Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning students lead their learning |

Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning students lead their learning

Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning (SAEL) students present on their learning goals, progress, and evidence of mastery in their subjects every semester. In the beginning of November, all students at Sierra Academy were presenting on their progress and they will do so again in March. This means instead of parents and teachers meeting to discuss the student, students are the ones speaking and leading the meeting. Sierra Academy students are showing school work in their e-portfolios and explaining their goals moving forward in Student Led Conferences or SLCs. Crew Advisors, who work with students in small groups for four years, and parents / guardians listen, ask questions, and figure out how best to support the student moving forward. Panelists from the community also join in on Student Led Conferences to help students practice public speaking and presentation skills with an outside audience.

Ninth grader Dica E, engaging in her first SLC, recognized the value of this shift in practice right away. “We get a chance to explain what we are doing…We get to explain to our parents rather than them just getting the teacher perspective. I can show how I am willing to make changes.”

about Student Led Conferences

Sierra Academy is a part of the nationally recognized EL Education network where all students engage in Student Led Conferences at the 165 EL schools across the country. This allows students to become more active leaders of their own learning where they are setting the goals, monitoring their own progress, and publicly defending their choices. Practicing reflection and improvement with a focus on academic and character growth and success over time makes SAEL students prepared for the demands of college and career. With growth mindset at the core of the school, the Student Led Conferences are a chance for students to own their growth and talk openly and honestly about where they need to improve next. Guidance Counselor Kristina McLean explains how “Student Led Conferences give students the experience of public speaking, engaging in the process of identifying strengths and areas of need, and then how to advocate to access the help and support needed to be successful.”

about sael

Since Sierra Academy’s launch in 2014, all students have been engaging in Student Led Conferences. SAEL high schoolers learn through project-based, college preparatory academics where students get an individualized approach to becoming college and career ready. Graduating seniors are attending colleges across the country and test scores are above the district average. The school is housed at the NCE building in downtown Nevada City with over 180 students. The deadline to apply for next year’s 9th grade is March 13, 2020, but transfers can be considered as they apply. More information and applications can be found at

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