Small Size = JGHS Student Success!
At first glance, the structure of The Jones-Gordon High School (JGHS) may seem… unusual. That’s because it is! The most obvious difference is Jones-Gordon’s size: Arizona public high schools’ average enrollment is 532 students—many topping out at a couple thousand—while The Jones-Gordon School enrolls just 60 students in our high school each year. With such a drastic difference in population size when compared to other schools in the state, the question is raised: “Why would anyone choose a high school with 60 students?”
In response to this question, here are 4 reasons JGHS students thrive:
1. Personalized Education, Individual Attention: In a sea of hundreds, sometimes thousands of students, it can be easy to get lost amongst the crowd of other learners. At The Jones-Gordon School, the opposite is true: It is very difficult, if not impossible for a JGHS student to slip between the cracks. JGHS students simply aren’t able to lose their academic footing with such close attention given to all 60 students. With luxuries such as small class sizes (no more than 15 and some as small as 4), personalized advisory periods, rapid e-mail response times, and a family-like campus community, support is never out of arm’s reach. Often, a teacher will be the first to reach out if they notice something worth exploring, like an opportunity for improvement or even a noticeable mood change. Our students also benefit from specialized small-group FLEX periods, taught by our highly qualified team of teachers, that offer targeted coaching during the school day to address students’ individual needs. From boosting executive functioning skills to completing academic reading, writing, or math interventions, to developing mindfulness techniques, FLEX is one way Jones-Gordon is able to help secondary students overcome their difficulties while always cultivating their strengths. Our teaching team excels at identifying and understanding those strengths, as well as the needs and challenges of each student. By developing a deeper understanding of not just their academic skills but also their values and personalities, over time, Jones-Gordon teachers are able to catapult their students to future success. The beauty of the structure of JGHS is that it allows for authentic, relationship-based learning environments that give diverse learners the opportunity to grow and thrive in ways that work for them.
2. Authentic, Strengths-Based College Preparation: Make no mistake—unlike many specialized programs that support students who learn differently, The Jones-Gordon School maintains rigorous, college-preparatory academic standards. But rather than “throwing them to the wolves” to fend for themselves, we teach our students how to meet those high expectations. Walk through JGHS halls, and you’ll see all kinds of learning experiences. In the English classroom, students read Camus aloud and lead Socratic seminars that delve into philosophical questions about the nature of existence. Next door, in math, you’ll find students modeling algebraic functions based on data collected from one of the school dogs’ heart rates. Across the hall, science students keep their own college-level lab journals and learn molecular biology through inquiry and research on the question: “How does cancer spread?” You might have to dodge a robot or two, racing down the hallway as students cheer and reprogram. Or maybe you’ll stop by the Sustainability class’s solar panel display to charge your cell phone. But at JGHS, our students are not beholden to their interests or competitive abilities. All kinds of learners, regardless of their strengths and challenges, are accepted and encouraged equally to explore our world of educational opportunities and discover what “sticks.” Students at Jones-Gordon design their own future. Whether they pursue an AP Capstone diploma, complete interest-based Honors Projects, participate in dual enrollment, gain pre-graduate CTE experience, or all of the above, JGHS empowers its diverse learners to reach their full potential. One of our favorite school mottos is: “You can do hard things!”
3. Community Engagement & Leadership Opportunities. Students at The Jones-Gordon School are committed to leading meaningful lives outside of the classroom as well. In a community as small as ours, each individual matters. It is this feeling of impact and responsibility that leads our students to engage in community service that means something to them. As a 1st-12th grade school, many high schoolers gravitate towards mentorship of the younger children on campus, playing with them, tutoring them, reading them stories, joining them on field trips, and even sharing their own journeys with the message that “Everything is going to be okay.” Having a smaller student body also means having a less competitive atmosphere where students can actively participate in the things they’re interested in and develop their skills without being shut out before they can even try. Students are encouraged to join our athletic teams, not only to develop their skills but their sportsmanship as well. If sports just aren’t their thing, they can try out a club (or start one of their own), like Robotics or Future Business Leaders of America, in a small, intimate environment where they are welcomed but never pressured. We also like to go places! And having a small, family-like community to travel with takes the fear and anxiety out of cross-country or international travel and helps our students develop confidence and common sense before they’re off to college.
4. Culture of Kindness: Last, but most importantly, The Jones-Gordon School prides itself on what we refer to as a “Culture of Kindness.” In the JGS high school, each teacher knows every student, every student knows every teacher, and every student knows each other. Beyond that, everyone is treated equitably. There is no bullying, condescending, or rude behavior (directed towards others or towards oneself) on this campus, not because of draconian punishments or threats of expulsion, but because ours is a culture where kindness is genuinely valued above all else. This is a core belief system that has permeated the hallways and classrooms of The Jones-Gordon School since its inception, and it flourishes organically within and across all three divisions: Lower, Middle, and High. Our goal is to ensure that each student leaves us as a likable, employable, and inspiring individual with a kind heart and a growth mindset who uses their personal strengths to spread the values they’ve cultivated at Jones-Gordon wherever they go. And they do tend to go far!
Overall, the gift of a small school like Jones-Gordon is that students can have all the positive experiences of a larger school but within a community that empowers them to become the most authentic, best version of themselves that they can be.