Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How big is Camelot overall?
A: The student population, K-12, is about 100. In addition, there are 16 members of the faculty and staff.
Q: What is the average class size?
10 to 12. Although there are occasional classes as small as two and as large as 15.
Q: How are the Lower School classes configured?
A: Camelot's entry level room is a dedicated kindergarten. The curriculum across the Lower School classrooms features a broad-based, hands-on approach to the academic fundamentals: reading, writing and math. In addition, students learn social studies and science skills through multi-discipline inquiry units themed around a central question.
Grades 1-4 are divided into two "MAPP" classrooms. "MAPP" stands for Multi-Age Progressive Primary. Skill levels and socially appropriate groupings determine classroom configurations, typically spanning two grade levels. Our Junior MAPP class combines mostly first and second grades, while Senior MAPP is comprised of mostly third and fourth grades.
The Middle Grades room is typically comprised of 5th and 6th graders but sometimes includes 7th graders as well. The emphasis here is on development of "student skills" that will ensure success in the Upper School. Again, students receive their instruction in small groups determined by skill level and learning style.
All Lower School students have a curriculum that is augmented with several "specials" which occur either weekly or twice a week, and include music, Spanish, computer instruction, art and physical education.
Q: Your school has a basketball team and a soccer team. Do students have to try out for the team? Are girls welcome?
A: Soccer is open to boys and girls. Fall soccer is for grades 6 through 12. Spring soccer is open to grades 3 through 6 and 7 through 12. Basketball is available to boys 6th grade and older. In spring 2007, volleyball will be available to girls 6th grade and older.
Attending practice (typically two 1 and 1/2 hour session per week afterschool) listening to the coaches, and playing with enthusiasm are the critical factors in choosing team members. Physical talent, ability and stamina will determine playing time.
Q: Does Camelot have a pre-school?
A: No. Our entry-level room is Kindergarten. Kindergarten applicants must turn five by the end of December of the year they apply and show readiness for a full academic day.
Q: When do students at your school begin to get exposure to a foreign language and what is it?
A: Kindergarten. Spanish. Students progress through the elementary grades in a curriculum that emphasizes vocabulary and oral skills.
Middle Grades students begin a written component of their Spanish study that is continued into the Upper School.
Q: Are any other languages available?
A: Exposure to Latin begins in the Middle Grades. It is also available as an after school club for Upper School students.
Q: Do you have an Accelerated Reader program? At what grade does it start?
A: Yes (and here is the AR List). Third Grade. In the Upper School (and Middle) students are required to read one book per module (roughly, three weeks). There is also a summer reading requirement.
Q: Is music offered?
A: Yes, we have a music teacher who works with both Lower and Upper school students.
Q: What about art?
A: There is a Lower School Art curriculum taught by one of our instructors.
Q: How do you deal with discipline?
A: We deal with it pro-actively by emphasing parent-student-teacher communication. The classroom teacher has additional tools, which include "Time Out" (for younger students) Notices (Behavior, Homework, Classwork, etc) and referral to the Director. The first three days of each school year are spent in student orientation during which time the rules are taught and discussed. All students in grades two and up must demonstrate mastery by passing a test on the rules.
Q: Do you require your students to wear a uniform?
A: No. We do, however, have a strictly enforced dress code, which stipulates, among other things, that no torn or suggestive clothing is allowed. In general, clothing, accessories or hairstyles likely to distract other students are not allowed.
Q: How do students address Camelot faculty and staff?
A: Upper School students (7-12 grades) address teachers by their first names. Lower School students add Mr. or Miss as in: Mr. Mike or Miss Thelma. Far from engendering a lack of respect, we find students are more respectful because of the close relationship they have with their teacher. This respect is reflected in their class work, homework and behavior in school.
Q: Your math program is so individualized; it sounds like the kids are teaching themselves.
A: Not at all. The one-on-one time a student has with the teacher is critical. It is instruction on exactly what that particular student needs at the time. But once the concept has been presented and all questions have been answered, a student needs to solve a number of problems independently to demonstrate mastery.
Q: What kind of social life is available to students in a school as small as Camelot?
A: Although we don't have a prom or host dances, Camelot does host/organize numerous events during the course of the school year that offer students the opportunity to socialize. Separate get-acquainted
pool parties for Lower and Upper School students took place over the summer. Regularly scheduled movie nights (with popcorn!) are fast becoming a Camelot tradition. The school hosts a pie supper once a year and also invites families to dine out to celebrate our Soccer and Basketball teams. We anticipate adding bowling nights this winter and A Senior Night Out in the spring.
