See what happens when teachers and administrators create small learning communities based on a common vision.  It’s more than new names, structures or programs -
it’s about quality instruction and:

Engaging the entire school community in thinking critically about student achievement.
A consistent focus on common instructional strategies in a student-centered classroom.
A professional development program that models rigorous and relevant instruction.



I served for over 34 years as teacher, K-12 coordinator, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, and consultant.

I'm proud to have been part of the creation of two small learning communities - the Ninth Grade Academy and the Summer Prep School. In each case we first, assembled a team of educators to forge a common vision of teaching and learning. Then schools were organized to accomplish this vision.
~ Peter Pappas

More resources from
Peter Pappas

Contact me for information on bringing my workshop to your school.


Twitter: edteck


Summer Prep School
Pittsford Central Schools
Pittsford NY 14534

From 1998 - 2000 I was the founding director of a program for academically at-risk middle school students.  Summer Prep School was designed to improve academic skills and performance, to engage students in their learning and improve their attitude toward school.  It combined daily instruction in academic skills with weekly outings. Trained high school mentors served as role models and parent's attended evening Parenting Workshops.

I designed the Summer Prep School Website as a valuable tool for building parents, teachers and student peers into an effective team. (archived site)

Summer Prep targeted students exiting 5th – 8th grade who were in need of extra assistance. It was designed to engage students in their learning and foster a positive attitude towards school. Our goal was to improve academic skills, boost student performance and assure success in meeting new Regent’s standards and assessments

Our model built on the active partnership of teachers, parents, high school / college interns and client students. It produced excellent results with nearly one-half of our students improving their grades in three or four of their core courses. 

Here's what one parent observed about the program. "The Summer Prep School was the best thing that could have happened to my daughter this summer. She struggled throughout the school year - and with the frustration of struggling, she lost confidence and enthusiasm for school in general. However, this excellent program spurred in her a renewed interest in learning.

The Summer Prep School continues to serve students exiting grades 1 - 6 at Pittsford Central Schools. Click for information



Copyright © 2001-12, Peter Pappas

All content licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


The Ninth Grade Academy

Recent Ninth Grade Academy presentations:
Contact  me for information on bringing my workshop to your school.

Helena-West Helena SD
Helena AK
Click for blog post

Sheridan High School
Sheridan WY

Kentucky Department of Education
Frankfort KY

Campbell County School District,
Gillette WY

Springville-Griffith Institute HS,
Springville NY

Fay-Penn Economic Development Council
Uniontown, PA

Gaining on the Gap Conference,
DuPage ROE, Chicago IL

Model Schools Conference
Orlando FL

Polk County  Schools
Polk County KY

"Reinventing High School Symposium" Washington DC

Superintendent's Summer Institute
Oregon Department of Education

Portland OR

Ninth Grade Academy - A Small Learning Community that Works 
Sample workshop video in RealPlayer 
Download RealPlayer 

I videotaped interviews with Academy teachers and students to let them share their story in a 10 minute video. Windows Media Player
Low resolution version
10.4MB wmv file
High resolution version
81.8MB wmv file
Videos begin with a black screen.
Be patient and they will load and stream.

Additional details about the program.
Academy PowerPoint 615KB pdf file

Podcast and PowerPoint notes from “Strategies for Student Success” Oregon Summer Institute 2006

Podcast and more from "Reinventing High School Symposium" Washington DC 2005

The Ninth Grade Academy continues to serve students at Eastridge High School. Click for information

More information on my one-day: Ninth Grade Academy Planning Workshop  Learn how to design your own NGA

Ninth Grade Academy
Eastridge High School
East Irondequoit CSD
Rochester NY 14609

In 2003, East Irondequoit opened a new 6-8 middle school and closed a 7-8 junior high that had been located at the high school. The district saw it as a great opportunity to create a Ninth Grade Academy at the high school. The Associate High School Principal was named Ninth Grade Academy Administrator. He recruited a group of teachers and school counselor to serve at the Academy. They worked countless extra hours to develop program and policy. As  Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at East Irondequoit, I had the opportunity to support the team in the development and implementation of this small learning community. I have since retired from the district, but the Academy continues to flourish.

The Ninth Grade Academy philosophy is simple.  "We strive to create a smaller, more personal, learning community that fosters a culture of high academic and social expectations. Ninth grade can be a difficult transition for many students, and the Academy is designed to give students more structure and oversight to assist with the transition to high school."

As one Academy teacher observed, “We shift the responsibility of learning from teacher to student. When a student understands how each step maximizes his or her achievement and or success, they enjoy modeling this type of good academic behavior. Guided and independent practice in critical thinking, vocabulary, summarizing, analyzing...”

Another Academy teacher observed, “We’re no different than most teachers, but because of the support we’re outstanding teachers. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to teach in the Academy for the last two years. I‘m seeing that it can happen. This is the best experience I could have hoped for.”