Thank you all for supporting the TOPA Community!
At The Odyssey Preparatory Academy we strive to create a culture that values risk-taking and responsibility. We continuously strive to model, teach, and prioritize the development of this culture. Our school motto declares: “Navigating Knowledge and Creating Character.” We give equal billing to the development of academic skills and moral compass. Empirical studies have now destroyed the arguments for the self-esteem movements begun in the 1970’s and so prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s . In fact, they have shown that the emphasis on self-esteem has actually done much to damage the self-concept and self-confidence of our children.
We use the Love and Logic program because, with proper implementation, it has been proven to produce or create: 1. Highly supportive and loving families and schools. 2. Parents who establish open communication with their children. 3. Positive parent-teacher relationships and parent involvement. 4. Positive school climate. 5. Appropriate standards for behavior at home and school (i.e., limits). 6. Positive school and parental discipline. 7. Positive relationships between children and adults other than parents. 8. High achievement motivation and aspirations. 9. Learning to use empathy with others. 10. Decision-making skills. 11. Self-esteem. 12. Hope, or a positive view, of the world and the future. As a school, it is our goal to nurture self-confident, empathetic, life-long learners who are prepared to lead their generation. We believe that our commitment to Love and Logic methodology is key to accomplishing this goal.
As stated by the Arizona Department of Education, “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards are the culmination of an extended, broad-based effort to fulfill the charge issued by the states to create the next generation of K–12 standards in order to help ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy and mathematics no later than the end of high school.”
As a public charter school, Odyssey is required to teach the ACCR standards and does so with fidelity. These standards are a not a prescribed curriculum but a set of rigorous skills that each child is expected to master at the end of each grade level. These standards are taught through the Odyssey’s chosen curricula. For a complete set of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards please visit: http://www.azed.gov/standards-practices
Our school district is excited to announce the launch of a new online service* that will allow you to monitor your children’s lunchtime purchases, track what your children have been eating for the past 30 days, make deposits directly into their meal accounts, and have an email reminder sent to you when an account balance gets low. Student debit account deposits can be made through ACH payments or by credit card. Each child’s account will be updated throughout the day. In order to take advantage of this convenient new service, you will need to create a parent account. This requires you to:
After you receive the “verification code” you may begin to add your children’s information. To do this, you will need to:
Note: A parent account can be linked to many children, but a child can only be linked to one parent.
We urge you to take full advantage of this system by making deposits into your children’s accounts on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. You are free to choose the amount of each deposit. Any money that is not spent by the end of the school year will be available the following school year. If you have any questions about this or any other food service program, please contact Healthy Innovations Office at 520-495-5533.
How is my child really doing? What are they good at? What can I help them with at home?
If you are like most parents, these are the main things you want to know about your child’s progress in school. You are not alone!! At TOPA, we have been working to create a more complete and concise way to communicate with parents their scholars’ strengths and areas where their child could use more support. We are extremely excited to implement standards-based grading this year as a way to allow parents and teachers the ability to dial in on the specific skills each child needs to learn at their grade level to give parents a more complete picture of how their child is really doing in class.
What is Standards-Based Grading?
Standards-based grading, sometimes called proficiency grading, is a method for teachers to measure how students are doing in meeting the learning goals for their grade level as determined by their state’s standards. Learning goals, sometimes called learning targets, objectives, or standards, are the academic skills your child should know or be able to do for his grade level by the end of the school year.
Standards-based report cards give a grade for each learning goal, so students receive multiple grades in each subject area. In 5th grade math, for example, you’ll see the subject broken into several categories, such as operations/algebraic thinking and fractions. Under each category, you’ll see a list of math skills your child should be able to do, as well as a grade showing how your child is doing.
