In my many interactions with parents, teachers and providers of all types, I am often asked, “How did your school come to be called Humanex?” The short answer to this question is that our name finds its origin in the importance of recognizing the Human Experience in education, thus Humanex, but let me elaborate on the concept and philosophy of Humanex further.
The Human Experience, and the foundation of our program, begins with the recognition that a student cannot discover who they are and what they can do in the world, if every challenge faced, is approached from a defensive position. One primarily focused on the prevention of “doing things wrong” rather than a focus on personal growth and the challenge of learning. Unfortunately, after years of feeling different, of being teased, and of continuously being corrected and or coached on how to do things better, many students have taken on this defensive approach to the world. And, while this approach may feel immediately satisfying as a means to avoid additional rejection, it does not foster experimentation, exploration, trial, and error, which are all necessary if growth and development are to occur.
For this reason, we believe that our job as teachers and professionals, is to recognize, celebrate, and understand the individual and their uniqueness. For it is the recognition of this Human Experience, that is key to our stepping away from an approach solely focused on deficit remediation. The Human Experience is that element that makes us all special, and in the case of a population identified by many labels, transforms a diagnosis based in a classification system of presenting characteristics, back into an individual in need of support, with unique dreams, desires, and experiences.
At Humanex, students receive individualized instruction designed to engage each student’s strengths in every class. Our staff is highly trained in diverse teaching methods. For example, great attention is paid to whether a student is strongest in kinesthetic, visual or auditory learning and instruction, and assessments are offered that fit their learning style. The instructional approach implemented by teachers is multi-faceted and utilizes a combination of instructional delivery and assessment models to ensure students master the skills and content being taught.
Humanex is then about understanding difference and avoiding the trap of using others’ performance as benchmarks for success. It challenges us all to widen our focus beyond a linear understanding of causation, to one that takes in the whole picture. From here it is possible to engage these developing adolescents in ways that facilitate growth, while also being relevant in their lives. This begins with learning how to ask those questions that result in an accurate identification of additional elements contributing to the unique challenges faced by the family and the developing adolescent. Humanex is about recognizing that effective teacher, coaching, and most essentially learning.
At Humanex Academy, this learning begins with our relational/interpersonal approach, where rapport development is key. Our staff strives to create an environment that is genuine, empathic, friendly, and fun. Once trust and rapport have been established, strategies to increase academic engagement, anxiety management, and a sense of importance for Preparation, Accountability, Communication, Effort, and Respect (PACER) may then be implemented and individualized for each student at a pace and level that fits their needs – not those of a broader agenda or bureaucratic structure.
In fact, our inspiration for Humanex was developed out of the frustration of watching educators, parents and specialist, struggle to apply poorly timed and ill-conceived strategies with great conviction – strategies that were quite often logical and empirical in nature, but also too narrow in their understanding for the individual. Approaches that forgot the Human Experience in their efforts to find the single, most effective approach, or that single deficit, at the center of all problems; from our perspective this seemed wrong, too oversimplified, contrived, and often counterproductive.
At Humanex Academy the Human Experience is about creating a safe, supportive, but “real world” environment, where the development of skills take on a relevance and importance that is hard to duplicate in a larger school, in a single supportive classroom, at home, or structured social skill group setting. Within this Humanex environment, students feel safe to practice new skills, to make mistakes, and to learn from both. This environment also enables our staff to utilize those critical in-the-moments interactions to coach and provide support as students learn to better regulate emotions, to face anxiety, to develop the skills of learning, to make friends, and to generally get along with others.
Ultimately, Humanex is about providing the framework necessary for this growth and development to occur, so that our students might be inspired to become who they are meant to be, and to find their place in the world.
Our working philosophy:
- Teaching and supporting adolescents requires a thoughtful approach – one based on their specific needs, strengths, readiness, and dreams.
- Academically engaging students in a manner that utilizes their strengths, learning style, and the efficiency with which they process information. An approach based exclusively on fixing or remediating deficits often ignores the needs of the individual.
- Thoughtfully developing academic and post-graduation plans based in an understanding for individual readiness, capabilities, and interests. Effective planning cannot occur from a position of crisis or from a narrow perspective based solely on a broad diagnostic category.
- Continually engaging in the process of evaluating progress by asking the questions needed to gain a greater understanding for the Human Experience. Basing next steps on this understanding.
- Creating individualized academic plans to guide students towards middle and high school diplomas.