Middle & High School FAQ
Who are the students at SOLA Middle & High School?
Our middle and high school student community consists of 3 mixed ages/grade learning circles- 7th/8th, 9th/10th, and 11th/12th. Each circle will have 12-15 learners, for a total of 36-45 students. Full and part time enrollment may result in varying numbers in the daily student population.
SOLA learners are inwardly self directed, innately curious, creative, & inspired by life & learning. They value the challenges of academic engagement, deep self inquiry, courageous adventure, outrageous creativity, diverse, relational learning, & have an authentic desire to reverently, joyfully, meaningfully participate in Earth’s community of life. SOLA learners learn by doing and experiencing...rather than being told what to do. They are called to engage a learning journey that goes beyond the limitations of a traditional secondary schooling environment.
What are SOLA’s flexible enrollment options?
SOLA offers flexible enrollment, allowing families to craft a schedule of courses that meets their needs and honors their intentions for middle and high school education.
Full Enrollment: Participation in all Thematic Lessons, all Academic Focus Classes, and all Trimester Classes.
Thematic Lesson blocks only: Full year or select individual blocks. Block themes are typically 3-6 weeks in duration.
Trimester and Elective Classes: Enrollment in a single or multiple Trimester based classes for one Trimester, or 12-13 weeks
Internships: Scope, duration, and fees are based on independent relationships/teacher student preferences
How do students at School of Living Arts learn?
SOLA’s enlivened academics, thematic lesson topics, and a weekly rhythm of academic focus classes support a holistic understanding of subjects, while providing a deep encounter with the thematic subject through primary sources and the wisdom of SOLA’s skilled learning stewards and faculty. SOLA’s internships, electives and apprenticeships engage students’ curiosities and passions through learning partnerships in the greater community, where students gather real life experience of their artistic, professional or vocational interests. Emerging life skills are encouraged through skilled mentorship, expeditionary learning, and global travel, which provide diverse contexts for deep, relational learning.
Thematic Lessons are expanded, 1.5-2 hour learning sessions that offer an opportunity for students to experience depth, relevance and interconnectedness within a thematic topic. Thematic Lessons are are offered in blocks that are typically 3-6 weeks in duration. Thematic Lesson presentations are not derived from a textbook, but are instead derived from primary source materials and presented through the teacher’s unique, authentic voice, and ensouled understanding of the subject matter. Thematic lessons often take place in alternate venues (outside the SOLA campus) that enrich the context and content of themes. For example- a civics and government theme might utilize the halls of local city or county governments and their surroundings; lessons during an art history theme might utilize local museums or the studios of artists.
Academic Focus Classes
Academic Focus classes are offered in shorter, 30-45 minute sessions, 2-3 times per week, or through online platforms. Focus Classes often utilize textbooks or course-books, and provide secondary schooling academics through lecture, practice or independent work. Through focus classes, students will become comfortable with, and receive an authentic context for, more traditional classroom methodologies. Academic Focus Classes include math, language arts, foreign language.
Life Skills and Cultural Immersion
Our SOLA students are offered a unique opportunity to develop important life skills and experience themselves as cultural beings within a global culture through our Global Village International Immersion programs. Each year, SOLA students work together to raise funds for their trip to established international and domestic venues. These expeditionary learning experiences are guided by skilled mentors, teachers and expeditionary educators, who encourage group synergy and support the students’ development of important life skills that will carry them through their adventure, and into adult life beyond.
Internships and Electives
SOLA’s internships and elective courses take place on our campus and at various local artistic and professional venues. These immersive classes are offered in trimesters, with an option to extend the duration of the learning experience. Our learning relationships are always expanding, and internships opportunities currently include studio arts, green building, equine arts, blacksmithing, animal rescue, studio recording, radio broadcasting, and much more.
Nature Immersion and Animal Connection
Our 90 acre campus surrounded by Pisgah National Forest and hosts a working farm with horses, sheep, chickens, rabbits and abundant wildlife. This pristine natural setting invites daily nopportunity for incidental and intentional connections to the natural world
What are some highlights of SOLA’s educational approach?