How a child performs on academic tasks such as assignments and assessments are not the only factor contributing to their success in school. Work habits and behavior—what TOPA and the IB program call Approaches to Learning—are graded separately to take into account not only academics, but how each child navigates the skills they need to be successful in school. Behaviors such as completing tasks on time, going to class prepared, working cooperatively with others and contributing positively to class discussions are as equally important to building a child’s success in school as is how they do on a math test. This year, you will see how your child is progressing on these work habits, behaviors, or Approaches to Learning (ATLs) in addition to the typical subject specific grades. This ability to look at how your child achieves on academic tasks as well as work habits will allow you and your child’s teacher to provide more targeted and specific support exactly to any areas with which a child may be struggling, ultimately allowing a child to get back on track more quickly.
How Standards-Based Grades Differ From Traditional Letter Grades
Providing grades for academic proficiency and work habits gives parents more information about the areas in which their child needs to improve than the traditional letter grading system. The traditional grading system combines many elements—test scores, quizzes, completed homework, classroom participation, coming to school on time, extra credit—and averages the semester’s work into a percentage that correlates with a letter grade.
Miguel Boriss, an 8th grade science teacher in Bellingham, Wash., explains letter grades this way: “One student might bring home a B because she did all the work, turned in all her homework, and participated in class but didn’t quite understand the concepts. Another student might bring home a B because he aced all the tests and quizzes but didn’t do any of the homework and didn’t participate in class,” he says. “Each student earns the same grade but for very different reasons, and the grade doesn’t tell parents very much about what the student knows.”
Because standards-based report cards separate the two, you can see if your child needs help with an academic concept or can’t remember to turn in homework. Both should be addressed. An overarching goal in education these days is to develop students who not only master academic content but also demonstrate attributes for successful learning beyond school.
How Progress Is Measured
This year, TOPA will begin to use a four-part scale to denote levels of achievement with descriptors such as:
Approaches to Learning (Behaviors) will be graded using the following scale:
While there will be standards (or learning targets) that scholars work on all year long, they will be graded each quarter on what they are expected to know by the end of the quarter. So, for example, if your scholar’s learning target is to learn her multiplication tables by the end of the year, her proficiency grade in the first quarter might be to have learned tables 1-3, in the second quarter to have mastered tables 1-6, and so on.
How Do You Know How Your Child Is Doing?
Keep in mind that a 3 or “proficient” isn’t the same as a B. It means your child has met state standards, and that’s good! (In fact, The new Common Core standards will be raising the academic bar.)
Also, even top students can earn a 2 or “approaching proficiency” grade, which can be a shock for some families. But it’s more important to know if your child is struggling with a concept than to see a slew of top grades because of stellar work habits. On the upside, early low scores aren’t averaged into the final grade—so once your child masters the concept, her final grade shows that. Along the way, TOPA recommends checking your school’s online reporting system and communicating with your child’s teachers before problems go too far. “The report card should never come as a surprise,” he says.
Level 4, or the top level, may be the trickiest to understand. If your child earned A’s on traditional report cards, she may have received them for meeting the teacher’s requirements, not necessarily for excelling at or going beyond grade level according to state standard. In the new system, 4’s may be harder to come by (and 3’s should be celebrated). However, earning 4’s should be achievable in the classroom, In each TOPA classroom, the teacher will offer opportunities for students to excel and reach level 4 when applicable. Communicating with your child’s teacher will be key to understanding their progress towards grade level standards.
The important thing is that your child is learning and making progress. Celebrate learning, and the grades will follow!
The Odyssey Preparatory Family of Schools provides the Parent and Scholar Handbook so that all scholars and their parents are familiar with the guidelines, operations, scholar responsibilities and policies regarding the school and enrollment.
The State of Arizona will reimburse you dollar for dollar up to $400 for those filing jointly and up to $200 for those filing single on your contributions to our school. These contributions will support activities that are considered extracurricular. Extracurricular activities include:
We are encouraging all our families to include The Odyssey Family of Schools (The Odyssey Preparatory Academy and The Odyssey Institute for Advanced and International Studies) as one of your yearly charitable donations. If you donate $400 to Odyssey, and you are eligible for reimbursement, you will receive $400 back from the state of Arizona. If you owe the state taxes this donation will reduce the amount you owe by $400. A contributor can also deduct this donation on the federal tax form.
