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Educational Philosophy

Lyons Community School provides a broad, stimulating experience in the liberal arts, preparing students, grades 6 – 12, for college, healthy adulthood, and life-long learning.The logo for Lyons Community School consists of three intersecting curves. Each curve represents one of our core beliefs about a good education:


1. Exposure to new places and ideas

Once each week, students at Lyons leave the building for the afternoon to travel to different parts of our city. This is one way in which we expose our students to new places and ideas. This class, called Field Studies, is fundamental to our school. Students know these trips are not simply field trips. They come equipped with their notebooks, reading books (for reading on the subway), a pen and an open mind. Our students become savvy travelers, not only gaining confidence and ease with our city’s complex transportation systems and layout, but within our various communities and sites with their differing expectations.

The notion of constant exposure to new ideas is fundamental within our school as well. Students are introduced to new authors, art forms and ways of thinking about and seeing the world. We encourage them to take chances in class by asking questions, suggesting their own ideas, and trying something new that might scare them or seem unfamiliar. Intellectual courage is key to developing a strong intellect and it starts with taking chances academically.

Through our partnerships students have opportunities to work with professionals in different fields, providing additional opportunities to explore new ideas and experiences.

2. Knowing students as people

Lyons is a small community with a maximum of 81 students per grade. Our small size allows each student to be known well by teachers, classmates and out-of-the-classroom staff. Each student has an advisor who is the point person for the student at the school. Advisors get to know their advisees by working with them small groups throughout the week and meeting one-on-one in quarterly MAP conferences (“My Action Plan”) to reflect, do long and short term goal setting, and to select courses.

The advisor is also the main contact person for the student’s family. Advisors contact families regularly by phone and email. The advisor also works closely with other teachers to communicate the advisee’s particular needs and strengths.

3. Knowing students as learners
At Lyons, we understand that each learner has particular strengths and needs. We work to get to know each student’s strengths and needs, and then adapt our program to best suit the students in our school.

Over the summer, before the school year starts, we perform a diagnostic assessment of each incoming student. During the 25-minute diagnostic, a school staff member meets with the student one-on-one and sits with the student as she reads, writes and works through some math puzzles. We also interview the student to learn about study habits and previous school experiences. The information gained from this diagnostic is shared with grade level teachers over the summer, and is carefully considered as teachers begin to plan for the fall.

Throughout the year, teachers assess learning and plan units of study that meet our students’ needs. Each unit of study is differentiated to meet the needs of students who learn in diverse ways. We also offer electives, called MAP classes (“My Action Plan”) that are designed to meet the needs and interests of our students.

Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education

Lyons Community School is a liberal arts school. We firmly believe that a liberal arts education is ideal for secondary school students even if they already know what career they are interested in pursuing. A liberal arts education means that instead of focusing studies in one or two fields students are exposed to a wide range of topics and ideas. The purpose of a liberal arts education is to learn how to think and how to learn. With those tools students can do whatever they wish to do with their lives. Regardless of a student’s interests, the better he gets at reading and understanding challenging texts, writing well and thinking clearly, the better prepared he will be for any goal he wishes to accomplish. Also, when studying the liberal arts, students are learning to see the larger picture and understand how ideas are connected.


NYS Consortium School

In June of 2014 Lyons became a NYS Consortium School.  This means we now can use Performance Based Assessment Tasks, instead of Regents, to demonstrate graduation level proficiency in various subject areas.  Students at Lyons participate in Roundtables and do Performance Tasks to demonstrate understanding and mastery.


Restorative Justice School

Lyons is part of a growing network of schools that believes in using Restorative methods across the school to help students grow and mature. Instead of purely punitive methods, Lyons employs programs like Justice Panel, Peer Mediation, Peer Mentoring and Circles to help students develop independence and a sense of communal responsibility.  We believe conversation and community help students develop strong decision making skills.