Above & Beyond
Horizons at Warner prides itself in offering exceptional curriculum both in and out of the classroom. The curriculum is designed is to promote success for all students and provide students with an opportunity for voice and choice in their learning. As such, we have developed multiple programs that specifically target the needs of individual classrooms or grade levels, such as our Transition Team that targets 7th and 8th grade students transitioning to high school, our 9th grade TAIT workforce preparation course specifically designed for program graduates, and our Critical Friends Mentoring Program that pairs local mentors with graduates from Horizons at Warner.
It is important for Horizons at Warner meet the needs of the demographic we serve. We seek to be innovative in the areas of attendance, family engagement, communication, establishing partnerships, and providing resources to our families. As a result, new additions have been made to our program. These have made a positive impact on our students and families. Examples of this are our Mystery Monday initiative and Horizons at Warner BFF literacy program.
The Transition Team curriculum targets our 7th and 8th grade students. These students have been with the program for 8-9 years. As they are finishing middle school and transitioning to high school, they need to be engaged in a more individualized curriculum. Led by two full-time NYS certified teachers with 10+ years of experience and a cadre of part-time experts, Transition Team members are supported in building strong identities, mastering academic skills, managing stress, and regulating emotions, all of which are essential for their successful transition into the next stage of their lives.
Transition Team is exposed to a number of other tools that will help them succeed after graduating from Horizons. These include a specialized session with a highly accomplished math teacher to develop T-180 competency through a variety of games and authentic calculator experiences. The calculator skills learned from this instruction that takes place for one hour each week are fundamental to success in the various Math Regents and courses our students will take during the school year.
Each Friday, while the core program embarks on a theme-relevant field experience, the Transition Team takes an age-appropriate trip, i.e., college tour and informational sessions, job sites, museums, performances, etc. To honor their accomplishments and commitment to Horizons at Warner, our eighth-grade students venture on a special trip, traditionally in the form of an out-of-town overnight or banquet celebration complete with day trips to exciting and educational locations.
In 2017, we expanded our programming to include our ninth-grade graduates by offering a workforce preparation curriculum referred to as the Teacher Assistants in Training (TAIT) program. Members of the TAIT program are present across the six weeks of Horizons at Warner, observing and assisting in assigned classrooms each morning as part of the teacher team, receiving pertinent life skills training from their co-directors each afternoon, and directing activity during Healthy Hero time at the end of each day. Curriculum for the TAIT program includes one-hour presentations twice a week from members of the community on a variety of subjects relevant to aiding our students to future academic, career, and life success. In addition, each student completes a binder by the end of the program, working on and keeping an accurate account of their resume, letters of recommendation, journal entries, working papers, and more.
Further demonstrating the commitment we have to continued student success is our Critical Friends mentoring program, which focuses on empowering members of our TAIT program to successfully transition to high school, graduate from high school, and attain admission into either college or a skilled training program. Each Horizons at Warner graduate is matched with an adult mentor from the community that can provide meaningful encouragement, support, and guidance throughout high school, which carves them a path to graduating on time and developing future goals. Mentors and mentees are in contact via text, email or phone at least once a week and as a program, we host three Critical Friends mentoring events three times a year.
Daily attendance is a critical component to the success of the students in the Horizons at Warner program. In 2016, while analyzing daily program attendance, it was recognized that Monday had the lowest attendance of each week due to situations unique to our student and family demographic. To counteract this deficit and bring excitement to each new week of the program, we implemented Mystery Monday, which involves treating the students to an after-lunch snack which is donated each week. Not only do the students love the opportunity to enjoy a snack they may not have tried before, but they love solving the mystery of what the snack will be each week. The results have proven effective, with Monday attendance leveling off to equate to all other weekday averages.
In order to connect our students with role-model adults and emphasis their literary growth, we have started the Horizons at Warner BFF (Books for Friends) program in which our second grade students draw a picture for a pen-pal who then chooses a book connecting to the picture to send back, about which the student responds with a letter to the pen-pal. In the end, our students gain powerful connections with successful adults that they can look up to, free books, and literacy skills through writing these letters.