The Odyssey Preparatory Academy follows the state of Arizona policy surrounding AZMerit testing.
The Core Knowledge Sequence© is a detailed outline of specific content to be taught in language arts, history, geography, mathematics, science and the fine arts. It is a guide to coherent content from grade to grade, designed to encourage steady academic progress as children build their knowledge and skills from one year to the next. (from Core Knowledge Sequence©, The Core Knowledge Foundation, 1998).
Many people say that knowledge is changing so fast that what students learn today will soon be outdated. While current events and technology are constantly changing, there is nevertheless a body of lasting knowledge that should form the core of a Preschool-Grade 8 curriculum. Such solid knowledge includes, for example, the basic principles of constitutional government, important events of world history, essential elements of mathematics and of oral and written expression, widely acknowledged masterpieces of art and music, and stories and poems passed down from generation to generation.
Knowledge builds on knowledge. Children learn new knowledge by building on what they already know. Only a school system that clearly defines the knowledge and skills required to participate in each successive grade can be excellent and fair for all students. For this reason, the Core Knowledge Sequence provides a clear outline of content to be learned grade by grade. This sequential building of knowledge not only helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn, but also helps prevent the many repetitions and gaps that characterize much current schooling (repeated units, for example, on pioneer days or the rain forest, but little or no attention to the Bill of Rights, or to adding fractions with unlike denominators).
A typical state or district curriculum says, “Students will demonstrate knowledge of people, events, ideas, and movements that contributed to the development of the United States.” But which people and events? What ideas and movements? In contrast, the Core Knowledge Sequence is distinguished by its specificity. By clearly specifying important knowledge in language arts, history and geography, math, science, and the fine arts, the Core Knowledge Sequence presents a practical answer to the question, “What do our children need to know?”
Literacy depends on shared knowledge. To be literate means, in part, to be familiar with a broad range of knowledge taken for granted by speakers and writers. For example, when sportscasters refer to an upset victory as “David knocking off Goliath,” or when reporters refer to a “threatened presidential veto,” they are assuming that their audience shares certain knowledge. One goal of the Core Knowledge Foundation is to provide all children, regardless of background, with the shared knowledge they need to be included in our national literate culture.
A balanced education that includes the arts, music, foreign language, and physical education is a hallmark of The Odysssey Preparatory Academy. At the elementary level, PE is held daily, Spanish and Music are held two times a week, with all specials classes being taught by educators whose practice is dedicated to their content area. In music, Kindergarten through 2nd grade scholars are provided with opportunities to pursue vocal music that aligns with the Core Knowledge curriculum. 3rd through 5th grade scholars begin exploring their talents in band and strings classes and build a foundation for performance in Odyssey’s middle school. Spanish classes explicitly teach vocabulary in the younger grades and build to conversational Spanish in the upper grades. Scholars leave our elementary setting with the solid foundation necessary to seemlessly transfer into our IB World Programme. Expectations for student accomplishment in each of our specials areas and across grade levels are high and scholars emerge well prepared for their future endeavors.
Each Odyssey morning begins with Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically. Each morning, students and teachers gather together in a circle for twenty to thirty minutes and interact with one another during four purposeful components:
Students and teachers greet one other by name and practice offering hospitality.
Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners often offer empathetic comments or ask clarifying questions.
Everyone participates in a brief, lively activity that fosters group cohesion and helps students practice social and academic skills (for example, reciting a poem, dancing, singing, or playing a game that reinforces social or academic skills).
Students read and interact with a short message written by their teacher. The message is crafted to help students focus on the work they’ll do in school that day.
