Finn Academy is a tuition-free public charter school.
At Finn Academy, a K through 6 charter school, we promote an inclusive, rigorous and nurturing environment to best prepare our children for their future and to cultivate a community of scholars, leaders and friends.
In the 2023-2024 academic year, we will serve scholars in grades Kindergarten – 6th grade.
To create an inclusive, rigorous, and nurturing environment that will prepare our children for their future, Finn Academy implements an instructional model that prioritizes experiential learning. Experiential learning engages scholars in hands-on activities so that they can connect what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations. We have carefully selected and crafted experiences that challenge our scholars through research, exploration, and discovery; and we further engage scholars in the content through learning opportunities with local experts, community organizations, and projects. Specifically, experiential learning at Finn Academy includes the following features:
- Inquiry-based curricular programs in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies
- Purposeful hands-on learning experiences in real-world settings, such as our Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Lab, indoor and outdoor gardens, and community sites
- Real-world applications and expeditions through which scholars can demonstrate their learning
To support the development of our students as scholars, leaders, and friends, Finn Academy forges meaningful opportunities for scholars through the establishment of community connections. We have established the following robust partnerships to help scholars develop awareness of and provide services to their community:
- Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends): The school has established a formal partnership with River Friends that provides Finn Academy scholars across all grade levels with authentic learning opportunities to explore concepts they have been studying in the classroom. Representatives from River Friends meet with Finn Academy instructional staff at the start of each school year to plan purposeful connections between grade-level standards and learning experiences along the riverbank. The result of this planning may include classroom visits by River Friends’ volunteers, classroom expeditions to the river, and special projects that integrate Next Generation Science Standards, National Geography Standards, and New York State Common Core Learning Standards.
- Elmira College: Finn Academy has worked closely with Elmira College to benefit students at both schools. Specifically, Finn Academy offers an after school small group tutoring program staffed by Elmira College students. Additionally, Finn Academy hosts and mentors student teachers from Elmira College each year.
- Additional Community Connections: Finn Academy works with a wide range of community partners to support student learning, teacher development, social-emotional and physical wellness as well as other initiatives. These partners have included the Bee Girl Organization, Chemung County History Museum, Elmira YMCA, Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes, Ithaca Children’s Garden, Ithaca Science Center, Museum of the Earth, Steele Memorial Library, Tanglewood Nature Center, Upstate Hydroponics, and Wisner Market.
College and Career Readiness
As part of our rigorous environment and efforts to best prepare scholars for their future, Finn Academy emphasizes the importance of all of our scholars being college and career ready. First and foremost, we provide a challenging academic program that helps scholars develop the skills they will need to meet collegiate and career expectations. Additionally, we offer a wide range of programming to ensure scholars are exposed to the opportunities they may pursue in college and beyond. Starting in kindergarten, we help scholars learn about college through experiences on actual college campuses including SUNY Binghamton, Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Elmira College. Our ongoing work with Elmira College also provides additional opportunities for scholars to interact with college students on a regular basis. We make a concerted effort to expose scholars to a variety of careers by having guest speakers and experts engage with scholars during visits to the school. Scholars’ projects and expeditions also often give them the opportunity to learn about careers they had previously not been aware of as they engage in work in the larger community. We also ensure our scholars are developing the social-emotional skills that will prepare them for career expectations. For example, by integrating our core values (leadership, perseverance, aspiration, scholarship, kindness, and reflection) into daily school life, we set expectations for social norms and develop other “soft skills” that research demonstrates are critical to workplace success.
Social-Emotional and Physical Wellness
To create an inclusive and nurturing environment, Finn Academy promotes the social-emotional and physical well-being of all of our scholars. Research indicates that social-emotional learning has a positive impact on scholars’ academic outcomes. Every child at Finn Academy is part of a tight-knit Crew, where they are known by their teachers and peers, and there is time set aside at the beginning and end of each day for morning and closing Crew time, during which scholars set intentions and goals for the day, share compliments or apologies with peers, and reflect on learning. In addition to twice-daily Crew times, Finn Academy has a dedicated social-emotional learning (SEL) block, during which teachers use the Second Step curriculum and supplemental resources to help scholars develop social-emotional competence and skills. Our staffing model also reflects our emphasis on social-emotional wellness: Finn Academy is adding a director of school culture, and we currently have a school counselor and behavioral support specialist who can ensure scholars receive the social-emotional supports they need. To promote scholars’ physical well-being, Finn Academy provides fitness and dance instruction to every scholar, scholars have daily recess with trained staff who engage scholars in play that is aligned to the school’s norms and core values. The school also participates in the Edible Schoolyard program, through which scholars have the opportunity to plan for, cultivate, harvest, and eat fresh vegetables from the school garden as they learn important concepts about nutrition.
Professional Development and Teacher Support
In order to ensure teachers are prepared to provide an inclusive, rigorous, and nurturing environment for our scholars, Finn Academy plans systematic professional development and support for teachers. We ensure this professional development and support are strategically aligned to school-wide goals, teacher needs, and student data. Prior to the start of the year, all staff participate in several days of professional learning aligned to identified school priority areas. Throughout the school year, weekly professional development sessions extend teacher learning in these priority areas. Teachers also have the opportunity to receive support embedded in their daily work. For example, teachers receive targeted coaching from instructional leaders based on specific areas of need. Furthermore, all teachers engage in regular team meetings to analyze data, plan collaboratively with colleagues, and share best practices. Teachers are also encouraged to engage in external professional learning opportunities based on their individual teacher goals and needs.