FAQ

  • What is the Intellectual Virtues Academy? +

    IVA is the first charter school of its kind whose innovative educational model is focused on an intellectual virtues philosophy 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 founded the school? +

    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 co-founders Dr. Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University philosopher, and Dr. Steve Porter, Biola University professor. IVA opened with financial support through is one piece of a major grant project sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and housed at LMU.

    A 7- to 12-member non-profit 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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  • What is IVA's relationship with LBUSD? +

    Charter schools in CA are authorized by their local district or county office. IVA is authorized by the Long Beach Unified School District. This means that LBUSD verifies IVA's compliance in financials, credentials, and policies but that IVA is independent from the district. IVA hires their own credentialed teachers and staffs their own Principal and administrators, and office team. One distinction to this independence is for purposes of special education. Based on our Memorandum of Understanding with LBUSD, IVA is a school of the district for purposes of special education. This means IVA pays a percent of all SpEd costs annually based on the number of special education students educated at IVA. 

    IVA is especially grateful for the ongoing review and guidance of James Suarez, LBUSD's Assistant Director of Equity, Access, and College & Career and point of contact for the charter school.

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  • How is IVA funded? +

    As its own LEA or Local Educational Agency, IVA receives funds directly from the state of CA based on student attendance and creates its single-school, single-district budget with those funds that is reviewed by IVA's Board of Directors at regular meetings of the board.
    IVA is not funded or educationally directed by LBUSD though does follow all state requirements for standards and testing and enjoys a strong and positive relationship with the district.

    One distinction in funding for IVA as a charter schools from a district-run school is that charters receive no or significantly less facilities funding - most charter schools pay a significant portion of their operating funding for facilities, something districts almost never do. IVA does not benefit from ballot measures and must raise funds internally to make up for these significant costs. In addition, as a small charter school, IVA's staff wears many hats and lacks extensive central office staff required to tap complex federal funding programs or grants. 

    Support IVA! 
    Support from IVA parents and the wider community is critical to our success and we need our community more than ever so that we can maintain the quality that IVA is known for and maintain a small class size of 26:1. Annually, IVA relies on the communities' generous support to continue funding our unique educational model that focuses on the whole child through virtue-based curriculum with a small class size and raises approximately $250 per student. These funds do not come from individual families alone - we ask families to give at the level they are comfortable with and reach out to our community to fund the school further. IVA's Board of Directors, PTA, and school staff have worked together to create strong fundraising initiatives including the Annual Fund and Fit-A-Thon and have raised close to $60,000 annually to maintain our small class size and personalize program. 

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  • Where is IVA located? +

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

    IVA is located within Grace Church educational building. As a non-profit, free, non-sectarian CA public school we are completely separate from the church but enjoy a positive relationship with our landlord. Charter schools can either take small offerings from the district or find their own facilities and IVA's Founders did an excellent job finding this facility. This space is excellent for a school.

    The location provides a warm & inviting front office & health room, spacious classrooms, a large blacktop with basketball hoops for outdoor play, a lunch table area, a large multi-purpose Rec Center, and additional rooms and spaces for activities and ceremonies. We have renovated the classrooms and office spaces to reflect a thinking and learning culture that invites discussion, interaction, and partnership. In addition, each year our students benefit from the work of a generous PTA who provides improvements to the facility and outdoor space.

    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? +

    IVA launched in 2013 with 2 classes of 6th graders, only 56 students at each grade level. IVA has grown to its full size of 234 students. We have 78 students at each grade level and 26 students in each class. Learn more about our distinctive Advisory program where groups of 10 students meet with one Advisory weekly for an even more personal check in and support. Our mission is to create a small, intimate, caring, and thoughtful educational community where students are equipped to learn and live well.

    As of 2020, IVA has served over 500 Long Beach families and celebrate our Alumni. 

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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 employs 12 teachers who are single subject credentialed in the state of CA. IVA attracts teachers who are flexible, passionate about their subject matter, dedicated to formative development in students, and desire their own continuous growth in intellectual character. We celebrate our amazing founding teachers and team who have brought flexibility, love of learning, and desire for personalization to our campus and maintained a culture of thinking and support for professionalism in each new year.

    In the rare case that we have any open and upcoming positions, they 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? +

    IVA students have 6 classes including LitComp, Social Science, Math, Science, Physical Education and an exploration course. Students see three of their classes four days a week and alternate to experience Advisory and visit 2 classes on Thursdays for our early release day. IVA's block schedule is an extended block schedule, almost 2 hours long! IVA teachers and students love the extended block time to be able to dig deeply into content and questions and experience multiple approaches to the the same content within that time. Students can discuss a big question, read, analyze, write, collaborate, receive feedback, and reflect all within one class. IVA classes thrive in inquiry and discussion-based interactive environments and also rely on regular brain breaks knowing that our middle schoolers cannot sit still for long and that our brains need physical activity. 

    Each IVA course is taught by a single-subject credentialed teacher. IVA also offers intervention during the school day with Office Hours after the first block where students can opt to receive support from their teacher or select an extended break. More than half of IVA students select office hours on a daily basis and this practice of decision-making develops strong relationships with autonomy in learning, trust of teachers, and self-reliance in students. 

    On Thursdays, IVA students begin with an hour of Advisory then see two of their classes. While students are released at 1pm, teachers participate in professional development together from 1:30-3:30pm weekly. 

    IVA's Bell Schedule

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  • What does the school calendar like? +

    IVA's in-person school day is scheduled from 8:20am to 3:20pm, except on Thursdays, our minimum days, when dismissal is at 1:00pm.
    Our yearly academic calendar and holidays are aligned to Long Beach Unified School District's calendar, with the exception of five faculty-only Faculty Academy days.

    IVA's Academic Calendar

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  • What electives do you offer? +

    We are committed to offering creative and formative exploration courses. Students take 6 classes a semester including LitComp, Social Science, Math, Science, Physical Education and an exploration course. As a small school, our schedule allows students to be enrolled in one exploration course. Note: we tend to not call these classes electives because students cannot 'elect' the classes - they are assigned or fit within the students schedules. 

    Each year our exploration courses are a little different based on adjustments in the matrix of classes and the qualifications and passions of our teachers.

    Exploration courses have included:

    • Art - all students receive a semester of Art in both 6th and in 7th grade
    • Creative Writing 
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Photography
    • Games & Logic
    • Intro to Psychology
    • Interpersonal Communications - 8th grade course
    • Social Justice - 8th grade course

    Math Support Courses: Students are identified for math support by their math Test & Quizzes grades and through individual selection determined by parents and teachers. 

    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.

    Learn more about teacher, parent, and student experiences in our What are People Saying About IVA section. 

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  • Can my student transfer to IVA 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. Each year IVA opens enrollment for the following year with applications to be entered into the lottery December through March. Any application received after the deadline places students on the waitlist. Learn more about IVA's Lottery. IVA has a strong waitlist but please don't hesitate to call the school at 562-912-7017 at any time to check on the waiting list or check out our updated list here.

    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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  • What other questions do you have? +

    We welcome your questions!
    Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to connect with 5 of our Office Heroes or call 562-912-7017. 

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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's promoting students 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.

    Anecdotally, our alumni tell us that they can be initially bewildered by the large campus size of some high schools and that they feel equipped to be present in their education in ways that are distinct from their non-IVA peers. Alumni and their high school teachers report that IVA students ask more questions, are not afraid to admit what they do not know, desire the cognitive input of their peers, are comfortable talking with their teachers, and are prepared for the academic challenge of high school. Most IVA students select more rigorous academic programs after middle school and can feel less challenged without them. 

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