True to its name and rooted in its culture, every student at Círculos is part of a tight-knit learning circle of peers, teachers, and community members.
How Does Círculos Rethink High School?
When Santa Ana Unified School District leaders entered the XQ Super School competition, they wanted to design a school that would help students break through what they describe as the "Orange Wall,” a barrier to access and opportunity that surrounds students on all sides. As the design team explained in their application, “there exists a school district and community of over 50,000 students where 91% of students live in poverty in the midst of the wealth of Orange County, California.” They designed Círculos to break through this wall by ensuring the assets of the community are collectively owned and woven into the learning experience. Students choose their place-based learning projects hosted by Círculos partners, who include the Heritage Museum of Orange County and the Grand Central Arts Center in Santa Ana. Students come together in a circle to start their day with a discussion of their personal goals, victories, and setbacks and set the trajectory for their daily learning. Circles are formed to discuss academic topics and develop strong, supportive personal relationships with peers and teachers. These circles also build social capital with community leaders. Early academic results are promising, especially for special education students and English Language Learners.
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