For more on the key principles and practices behind Responsive Classroom, visit https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/
The Governing Board of The Odyssey supports the establishment and enforcement of a school uniform. It is their belief that the wearing of a school uniform by students of The Odyssey assists in creating an environment conducive to a quality learning opportunity for the children that attend Odyssey. Parents enrolling their scholars in The Odyssey agree to comply with the Uniform Policy at all times. Uniforms are available for purchase at Absolute Screen Printing, 407 E. Monroe Ave, Buckeye, AZ or Hi Fashion in Avondale, 1450 N Dysart Rd, Avondale, AZ 85323.
At The Odyssey Preparatory Academy, off-site field experiences are an integral part of our curriculum. Field experiences are purposefully designed to integrate and extend classroom learning and either introduce or conclude curriculum concepts. Also, we provide extended, overnight opportunities in our higher grades to enrich the learning experience in amazing ways!
Rocker 7 Farm patch offers an engaging educational experience with an interactive farm tour. Scholars have an opportunity to apply their knowledge of life cycles to agricultural education.
At the Children’s Museum of Phoenix scholars spend time engaged in joyful and constructive educational activities such as the Texture Cafe, Noodle Forest, and Market. According to the Children’s Museum, “Learning needs to be concrete before it can be abstract. Meaningful learning is best facilitated in an environment that is free of criticism and comparisons, where there is freedom to make choices, to take risks, to explore within clear boundaries, and where respect and basic values are encouraged.”
Our scholars will have opportunities to experience exciting, age-appropriate theatre of the highest artistic quality from a variety of sources, including the theater programs at Odyssey Institute.
At the Wildlife World Zoo our scholars utilize their knowledge of habitats of the world as they make connection to the environments suited for a variety of animal species. Scholars observe natural animal behaviors and the life systems they support.
On a visit to the Arizona Museum of Natural History, scholars will take a step back in time and experience history in a hands-on way. They’ll become mini geologists and paleontologists. Scholars will explore geology, including the layers of the earth and types of rocks. Scholars will view actual armor and other historical pieces from the Spanish Colonial collection. Scholars will lean more about the lives of Native Americans. They’ll see Native American art and models of early homes. Scholars will see how our world has changed over time as they view the prehistoric collection. They’ll also specifically see the history of the desert habitat.
At the Arizona Science Center, scholars have the opportunity to extend their learning of the human body by:
Walking through an enormous “working” stomach, complete with the sights, sounds and smells of the digestive process.
Watching surgeries being performed, featuring the techniques of Dr. Edward B. Diethrich, in the Heart Surgery Theater
Testing their heart muscles in the Wheelchair Racers
Exploring the systems of the human body – from defense and immunity to cardio and pulmonary, digestive and skeletal
Hearing their actual heartbeat as it is translated into sound on a bass drum
At Pioneer Living History Village our scholars will step back in time to the Arizona Territorial period, 1863 to 1912, to see and feel how the early pioneers lived and worked in the harsh, unforgiving environment of this diverse land.
Scholars tour the Desert Botanical Gardens to understand how Native Americans utilized their natural resources in order to survive. Native American Unit how they lived of their natural habitat
Scholars leave the classroom and walk through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village. Scholars gain an understanding and appreciation for how archaeology, Arizona history and culture studies can further our understanding of our how and why the past is relevant to the present.
In preparation for choosing their first instrument, scholars visit the Musical Instrument Museum where they have an opportunity to explore the musical instruments and music of the world. In addition to an interactive guided tour, scholars have the opportunity to interact with a variety of instruments in the Experience Gallery.
Scholars visit The Mesquite Wildlife Oasis to study Arizona’s natural resources. The wildlife and habitat trail system provides our scholars with a learning experience that connects classroom lessons to their natural world.
The Grand Canyon trip is the first school sponsored overnight trip for our scholars. Chaperones and scholars spend two nights on the south rim of the canyon. They participate in educational programs and park rangers guide them through Grand Canyon geology, ecology, and human history.
The visit to ASU provides scholars the opportunity to tour the LROC facility where they learn about the moon, past, present and future space exploration, as well as the ability to watch live satellite feeds from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbital Camera. Scholars will also visit the Mars Space Flight Facility where scholars get to learn more about Mars exploration and the Mars Rover.
