The Freshman Academy Handbook

Elements of Success

The Freshman Academy @ Washington High School strives to bring about ridiculous success for each student. There are six areas of focus:

     Fantastic classroom instruction

     Facilitating a positive team culture

     Focusing on learning through homework completion

     Figuring out systems that make relationships happen

     Featuring the adults (parents, teachers, and mentors) in the lives of students

     Facilitating leadership training with upperclassmen to bring about learning

This formula has generated a seven-year average of over 94% for first-year high school students successfully transitioning to their sophomore year.

Below is an overview of our mission and purpose. In the blog posts, sorting by “The Freshman Academy Handbook” will provide additional details and articles about how we work with freshmen.

Mission Statement

“Building a bridge to the future for new Warriors to achieve success.”

Our Core Purpose

To mark the beginning of a student’s high school career with

academic success, engagement, and belonging

What we believe

For positively impacting students, nothing beats a unified team of professionals.

  Systemic, consistent, and differentiated actions improve a student’s future.

Understanding a student’s context contributes to success.

Relationships are a catalyst for learning.

 Effective feedback is essential.

Home matters.


 Team Meetings

  • Teachers regularly meet with students to praise and to prod
  • A counselor and teachers collaborate once a week
  • Weekly meetings to evaluate students
    • Counselor comments
    • Parent interview
    • Student interview
    • Cum folder review
    • Three-week, problem-solving process
    • In-depth documentation
  • Management of Freshman Academy interventions
  • Case management
  • Parent contacts
  • Positive Student Recognition


  • Placement with a teacher according to relationship or academic need
  • Students have access to make-up work and missed tests and quizzes
  • Sophomore tutors provide one-on-one tutoring
  • Access to all four core teachers
  • Activity Fairs throughout the year educate and match students with building activities and clubs
  • A coordinated, scripted effort during the first two weeks to educate freshmen on how high school works

Parent Contacts

The teachers average three parent contacts per teacher per week over the course of the school year. The importance of this parent partnership is significant.


The currency of academic success is daily practice. Individual missing   assignments are aggressively pursued; zeros aren’t permitted.  Parents are contacted when a student has five or more missing and/or late assignments. Teachers and the student’s parents extend the school day by an hour twice a week when student progress is below expectation.

Staff Development

On a daily basis, interdisciplinary teams participate in all aspects of 21st Century Skills as they sharpen their professional abilities and add to their teacher toolbox. The Academy Coordinator provides direction and professional learning opportunities at weekly team meetings in order to continually improve our impact on students.

Academy Coordinator

  • Provide over-all direction for The Freshman Academy
  • Support efforts to hold students accountable for homework
  • Lead summer inservices for Academy staff (Summer 2009, 2010)
  • Regularly meet with students
    • Teach a targeted organizational skills class
    • Meet with all students with missing assignments
    • Interview all students that go through Academy “SAT”
    • Join team meetings with students when necessary
  • Liaison with administration, counseling, SPED, and other teams
  • 10-12 leadership development with Link Crew and study/lunch tutors
  • Yearly transition meeting with middle schools
  • Lead weekly staff meeting for each team to monitor progress, sharpen programming, and implement staff development


  • Successfully transition students from 8th grade to 10th grade
  • Increase participation in extracurricular activities and campus life
  • Increase the number of students that graduate in four years
  • Foster healthy relationships between stakeholders to benefit students
  • Create an environment that encourages respect and responsibility
  • Develop study skills that foster long-term academic success


21st Century Skills

Results Now by Mike Schmoker

Assets in Action by Deborah Fisher

Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Wow, What at Team! by Randy Thompson and Dorthy VandeJagt

Professional Learning Communities at Work by R. DuFour and R. Eaker

The Freshman Academy @ Washington High School

Code of Conduct

  1. We will keep parents informed by contacting parents if classroom behavior, attendance or performance is inhibiting student success
  1. We will model organizational skills by:
    • Being on time
    • Following a weekly team agenda
    • Communicating and displaying daily classroom goals & objectives
  1. We consistently enforce school policy.
  2. We will recognize students for achievement, attendance and effort in the following ways:
    • Issuing on-going, world-class feedback
    • One “Pat On The Back” per student per semester
    • Circle of Courage
    • Student Of The Month
  1. We will build relationships by greeting students and staff by name.
  2. We will respect colleagues by:
    • Honoring the absent
    • Collaborating in content areas
  1. On a weekly basis we will identify and actively intervene when there is a significant decrease in student attendance, positive behavior or performance.
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