At DCIS, we believe students learn best when they take responsibility for themselves and their education. Sometimes that means they’ll fail. But if they accept responsibility for the actions leading to that failure and learn from the experience so that they don’t repeat it, they begin to understand what empowerment means.
So, rather than having paternalistic rules based on rigid expectations, we prefer to give students guidelines that illustrate behavioral best practices. Because we’re a 6–12 school, those guidelines vary between middle school and high school. But all stem from our belief that students learn best when they are given independence and choice, recognizing, of course, that with such freedom comes responsibility.
Students sometimes make poor choices and don’t always handle responsibility well. Rather than implementing stringent rules for everyone based on such situations, we work with those students and their families and teachers to get them on the path to self-empowerment.
Empowered students are confident in making their voice heard. And DCIS provides them with many opportunities to do just that — from leading their parent-teacher conferences to leading the all-school meetings every week to starting and leading our many student clubs.
In the classroom, our faculty nurture student voice by teaching students to argue constructively, advocate appropriately and listen actively, all while being respectful and honoring diverse perspectives.
Empowering students is one of the many ways we prepare them to be interculturally competent citizens who are actively involved in our rapidly changing world.