The Pali Institute, in the mountains north of San Bernardino, California, is an exciting outdoor education camp which is offered to all TOPA 5th graders. This two-day trip allows students hands-on experience with many aspects of biology and ecology. To learn more about the Pali experience go to: www.paliinstitute.com.
*Optional field trip and an extra costs are involved.
There are lots of opportunities for your scholar to enrich their TOPA experience through after-school clubs and activities. Many of the clubs are run by teachers and are based on scholar demand. During the first two weeks of school, teachers will post sign-up sheets for clubs they are interested in sponsoring. Those that get sufficient interest will be offered.
All enrichment clubs have a minimum fee of $20.00 per scholar, per quarter (some clubs are more) and are held from 4:15-5:15 pm. Scholars must be picked up no later than 5:15 pm. At 5:00 pm the front office closes, and all remaining scholars will be sent to aftercare at an additional charge of $5 each time. Aftercare ends at 6:00pm.
Clubs are run quarterly, according to the following schedule:
Quarter 1: 9/6/16 through 10/20/16 (7 weeks)
Quarter 2: 10/24/16 through 12/22/16 (7 weeks) – no clubs meet week of 11/21 and 12/19
Quarter 3: 1/17/17 through 3/9/17 (8 weeks)
Quarter 4: 3/27/17 through 5/25/17 (8 weeks) – no clubs meet week of 5/22
If your scholar has an idea for a club, have them let their teacher know. There might be enough interest! Keep checking this site for updates on club availability.
Some after school programs have been made available to our scholars through third party organizations and are school-hosted but not school-sponsored. All payments, arrangements, and communications are made directly through the class sponsor.
Young Rembrandts. This club is hosted by Odyssey but is sponsored by the Young Rembrandts Organization. They meet in the large flex room at 4:15.
Pokemon Club will meet in Room 9 at 4:15. Please email Mr Wagner with any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art & Soul AZ Club – 4:15 to 5:15, open to scholars K-5
We are excited to continue our amazing after-school programs with Future Stars. Future Stars is one of the fastest growing youth organizations in the valley. Future Stars programs teach athletes the importance of hard work, training on fundamentals and conditioning. Registration for Spring After-School programs is now open. All three elementary campuses will come together at the Goodyear Campus Wednesdays from 4.30-6.00pm. Choose your sport: Volleyball Soccer or Track & Field. Click here to register!
Ambassadors Club (5th Grade Only) – Contact Ms. Jenkins at email@example.com.
Girl Scouts – 4:15 to 6:00. Open to scholars 2nd through 5th. Contact Heather Nellis at (623) 203-1743.
CrossFit Kids – Available for grades K-5. Click here for the flyer or call Cole McGuire at (623) 932-4338.
Check back for more opportunities as the school year begins!
We look forward to seeing our returning scholars and to welcoming our new scholars to the Odyssey Preparatory Family of Schools. Please click the button below for the OI High School campus recommended school supplies.
School Supply List coming soon!
Fee-based before and after care programs are available Monday through Thursday. Before care is available from 6AM to 7AM and After care is available from 4:15PM to 6PM.
A Friday EduCare program is also available to all Odyssey scholars. This is a fee-based program provided by Knight Academy and will run every Friday (except holidays) throughout the school year from 6:00am to 6:00pm. This program includes lunches and any field trips. The Friday EduCare program will take place at Knight Tutoring’s new state-of-the-art facility located at: 560 N Estrella Parkway, Suite B115, Goodyear AZ 85338. For more information visit the Knight Academy website here:
It is the general policy of The Odyssey Preparatory Academy that all scholars are to be picked up at the completion of school and from after school programs by an authorized adult. Please click here and download the waiver if you wish for your scholar to walk home without parental or guardian supervision.
Special education procedures and resources may be found by clicking here.
Scholars taking band are responsible for having their own instruments. Please contact your scholar’s music teacher for any questions regarding this program. There are several options out there. Click here for the Milano instrument rental information.