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Founded in 1973, it is an independent school, serving children in preschool through 8th grade. Its mission is to nurture and prepare children for life by integrating character education with a strong academic program. The school provides small classes, which are purposefully designed as “blends,” or two-grade classrooms. This setup enables teachers to challenge students with academic material that is appropriate for their intellectual readiness, regardless of age or grade. A small school with six classrooms, fewer than 100 children attend Japhet School each year.
Integrated with academics is Japhet School’s national award-winning[which?] character education curriculum, which aims to build a peaceful community within the school and give Japhet students a foundation of character. Japhet is a National School of Character, and was the first school in Michigan—and the first independent school in the country—to receive this award. Despite Japhet's small size, large neighboring school districts have engaged Japhet School educators to train their own teachers in Japhet's character education method. Japhet staff also travel out of state to conduct this training.
In 1973 a group of teachers and parents founded the school. Their rationale was that public schools were no longer being "moral educators".
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Japhet School's character quality curriculum is integrated into all of the school's activities. The school has food, employs a "character coach," and has 20-minute insertions of character-building activities that are separated from academics. Each quality is defined with a set of specific “action statements” that help students put good character into practice at home, at school, and in the community. The character qualities are initiative, courage, peace, justice, gratitude, respect for self, respect for others, personal habits, self-control, joy, industry, obedience, thrift, reliability, humility, judgment, patriotism, and punctuality.
Teaching oral presentation is another of Japhet's educational specialties. At Japhet, students perform onstage from preschool through 8th grade and also make academic presentations to the entire student body and guests starting in 1st grade. By 8th grade, they are expected to deliver a 25-minute keynote address about one of the school's character qualities, this being a graduation requirement. Students graduate at 8th grade and then enter public, parochial, or independent high schools.
Class trips occur each spring, beginning in 3rd/4th grade, to provide an opportunity to learn in a different setting. 7th/8th-grade class trips have offered excursions to Chicago and Washington, D.C. Sightseeing is integrated with hands-on learning in archaeology, science, and social studies. The 5th/6th-grade class stays closer to home with two-day educational trips to cities such as Cleveland or Stratford, Ontario. In September, Japhet’s 5th- through 8th-graders attend the Leelanau Outdoor Center on the shores of Lake Michigan. There, students test themselves and stretch their physical, emotional, and social limits as they learn to solve problems as a team and to get to know each other before making judgments. The 3rd/4th-grade class has an annual overnight getaway to Mackinac Island or to the hands-on I-5 science museum in Lansing.
Demographics and class sizes
A low student-to-teacher ratio (fewer than 20 students in first through eighth grades) gives individual support and increased opportunity to excel. Each classroom has two grades within it, a purposeful design to enable academic individualization. Students in all grades know each other by name, and teachers and staff know each child in the school.
Japhet School teachers teach children for two years in this small setting. This affords first-hand knowledge and awareness of each student’s accomplishments and potential, as well as insight into the learning styles of each child.
As of 2002 the average annual tuition was $6,900 ($9187.66 when adjusted for inflation).
Extra-curricular activities and special events
The school does not offer religious education. The school has "Inspo", a weekly assemblie involving speakers giving speeches to students.
October—Pumpkin Patch, an all-school field trip to Blake's Orchard. Students are paired as multi-age "buddies," a pairing that is revisited with special activities throughout the year.
November—Gratitude Service, an hour-long presentation on gratitude just prior to Thanksgiving, prepared by the 7th/8th-grade class.
December—Holiday Giving, a musical holiday concert in which all students perform.
January—Math Week, culmimating in Family Math Night, where students bring their parents in for math-based activities, and Taste of the World Lunch
March—Science Extravaganza and Dessert Auction. Science Extravaganza features either Science Fair (student experiments for which they used the Scientific Method) or Invention Fair. Dessert Auction features an auction of desserts prepared by the parents.
May—Spring Sharing, an all-school musical theater event, written by the 7th and 8th Grade teacher, Susan Butler,and culminating in a dinner theater on its last performance date.
The school offers educational programs during the summer open to all ages.
- "School aims to make pupils Good Citizens." Associated Press at The Argus-Press (Owosso, Michigan). Wednesday May 15, 2002. p. 9. Retrieved on November 6, 2013.
- "Japhet School Celebrates 40 Years and Moves to Clawson." Japhet School. July 9, 2013. Retrieved on November 6, 2013. (Archive) "31202 Dorchester, Madison Heights, MI 48701" "Mailing address through August 20: above" and "Mailing address after August 20: 839 S. Crooks, Clawson, MI 48017"