PEAKS is an acronym for Personalized Education for the Acquisition of Knowledge and Skills®
Guided self-development is the cornerstone of the department, and its focus lies in helping each student become a reflective, efficient learner and self-advocate from a holistic perspective (mind, brain, wellness, and education) no matter his skill level. In particular, the PEAKS Department is responsible for a progression of courses taken by students each year. The courses are geared to helping students understand the interrelated factors that impact learning and wellness, with a particular focus on applying this information to the discovery of how they learn best. In these unique PEAKS classes, students identify their individual strengths and challenges, and they learn to advocate for themselves.
PEAKS is taken by every student (grades six through nine). Students attend their PEAKS core class four days per week and, with the help of their PEAKS coach, explore ways to employ effective strategies for leading more productive lives—in their academics and beyond. The curriculum focuses on the skills students need in order to be successful at Cardigan, including study skills, technology, and wellness. In addition to teaching classes, PEAKS coaches act as secondary advisors and mentors. Whether it’s working one-on-one on a math problem or providing an opportunity for students to express their feelings, the role of the PEAKS coach outside of the classroom manifests itself in numerous ways. In addition, PEAKS coaches observe their students in other classes and in other areas of school life, and they actively communicate with the other adults on campus regarding students’ accomplishments and concerns. PEAKS coaches also support the Cardigan community in a professional development capacity, and the department serves as a sounding board for ideas.
Watch: Coaches & Students Explain PEAKS
The PEAKS Philosophy
Every student learns differently. As each boy comes to an enhanced understanding of himself and his style of learning, he will be better equipped with more-personalized tools going forward, enabling him to find success as a lifelong learner. The PEAKS Department helps students become aware of how they learn best, and helps to provide students fundamental study, organizational, and technological skills necessary to become academically self-sufficient—in and out of the classroom.
Building close and healthy relationships with each student is the underpinning of the PEAKS coaches’ role. Strong relationships allow the coaches to observe, listen, and ask questions in a way that helps them understand each student’s experience. Coaches use knowledge of students’ strengths and challenges to facilitate the development of personal competencies and to encourage students to use this information toward a commitment to action.
The youngest students require a good bit of “close shepherding” in all areas of Cardigan life. PEAKS coaches actively help these students to better acclimate to boarding school life by teaching emotional intelligence and social skills, in addition to the essential skills in time management, study methods, and organization that all Cardigan students receive. Emphasis is placed on close observation of these boys in order to quickly assist them when challenges arise. A primary goal of sixth grade is the development of study and organizational skills.
The seventh-grade PEAKS curriculum allows for natural maturation and supports students’ adjustment to subject specific classes. The course focuses on self-management, positive peer interactions and collaboration. The acquisition of a sense of personal responsibility and self-identity is a goal for this grade.
Eighth grade boys develop a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world. Cardigan boys assume more responsibility for their academics and their lives. PEAKS helps to cultivate this new self-awareness, while fostering collaboration through peer teaching of skills and appreciation of learning differences. Students are strongly encouraged to develop a habit of self-advocacy with teachers.
The ninth-grade PEAKS class focuses on developing the boys as independent, lifelong learners. Students work to understand how they learn best, based on current neurobiological research, understanding how their brain works and how to apply this in their everyday lives. Additionally, the PEAKS Coach works to prepare students for the transition to the next school following Cardigan.
Because Cardigan recognized the value and innovation in this unique department, the PEAKS® brand was trademarked in 2009.