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Things to Know About TAGOS Leadership Academy

TAGOS Mission

The TAGOS learning environment builds relationships in order to motivate students to grow academically and relationally so they can succeed as mindful members of their community.

TAGOS (Tailoring Academics to Guide Our Students) Leadership Academy is a Free Public Charter School Serving Students in Grades 7 - 12 and is home to nearly 70 students, 4 advisors, a student services specialist, 2 aides, and a building secretary. Students who were struggling in the traditional schools are now flourishing in the TAGOS project-based learning environment. Students attend based on their selection in either our first Friday in June or first Friday in January bi-annual lotteries. To be eligible for the TAGOS lottery, students must turn in an application prior to the lottery date.

It is highly recommended you complete the TAGOS Application, and then call us to schedule a visit (parent and student together) and become familiar with our students, staff, and philosophy.


Student Focused ~ Rigorous ~ Project Based ~ Standards Driven

Leadership is all about people and ideas. It is the infusion of ideas into people's hearts and minds that allow them to do incredible things. TAGOS Leadership Academy aims to create a unique learning experience. A culture of learning that creates new freedom and motivation to say "we can create learning and reinvent learning and communities." We often say that teaching is "missionary work" educating one student at a time. TAGOS Leadership Academy aims to educate each student so that they may realize the possibilities of acting on their dreams and desires. TAGOS realizes the potential in all students.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.

  • PBL is synonymous with learning in depth. A well-designed project provokes students to encounter (and struggle with) the central concepts and principles of a discipline.
  • PBL teaches students 21st century skills as well as content. These skills include communication and presentation skills, organization and time management skills, research and inquiry skills, self-assessment and reflection skills, and group participation and leadership skills.
  • PBL is done by individuals and by groups of students working together toward a common goal. Performance is assessed on an individual basis, and takes into account the quality of the product produced, the depth of content understanding demonstrated, and the contributions made to the ongoing process of project realization.
  • PBL allows students to reflect upon their own ideas and opinions, exercise voice and choice, and make decisions that affect project outcomes and the learning process in general.

Combining these considerations, we define Project Based Learning as: a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. This methodology yields projects that meet today’s standards for accountability and teach students the academic content and the 21st century skills they need for life success.

School History

TAGOS began with a planning committee made up of community members, teachers, local business and government officials, and parents. The initial funding for the school came from the state of Wisconsin in the form of a planning grant. Funds from the planning grant were used to visit model project-based schools in the United States. Members from the planning team visited schools in San Diego, CA, Appleton, WI, Sante Fe, NM, and Henderson, MN. The team believes that what we have developed at TAGOS Leadership Academy represents the best practice in project-based learning (PBL).

TAGOS opened its doors to 36 students, 2 advisors and a building secretary in the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. At this time we were awaiting the completion of construction at ArrowPark, formerly Parker Pen. For the first semester we occupied a rental building on Main Street in Janesville, WI. Space was tight. We had to use the parking lot for ‘circle time’ and made due the best we could. On December 23, 2007, TAGOS began its occupancy at Arrow Park.

Why do students need 21st century skills?

Every child in American needs 21st century knowledge and skills to succeed as effective citizens, workers and leaders in the 21st century. There is a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces. To successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges and a globally competitive workforce, U.S. schools must align classroom environments with real world environments by infusing 21st century skills into their teaching and learning.

Learning in the 21st century is based on the essential skills that our children need to succeed as citizens and workers in the 21st century. "The Partnership for 21st Century Skills" has identified six key elements of a 21st century education, which are described below.

What is the frame work for 21st century skills?

Core Subjects

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, identifies the core subjects as English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history; and geography.

21st century content

Several significant, emerging content areas are critical to success in communities and workplaces. These content areas typically are not emphasized in schools today:

  • Global awareness
  • Financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy
  • Civic literacy
  • Health and wellness awareness

Learning and thinking skills

As much as students need to learn academic content, they also need to know how to keep learning — and make effective and innovative use of what they know — throughout their lives. Learning and Thinking Skills are comprised of:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Creativity and Innovation Skills
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Information and Media Literacy Skills
  • Contextual Learning Skills

Information and communications technology literacy

Information and communications technology (ICT) literacy is the ability to use technology to develop 21st century content knowledge and skills, in support of 21st century teaching and learning

Life skills

Good teachers have always incorporated life skills into their pedagogy. The challenge today is to incorporate these essential skills into schools deliberately, strategically and broadly. Life skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Personal Productivity
  • Personal Responsibility
  • People Skills
  • Self Direction
  • Social Responsibility

21st century assessments

Authentic 21st century assessments are the essential foundation of a 21st century education. Assessments must measure all five results that matter — core subjects; 21st century content; learning skills; ICT literacy; and life skills. To be effective, sustainable and affordable, assessments must use modern technologies to increase efficiency and timeliness. Standardized tests alone can measure only a few of the important skills and knowledge students should learn. A balance of assessments, including high-quality standardized testing along with effective classroom assessments, offers students a powerful way to master the content and skills central to success.