Chapter One Curriculum
Through a series of exercises and discussions, freshmen begin by taking inventory of their personality traits and identity through the lens of living and learning at Fountain Valley. They discuss their personal strengths, challenges and concerns as they see themselves in Fountain Valley’s unique learning environment.
Growth Mindset and Grit
Next, they work on understanding the importance of developing a growth mindset and grit—how to thrive on challenge and use failure as a springboard for growth. Students explore the concept of neuroplasticity and learn how the brain’s capacity increases through learning. They also discuss self-care and self-advocacy and delve into tactics to manage stress and develop mindfulness in their daily lives. And just as importantly, they discuss where to find help when they need a little extra support.
Living Our Core Values
Once they’ve gained a greater understanding of their sense of self, students then look outward toward developing empathy for others. They choose one of the School’s core values and plan an on-campus service project. For example, the freshmen class chose “compassion” and spent one of their free periods raking leaves to help the maintenance staff.
Reflection and Synthesis
Throughout their Chapter One experience, each freshman builds a website that documents their growth and aids them in answering an essential question of their own design that serves as a guide to self-exploration. For example, “How does creativity and optimism lead to becoming a successful student?” Students post journal entries that are syntheses of knowledge and self-reflection as well as photo galleries, inspiring quotations, and “artifacts” which are a collection of experiences, people and things that have played important roles in their lives thus far. As a culmination to Chapter One, students present their website to groups of peers, faculty and members of the School’s leadership team.