Unique Course Offerings
New Leaf offers several experiences created specifically for our students over the last 15 years.
Being 101 From our bedrock belief that “encouraged people do not misbehave” we make encouragement our primary objective. We achieve this through several age-appropriate versions of our course Being 101, which teaches social awareness and problem solving skills. Students learn to analyze stressful situations and implement plans for peaceful solutions. In this course we’ve synthesized content from several significant emotional literacy programs and strengthened them with highly effective techniques we’ve developed at New Leaf over the last 15 years.
New Leaf’s Mentorship Project, which our older students can qualify to participate in, is an idea borrowed from Harvard professor Howard Gardner. Students in the Mentorship Project are paired with local business owners, where once a week during the second semester they serve as an unpaid apprentice performing entry level work, solving real life problems in real time, and developing an additional layer of adult support. Our participants connect with the real world in a supervised setting to develop their work ethic, see the need for continued education, and gain the satisfaction of mastering new skills while building their work resume.
The Volunteership Program, a companion program to Mentorship, is offered to develop team-player skills and community involvement in our younger students. Throughout the second semester service projects are undertaken in a supervised setting. Past projects include beach clean-ups, improvements to the Jarboe Park Butterfly Garden and assistance with the Neptune Beach Library’s fundraisers. Students are encouraged to propose their own projects. These endeavors accumulate on a student’s volunteer resume and are significant groundwork for college admissions later in their academic career.
Fine Arts New Leaf School strongly supports the arts for students with special needs. All New Leaf students have the option of receiving instruction in a musical instrument.
WITT meetings are held once a quarter; a guardian of each student is required to attend. WITT, which stands for We’re In This Together, is our version of a parent-teacher association. From the beginning, this union of parents with fellow parents, combined with the teachers, has been essential to New Leaf’s success in reaching students who were not successful in other environments. The caring relationships formed between families foster the patience needed to endure the difficult period students often experience before breaking through to new ways of being. WITT meetings are a prime opportunity for discussion and parent input. A student’s continued enrollment is based on parental attendance.
Supplemental issues relevant to raising school-age children are explored during the remaining five months of the school year via parent support/study groups that meet in the homes of New Leaf’s families. These meetings allow families to socialize and support one another in making changes that benefit their children, as well as strengthen their families.
Parents’ Weekend, an annual retreat at the end of September, lets New Leaf parents gather together at Epworth-By-The-Sea on St. Simons Island in Georgia. During this time we strengthen our connections to one another and explore the Being 101 curriculum used in the classrooms so parents can speak the same emotional language and use the same problem solving strategies as the students and staff. Families that cannot attend, participate in three moderately priced classes during the school year which cover the same material explored during the weekend retreat.
Annual Camping Trip A special event reserved for the Middle School is a yearly field trip each October to Driftwood Education Center, a natural science & history camp, located on St. Simons Island in Georgia. Students spend 3 days and 2 nights learning about the natural world around them, scientific processes, and team building skills. Since emphasis is placed on team building and cooperation, these few days regularly transform the individual students into a dynamic team. This is a required field trip for all middle school students.
Christmas Play This “sweet-repeat” performance of our Christmas Play, based on the classic poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, holds fresh surprises each year. Each student selects the form of participation that feels comfortable to him or her. The performance is followed by a social gathering for the New Leaf families and is our group Christmas party.
All-School Picnic On the second Wednesday in May the entire school spends the day together at Howell Park, an equipment-less nature preserve in Atlantic Beach, where Sherry Drive and Seminole Road come together. Throughout the day students and their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles explore the winding nature trails, play kickball, feast on fried chicken and watermelon, and take part in our zany afternoon races. This is a wonderful experience of the unity and support the New Leaf students give to one another and a beautiful way to witness the power of the multi-age classroom experience.
Sunset Ceremony is our annual end-of-the-year gathering where we recognize student accomplishments and upcoming transitions. It is also the ceremony for our graduating seniors. This celebration has become one of the most cherished traditions among our families, students, and staff.