FAQ

  • What is the Intellectual Virtues Academy? +

    IVA is a charter middle school, 6th to 8th grades, launched in September 2013. IVA's focus and mission is to foster intellectual virtues, or what some education theorists call “habits of mind,” “thinking dispositions,” or “non-cognitive skills.” IVA received substantial benefits and funding from a $1 million grant project housed at Loyola Marymount University and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation.

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  • What are “intellectual virtues”? +

    Intellectual virtues are the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner – traits like curiosity, wonder, open-mindedness, and intellectual perseverance or grit. Intellectual virtues involve the best practices of human thinking, whether the area of study is math, history, or any other subject. The focus is on developing a student’s mind to be a lifelong learner.

    Read more about IVA's 9 master virtues.

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  • What is a charter school? +

    Charter schools are tuition-free, independently operated, non-sectarian, non-profit, open enrollment schools. IVA operates as a charter school under the authorization of the Long Beach Unified School District and the State of California Department of Education.

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  • Who is involved? +

    IVA is a grassroots project developed by parents, educators, and community leaders who are passionate about Long Beach students flourishing. The vision was spear-headed by Dr. Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University philosopher, and Dr. Steve Porter, Biola University professor. IVA is one piece of a major grant project sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and housed at LMU. A 12-member board of directors governs the school and oversees the school staff. These directors bring a wide range of expertise to the school through their backgrounds in marketing, commercial real-estate, business management, educational theory, school administration, human resources, university administration, and social services

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  • Where is IVA located? +

    Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach is located at 3601 Linden Ave., Long Beach, CA 90807.

    The location provides spacious classrooms, a large blacktop with basketball hoops for outdoor play, a fully functioning kitchen, lunch tables, a large multi-purpose room, and additional rooms for activities and assemblies. We have renovated the classrooms and office spaces to reflect a thinking and learning culture that invites discussion, interaction, and partnership. The facility is just off the 405 freeway and Atlantic Avenue, offering easy access to the school.

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  • How many students do you have? +

    In our first year, we launched with two classes of 28 6th graders -- a total of 56 students. We will add the 7th and 8th grades in the next two years with around 50 students per grade. Our mission is to create a small, intimate, caring, and thoughtful educational community where students are equipped to learn and live well.

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  • How does an intellectual virtues-based education model differ from other models? +

    The intellectual virtues approach is deeply personal in the sense that it is about nurturing qualities like curiosity, wonder, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage, and open-mindedness. The ultimate goal of an intellectual virtues education is much richer and more meaningful than, say, the achievement of high scores on standardized tests. In addition, an intellectual virtues approach is academically rigorous. This is because intellectual virtues aim at a deep understanding and wise application of important knowledge. They demand much more than short-term memorization of isolated facts.

    The model also provides a way of adding “flesh” to certain familiar, but vague, education ideals such as a love of learning. We believe that to have a genuine love of learning -- or to be a life-long learner -- is to possess a range of these intellectual virtues and others, like reflectiveness, a love of knowledge, intellectual determination, fair-mindedness, creativity, imagination, intellectual honesty, and integrity. What makes this model unique is that it involves exploring these concepts in detail, and making them an explicit and central part of what goes on everyday in the classroom.

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  • What are you actually teaching? +

    Fostering intellectual virtues is not an alternative to a rigorous, standards-based curriculum. On the contrary, it is through active and reflective engagement of core academic knowledge and skills that students learn to practice the intellectual virtues. In selecting IVA's curriculum, the school's founders and teachers searched for existing published curricula in core areas that (1) aligned with the Common Core State Standards, (2) aimed at deep understanding, and (3) provided opportunities for the practice of intellectual virtues.

    Core Curriculum:

    • English
      • Novel-based readings with non-fiction supplements. Novels include:
        • The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein,
        • Manic Magee by Jerry Spinelli, 
        • View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg, 
        • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes. 
      • Grammar text: Sentence Composing for Middle School by Don Killgallon
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  • Who are your teachers? +

    IVA's amazing founding teachers have brought flexibility, love of learning, and desire for personalization to our campus. Mr. Ian McCurry is our English/social studies teacher, Ms. Cari Noble is our math/science teacher, Mr. Michael Johnson is our PE teacher, Ms. Cindy Luu is our music teacher, Mr. Ryan Callis is our art teacher, and Anne Kiner is our world language teacher for the third trimester elective. Open and upcoming positions are posted on EdJoin.org. Dr. Jason Baehr, founder and board member, continues to develop a pool of qualified and interested teachers via seminars made possible though the John Templeton grant.

