jefferson scholar program

Basic Information of the Jefferson Scholar Program at Paradigm High School


Goals of the Jefferson Scholar Program:

  • To help scholars learn to think for themselves
  • To help scholars move beyond the State Standards/Common Core skills
  • To help scholars learn to study with strength using the skills of a scholar
  • To help scholars recognize the power within themselves to learn, grow, become, understand, analyze, overcome fear, find courage, and the power they have to become truly free.

Work expectations and goals of scholars in the Jefferson Scholar Program:

  • Scholars will work through the honors Portfolio Guide through the semester.   If they complete that, they will then create a Contract for their own personal study.
  • Scholars will study to exhaustion and beyond (approximately six to ten hours per week).
  • Scholars will be expected to purchase their curriculum books for the year at the beginning of the year.
  • Scholars will Read, Think, Discuss, Write.
  • Scholars will come up with Real Questions, Real Answers, and present authentic achievements to Real Audiences.
  • Scholars will produce Quality and Authentic products for presentation to the Real Audience.
  • What is Quality?
  • Authenticity – Scholars will learn to say something real
  • Length – Scholars will keep their Sacred Promise to themselves.  How long a product takes to produce or should be is how long it takes to complete the whole thought and help others understand what is being conveyed.
  • Think for yourself – Scholars will learn to generate and convey an original idea.

Conduct expectations of scholars in the Jefferson Scholar Program:

The Jefferson Scholar Program is not for you if:

  • You struggle with respecting your peers, mentors, parents, friends, YOURSELF, etc.
  • You struggle keeping your commitments
  • You struggle with being in dress code
  • You struggle with not having your phone immediately and continuously available (Includes music, Google, texting, etc.) 
  • Disrespecting the technology rules at Paradigm
  • You are not self-driven or self-disciplined
  • You want to be in the Program because your friends are

How the Jefferson Scholar Program works:

  • The first few weeks of class time during first semester will be strictly dedicated to learning the Skills of a Scholar.
  • This is a ‘4’ class or a ‘1’ class (pass or fail class).  Scholars either do the work to quality or they fail the class.   No ‘2’s or ‘3’s as a final grade will be given.
  • Scholars will use these Skills of a Scholar to research, take notes, and organize the information in their Portfolio.  They will then take exams throughout the semester using their notes.   If they do not answer all the questions on the exam correctly they will write down the theme of the question and will do additional research and take notes on that topic to retake the questions they missed the first time around.
  • If a scholar completes the Essential Curriculum and Skills Portfolio during the semester, they will Scholars create a contract outlining their personal study, guided by the mentor, to complete during the semester. In this contract the scholar will state specifically what they will do, and when.  Each contract will be different, but must focus on classics, original sources, and real experiences.  They will create and complete a second portfolio for their personal study.
  • Scholars will use some of their in-class time to STUDY and to practice and work on skills they need to master in order to propel themselves forward.
  • It is expected that scholars will study, practice, and work for this class approximately six to ten hours per week.  Three to six of those hours will be during class time.
  • In addition to the Essential Curriculum and Skills Portfolio being completed, there are other necessary Curriculum and Skills that need to be completed:
    • Scholars will arrange with a mentor in their seminar level to teach a class on items from the Essential Curriculum and Skills Portfolio Guide.  They will work with that mentor to find a time and appropriate content to teach to their peers.
    • Scholars will write an excellent Analytical or Syntopical paper on an IDEA which will be peer reviewed and revised several times.
    • Scholars will read this excellent paper to an audience at the end of the semester.
    • Scholars will find a skill they need to improve and will work on improvement.
    • Scholars will read and discuss the books from their seminar level.

What we as mentors will do:

There will be two mentors available for the Scholars. This is both to give the scholars access to different experts as well as to reinforce that this is their education, and we are a support. We will not be occupying the time through direct instruction, but will do the following: 

  • Guide scholars in completing their Portfolios.
  • Help scholars evaluate the quality of their work.       
  • Coach skills as needed. This will be done either when the Scholars ask for it, or they accept our invitation for guidance to improve in weak areas.
  • Provide opportunities for the Scholars to publish and present their work to real audiences.
  • Hold scholars to their contracts through frequent dialogue and feedback.

How parents can be involved in their scholar’s education through the Jefferson Scholar Program:

The work of a Scholar is not limited to the classroom. Being a scholar is about changing academic work to match the increased capacity to take on responsibilities and work independently.  There are a few things that families can do to help foster a more mature learning mindset.

  • Provide a study space. Environment influences mindset. So, scholars should have a place that they associate with focused learning to study in, not sleep or play.
  • Give stewardships, not tasks. Chores at home should parallel the expected academic work. Oliver DeMille recommends that parents give their scholar-age children stewardships rather than tasks. They should be responsible for one aspect of the household rather than doing chores only when asked.
  • Speak to them as an adult, if they have earned it.
  • Discuss their learning at home. Taking someone’s ideas seriously, by understanding and questioning them, does more to validate study than trite compliments or praise.

How to apply for the Jefferson scholar Program:

There are four parts to the application process:

  • Each scholar will have an interview with two or three mentors. The interviews will be held after school. The interview is a chance for scholars to evaluate themselves, their desire to learn, and their goals. Our goal is not to keep people out, but to help them make a committed choice.
  • Scholars will bring with them to the interview a project of art, writing, math, science, or anything that represents who they are and where they are going.
  • They will also bring a letter of recommendation by a parent that explains why the scholar is ready for the Scholar Phase.
  • Scholars will have a mentor turn in a form of recommendation.