiency is unprecedented and we must learn a tremendous amount if we are going to succeed at this. We, teachers and parents, come to this challenge as dedicated learners. We understand that teachers are the single most significant controllable factor in student achievement. Our school is truly a learning community in which we are willing to be held accountable for the progress of every child’s learning.
Kovalik and Olsen, Exceeding Expectations: A User’s Guide to Implementing Brain Research in the Classroom, 2002, page A.3