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  • What does a typical day look like? +

    Students take one double-period of language arts and social studies and one double-period of math and science each day of the week. Our double-periods are taught by one multi-subject credentialed teacher. Each of our core teachers also hold a single-subject credential. Four days a week, students will take PE and an elective. Intervention takes place during the school day through pull-out sessions during PE or the elective, and takes an adjustable combination of English Language Development, literacy intervention, and math intervention. Intervention courses supplement, rather than substitute, for high quality, differentiated instruction within core courses. On The core academic block is followed by advisory on Thursdays, when dismissal is at 12:25 p.m. for teacher planning and professional development.

    IVA's Bell Schedule

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  • What does the school calendar like? +

    The Academy’s school day is 8:30 a.m. to 2:55 p.m., except on Thursdays, our minimum days, when dismissal is 12:25 p.m. The yearly calendar and holidays are aligned to Long Beach Unified School District's calendar, with the exception of five faculty-only days.

    IVA's Academic Calendar

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  • What electives do you offer? +

    We are committed to offering creative and formative elective courses. The current schedule allows for one elective period four days a week. For 6th grade, we offer an elective wheel with a rotating trimester elective of music, art, and foreign language. Over the year, students gain significant exposure in each area. In 7th and 8th grades, students focus on a particular elective for the entire year.

    Research shows that the use of both visual and performing arts in classroom teaching is an effective way of helping students engage new material and process it at a deeper level. Teachers at IVA have the autonomy to incorporate art into classrooms and lessons wherever they see fit, so that they may deepen their students’ understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.

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  • What are Advisories? +

    Central to IVA’s educational mission and vision is a one-hour Advisory period, during which students explore their growth in intellectual virtues under the guidance of an Advisor.

    In many schools, advisory time is for finishing homework and chatting about personal interests unrelated to thinking or learning. At IVA, the goal of the advisory program is to help students grow as thinkers — to help students grow in our nine master virtues. Students are given weekly opportunities to practice thinking about things they are naturally curious about — things they’d like to learn and talk about.

    There are no grades, no tests, no real homework in Advisory. Rather, students get to decide the sorts of things they will get to talk about. It’s a time for intellectual exploration and adventure, led by advisors who undergo an application and training process and are selected by the principal.

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  • What about extracurricular activities? +

    We learn about ourselves through sports, music, art, drama, and related extracurricular programs, and we believe such activities are extremely worthwhile pursuits. As a charter school, we have resources in the form of grants, volunteers, and creative fundraising to help develop unique extracurricular activities. Plus, with so many fewer students than area middle schools, your child will have much greater access to these programs. We have competent instructors who offer instruction in painting, creative writing, journalism, web design, music, dance, drama, soccer, and basketball.

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  • Is there after-school care? +

    IVA's extracurricular programs are offered as affordable, fee-based, after-school programs to provide your child structured activities and supervision.

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  • Will my child really fit in at this school? +

    Every student is in a different place when it comes to the possession of intellectual virtues. While student might be very patient when solving a difficult math problem, another might get frustrated quickly but have a greater ability to locate the precise nature of the problem. Wherever your child is on the continuum of intellectual virtues, there is always room to grow. Possessing all of the virtues is certainly not a prerequisite for this school. Rather, the goal is for honest self-awareness and the desire to make progress in forming and growing these virtues. Intellectual virtues can be taught to all students, despite various learning styles, cognitive abilities, and personality characteristics.

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  • Can my student transfer to the Academy from any LBUSD school and back again? +

    Yes, the Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach is a school of choice with the authorization of the Long Beach Unified School District. Similar to other middle schools, there are enrollment limitations at IVA. In our first year, we had an enrollment of only 56 6th-grade students. Over the next two years, as the year's 6th-graders promote, we will add an additional 6th-grade class. Eventual enrollment is expected to be 50 students per grade.

    IVA’s registration process is independent of LBUSD’s process. Due to limited space, we encourage you to also apply at your neighborhood middle school.

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  • Where can I learn more about the intellectual virtues? +

    An overwhelming amount of recent research in education, economics, neuroscience, and other fields underscores that success in life and school does not come from intelligence alone. Rather, success also comes from non-cognitive skills like curiosity, attentiveness, and open-mindedness – the intellectual virtues. Books on the subject include Paul Tough’s recent bestseller How Children Succeed : Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character and Scott Seider’s Character Compass. You are also encouraged to visit intellectualvirtues.org.

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  • What will the transition be like from IVA to a high school? +

    IVA’s curriculum is rigorous. The culture of thinking, combined with the language of intellectual virtues, encourages our students to define themselves by their ability to grow and learn. Our students will know themselves as learners. IVA 8th graders will transition to the larger learning environment of high school with a metacognitive awareness of their learning strengths and areas of growth. Our goal is for students to view themselves as consistently growing in character. That growth mindset will encourage students to be more comfortable with transitions.

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