In addition, Camelot offers a variety of overnight trips. During the 2005-2006 school year Camelot sponsored a trip to Italy as well as trips to Washington, DC. , Richmond, Monticello, and other destinations.
Q: Why is Camelot "for-profit"?
A: Being a small business that pays taxes and answers to one leader, Camelot is much less bureaucratic than most schools. This allows us to put the needs of the students ahead of everything else. Experienced leadership, dedicated teachers and the consistent application of sound educational principles have served Camelot well for nearly 25 years.
Although our area has no other school built on this model, across the country and around the world there are many such schools. The National Independent Private Schools Association (NIPSA) is the accrediting body that Camelot and numerous other for-profit schools participate in.
Q: Is the work that a student does at Camelot accepted at other schools?
A: Yes, Camelot is accredited by NIPSA (National Independent Private school Association) and the credit a student earns here is fully transferable to other schools and accepted for college admissions.
Q: What types of students attend Camelot?
A: Camelot attracts a variety of students. Although we see ourselves as a resource for gifted and talented students (the mastery-based approach allows them to learn at an accelerated pace) we are by no means limited to that profile. All students benefit from the small classes and individualized approach. Those with some gaps in their knowledge are also well-served, since the diagnostic testing done at the beginning of the year ensures that any deficits in foundational knowledge will be addressed.
In addition to being academically diverse, Camelot is also racially, socially and economically diverse. We attract families new to our area from all over the world.
Q: How does Camelot stack up against its competitors?
A: Camelot offers a program that is unique among Triangle schools. It is the only school that offers a mastery-based approach to learning. No assumptions are made about the skills a student has mastered based on age or grade level. Classes are small, curriculum is individualized, and each student is appropriately challenged. Many students tackle curriculum well beyond their actual grade level and the majority of our students test in the 90th percentile or higher on nationally standardized tests.
Q: What is 'Mastery-Based Learning'?
This approach (pioneered by Dr. Benjamin Bloom) enables gifted and talented students to achieve to the highest level of their ability, while ensuring that no student moves on without mastering key concepts needed for future success. Camelot's founder, Thelma De Carlo-Glynn, believes the common sense approach of mastery-based learning, while not commonly practised, is the key to unlocking potential in all students.
New material is introduced only after students demonstrate mastery of what has already been taught. How does the theory work in practice? Each student is given a "pretest" so the teacher can determine existing skills and knowledge. Instruction begins where demonstrated mastery ends. As the student works through new material, the teacher provides instruction, feedback and guidance. This may occur during one-on-one sessions, in small groups, or with the whole class. At appropriate intervals, determined by the teacher, the student undergoes assessment activities and testing to evaluate mastery of the material. Demonstrated mastery - a score of 80% or better - allows the student to move on to the next unit. Any performance below the mastery level results in the student returning to the material for further study and instruction. While mastery-based learning allows the academically gifted student to move through material at an accelerated pace, and thus remain challenged, it prevents less able students from "falling through the cracks".
Q: In comparing your school calendar with that of the Durham Public Schools, I see that the major vacation periods pretty much coincide but your school is closed a lot more at the beginning of the year for things like "Faculty Retreat" and "School Conferences". How do you justify all that time off?
A: First of all, even though the school is closed, the faculty and staff are working. Also, during these school closures, optional childcare is available for students in grades K-6.
During our two-day Faculty Retreat we review the results of the diagnostic testing we do during the first weeks of school for each student in every subject area. We do this in order to determine academic needs and placement of individual students as well as to identify class or school trends that warrant attention. At Parent Conferences the team of teachers sit down with each student and that student's parent(s) to share the "Progress Plan" that has been developed to serve the needs of that particular student. Time is allowed for parent and student feedback so by the end everyone is in agreement as to the academic goals and priorities for that student that year.
Nearly a quarter century of experience supports the view that the time we invest at the beginning of each year gauging students' strengths, weaknesses and learning styles is time well spent. Being appropriately challenged can make all the difference in how a student feels about school, and consequently how well they perform.
The situation is somewhat analogous to the choices one faces when painting a house. You can choose to start painting right away and achieve quick results. Or you can prep the surfaces you intend to paint by sanding and scraping and applying a primer and achieve long-lasting results.