The Jefferson Scholar Program

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No Scholar Kept Behind

Some students, when confronted with a traditional, presentation-based classroom setting, find themselves yearning for a deeper kind of learning. The Jefferson Scholar Program is designed to meet those needs and more.

Introduction

The Jefferson Scholar Program is a plan to help scholars complete specific high school credits quickly and in an inspired way, so they can move on to studying topics they want to study. Unlike a traditional classroom, the mentors who coordinate the Jefferson Scholar Program do not present information in a lecture. Instead, the scholars are responsible for working through a portfolio guide themselves, creating a compilation of notes, annotated articles, and assessments called a portfolio. Scholars are encouraged to finish this portfolio during the first half of the semester. For the remainder of the semester, scholars complete a plan for studying any topic they want and then follow their plan. This method stimulates growth in a unique way, teaching various study skills through experience and application. 

Is the JSP Right For Me?

The Jefferson Scholar Program is for high schoolers - 9th through 12th graders - who wish to "own" their education. It is an alternative seminar class, and scholars are expected to attend. Scholars will spend this class time working through the portfolio, including doing research, optional workshops to help scholars with specific topics, asking for and getting feedback for their projects, giving their assessments, and getting one-on-one guidance from mentors. As such, scholars who apply should be motivated and mature enough to manage themselves.

Expectations

In the process of completing their portfolio, a scholar will have several assignments developed to help them learn valuable skills that will help them through high school, college, and life. Scholars are expected to research their way through a bullet-point list, then present what they learned in one of three ways. They may teach a small, five-person group of scholars and mentors over the course of 45 to 60 minutes; write an in-class, timed essay using their notes; or have a personal interview with a JSP mentor, in which they answer questions and show that they are learning. In addition, scholars write a capstone semester paper, which they present orally during the spring semester, and give an oral test to fulfill the requirements for Paradigm High School.

Getting Into the Program

The application process to JSP is simple. After scheduling a time with Mrs. Mauer, scholars will meet with her in an interview. The interview isn’t meant to keep people out; instead, it’s designed to help the mentor get to know the applicant, as well as help the future scholar discover for themselves if they are ready for JSP. 

Conclusion

The Jefferson Scholar Program is a tool for scholars who feel they are ready for more to move more quickly and deepen their educations. The world is changing - it’s not about what information you have, as most everyone has access to the internet, it’s about what you do with that information. The scholars that learn the indispensable skills of information parsing and presentation will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Now interviewing for Fall Semester 2019.

FAQ

Why do you call them "scholars" and "mentors"?

Paradigm High School’s vision of learning includes helping scholars become responsible for their own education, and the Jefferson Scholar Program aims to bolster that concept. At Paradigm, students are called scholars, indicating that they are seekers of knowledge instead of simply receivers. Similarly, teachers are called mentors, in that they are learning with the scholars, and guide them along a path of learning instead of beckoning from the end.

What credits are earned in the JSP?

Paradigm High School combines several credits into one class, called Seminar. This class follows a scholar throughout their high school career, fulfilling different high school credits in different grades. 

  • 9th: Language Arts and Geography

  • 10th and 11th: Language Arts and World Civilizations

  • 12th, fall semester: Government and U.S. History

  • 12th, spring semester: Leadership and U.S. History

Are there tests?

Instead of traditional tests in which the scholar answers questions posed by the mentor, the Jefferson Scholar Program generally uses assessments, in which the scholar presents the information they’ve gathered to the mentor in varying ways. The exception to this is for the Language Arts and Government credits, which do use the traditional format to expose the scholar to the test-taking techniques they will use in most colleges and universities.

There are three types of assessments that a scholar can choose between to demonstrate their learning in Geography, World Civilizations, U.S. History, and the topics of their choice:

  • A lesson presentation - teaching a small group of scholars and mentors what they learned for 45 to 60 minutes

  • A timed written essay about what they learned, using notes

  • A personal interview with a mentor - akin to an oral exam, where scholars present information and answer the mentor’s questions

Can I join the JSP if I'm not enrolled at Paradigm High School?

You have to enroll at Paradigm, but you can just take the single seminar class for JSP. Thus, this option is open to those attending Paradigm full-time and homeschooled students who are willing to attend at least one class. Unfortunately, as you cannot be enrolled in two different high schools at the same time, the JSP is currently closed to students going to a different high school full-time.

How do you get into the JSP?

Those wishing to participate in the Jefferson Scholar Program must schedule an interview with Mrs. Mauer (lmauer@paradigmhigh.org). The interview isn’t meant to keep scholars out, it’s meant to help them recognize if they are ready for the class. The Jefferson Scholar Program is a higher way of thinking, and the interview will help prove that the scholar is responsible.

Please bring the following to the interview:

  1. A mentor recommendation (unless a scholar did not attend Paradigm last school year)

  2. A parent recommendation letter for their scholar

  3. A project, or evidence of a project, they are proud of and willing to discuss

What do scholars choose when they can study whatever they want?

Scholars are encouraged to complete their credit coursework within the first half of the semester. During the second half, they are then given the freedom to study and present on any topic they choose. In the past, there have been a wide variety of topics chosen by scholars:

  • Philosophers

  • Shorthand

  • Weapons from a certain war

  • Studying and practicing music

  • Composers and musical eras

  • Psychology

  • Body language

Topics are approved by a mentor before they are delved into, and may be expanded or narrowed during the approval process to ensure adequate material to study.

What sort of "scholar skills" are developed?

  • In-depth research

  • Taking notes

  • Note organization

  • Speaking skills

  • Presentation

  • Essay writing

  • Deadline adherence

  • Using information

  • Memorization

Are scholars completely on their own during class?

No, mentors are there to help their scholars every step of the way. They are available for questions about the topic, presenting, writing, or anything else a scholar might need additional guidance for.

In addition, various workshops taught by mentors will be available to attend, if a scholar so chooses.

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What are the expectations of a scholar in the JSP?

As students of Paradigm High School, scholars participating in the Jefferson Scholar Program will need to comply with Paradigm’s dress code each day. They are expected to respect the rules of basic etiquette as well. The academic expectations are as follows:

  • Scholars are expected to study 6-10 hours a week for this class. 4 of those hours are in-class study time.

  • Scholars will be required to complete the Portfolio Guide, a booklet that contains instructions for all the information they will learn throughout the year, or a sort of manual for the class.

    • The “Portfolio” is a collection of information compiled by the scholars that includes research, notes, annotated articles, their assessment, and sources.

  • Scholars must memorize various lists each year.

    • 9th grade: Utah counties and locations, states and capitals review, continents and oceans

    • 10th and 11th grade: several poems, MLA format, preamble to the Constitution

    • 12th grade, fall semester: the Amendments to the Constitution, each of the Articles in the Constitution (not verbatim)

    • 12th grade, spring semester: U.S. presidents and their years of service

  • Scholars will read several school-required books over the course of the class, including:

    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

    • The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour

    • The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

    • Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu

    • I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

    • Common Sense by Thomas Paine

    • Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau