School Spotlight: Beacon Academy
Beacon Academy is a K-8 Minnesota charter school. The school began in 2003 and established a permanent home in Crystal in 2017. The school offers everyday Spanish and character education. Every month there are new character education themes.
Teaching Character Education
School social worker Julie Markwardt designed the Character Education Program.
“Beacon Academy uses developmental assets in the morning meeting program and throughout the day,” says Markwardt. “Every student at Beacon Academy has a twenty minute period when they have their social emotional lessons.”
Every month there are new character education themes. This month’s theme is safety.
“So we talked a little bit about “seguridad,” or safety yesterday,” said Joanna Pederson, a second grade teacher.
Those themes are artfully integrated into classroom curriculum, they’re talked about in monthly assemblies, and they decorate the hallways.
“I try to pick things to learn that can be kind of teachable, especially at this age,” said Pederson. “There’s no reason not to do Spanish that’s also teaching them something about building character, being a better human, or how do you get to be a successful person.”
Beacon Academy is growing
Since Beacon Academy is a charter school, they essentially operate as their own school district. This gives the school the ability to incorporate concepts like the character education program into everyday school life.
“We’ve had families be with us for a few years then leave. But they come back to Beacon,” said Markwardt. “They miss the stuff that we do at Beacon. The sense of community that we create and that’s a big part of the Character Education Program.”
There are roughly 600 students enrolled at Beacon Academy. Staff members say the new space allows them room for a hundred more students.