SOLA is process oriented while at the same time valuing the products of our learning processes
SOLA values the essential human virtues of truth, beauty and goodness, and cultivates these elements by emphasizing aesthetics, enlivened sciences, ontology and inter-being, and nature
SOLA embodies a culture of feedback that reverently guides and assists the learner’s process, teaching them how to think, not what to think.
We strive to create a sense of belonging, & offer group learning that is inclusive and honors individual talents & skills
SOLA learning supports life skills outside of typical content areas. Examples include time and resource management, travel, cooking, peace studies, etc.
Our thematic and focus curriculum and approach offers interconnected and layered understanding of concepts presented.
Our culture of care and group learning experiences encourage self responsibility and personal accountability
How will SOLA support the transition into college, career path, adulthood?
Students will emerge from their SOLA learning journey with the self-awareness, life skills, inspiration and courage to fully embrace their life-path, whether they plan to attend a college of their choice, engage a vocation, launch a business, or freely explore the world. SOLA faculty will work with students and parents to prepare a graduation portfolio and comprehensive transcript including quantitative and qualitative evaluations that holistically reflect their learning. In partnership with AB Technical College, SOLA will offer AP academic courses in several subjects for 11th and 12th grade students. Credits earned in these courses can be applied towards an associate’s degree.
Colleges and universities are currently revolutionizing their admission process and requirements to acknowledge the well rounded learning that occurs within the emerging shift towards holistic education. Many now include student graduation portfolios as part of their entry evaluations. Our learning stewards and faculty will assist parents and students as they create a portfolio of their work and experience at SOLA. A graduation portfolio invites the student to gather and document a diverse treasury of their learning experiences, to be submitted to the college of their choice, alongside a transcript. During the 11th and 12th grade years, two portfolio planning units are offered so that students can receive support and give the appropriate space and consideration to the portfolio creation process.
How does School of Living Arts document and capture a student’s learning experience?
SOLA uses a combination of qualitative assessments (narrative) and quantitative assessments (rubrics, quizzes, graphs, & other data based efforts), in several formats. Assignments and projects throughout the year are evaluated in different ways, depending on the goals of the assignment, and the student’s preferences around feedback. At the end of each programming year, SOLA faculty create a comprehensive student report, that includes a narrative biography, quantitative assessments/grades, as well as teacher observations regarding the student’s social, emotional, academic, and life skills development during the year, as it pertains to each subject area. Here are some examples of our approach:
Work Portfolios and Thematic Lesson Books: Students work with faculty and parents to create a comprehensive graduation portfolio, which will include Thematic Lesson Books/Projects, research projects, work or writing samples, art, multi-media presentations, etc. A thematic unit is dedicated to this process at the culmination of the 11/12th grade years
Quantitative Assessments: SOLA’s academic focus classes offer quantitative assessments, while also providing a balancing context for these kinds of concise assessments, to inwardly and outwardly prepare SOLA students to encounter these methods in their educational journey beyond SOLA. Students and their families can choose how they wish to receive feedback and reflection- grades, pass/fail, or other concise indicators.
Sharing Through Multiple Intelligences: SOLA students are asked to engage creative ways of sharing their learning through multiple intelligences and arts integration. Visual displays, multi-media presentations, art, dramatization, and demonstrations, are a few examples
Student Led Conferences: SOLA’s students participate in ‘self and other’ assessments, including feedback loops that capture varying perspectives (E.g. student to student, teacher to student, student to teacher, student to self). This approach is articulated through 2 student led conferences each year.
How is SOLA organized- a private school, charter, home school co-operative?
SOLA is part of an emergent movement called Community Supported Education. The CSE approach was inspired by Community Supported Agriculture programs, where members pay a fee for services/farm products, while providing economic and participatory support to the the farm. Working within the CSE framework, SOLA and it's teachers, parents and staff provide the learning environment, and member-families reciprocate by gifting their time, energy and monetary resources to SOLA.
As participants in an exciting, much needed revolutionary movement in secondary education, SOLA’s parent-staffed governance circle maintains regular contact with the North Carolina Department of Non-Public Education, to ensure that we are offering the highest quality educational experience within the NC guidelines for co-operative schooling. Our member families are required to register as a home school with the NCDNPE, a very simple, one-time process.