AAPLE’s mission is to offer a highly rigorous four-year academic pathway in a way that prepares students for top-tier college entrance while simultaneously providing sustained involvement in leadership and service based opportunities that mutually benefit students and the community.
AAPLE directs the collective energy of motivated and driven scholars to create a school culture and community that celebrates academic excellence and a focus on leadership and civic responsibility. The long-term vision of the AAPLE Academy is, “if you build it they will come”– back to Santa Barbara.
Our student’s lives are positively and profoundly impacted by the AAPLE Academy experience. Participants in our program are a diverse group of motivated and driven community leaders who are passionate about improving the community in which they live.
What We Do
By exposing students to the highest academic standards, leadership and service opportunities, rich local culture, and the support of the cohort community environment, students become leaders who regenerate their experience across their lifetime. Founder and Executive Director, Erik Nielsen believes that providing students a strategic academic pathway, leadership curriculum and programming, and impactful service opportunities students will attend prestigious four-year colleges and universities and then return to Santa Barbara to benefit our community as our doctors, city councilwomen, CEO’s, Executive Directors of our non-profit organizations, professors, and community volunteers.
Leadership has been defined as the process of empowering people to maximize their resources in order to achieve a common goal. AAPLE seeks to develop relationships between leaders to engage student groups to become larger than the sum of their parts. Based upon the core values of integrity, authenticity, ethical and appropriate behavior, and responsibility to community, leaders create the conditions to empower others to make lasting impact. This education is facilitated through required rigorous academics, integrated leadership curriculum, sustained community involvement, organizational and civic leadership committees, community lectures, academy governance, teambuilding excursions, on campus involvement, and a comprehensive four-year leadership portfolio. Academy identified leadership objectives, traits, and competencies guide students in defining, researching, experiencing, and evaluating leadership and understanding the leader within themselves.
In a scholastic environment, leadership begins in the classroom. Creating a culture that celebrates academic excellence is at the forefront of AAPLE mission. AAPLE’s four-year course of study asks students to follow a comprehensive curriculum that includes Honors, Advanced Placement, Santa Barbara City College, and, potentially, University of California at Santa Barbara coursework. The AAPLE Academy remains unique to San Marcos because of the school’s academic focus block schedule. The block schedule, also referred to as the “University Schedule” or the “Semester System”, allows students to take year-long classes in a semester much like students at colleges and universities. AAPLE students do more, as it is possible for students to take 2 years of Science, Math, English, or Social Studies in one academic year, expanding educational opportunities and creating advantages in college admissions.
Leadership Curriculum Integration
Enriching traditional Honors or Advanced Placement curriculum by pushing the boundaries of the relationship between traditional course content and leadership and service curriculum is the goal of the AAPLE cohort class leadership curriculum integration. The AAPLE Academy has identified eight competencies of leadership that are at the center of all assignments, projects, and excursions incorporated into each cohort class. The AAPLE Foundation supports leadership curriculum projects and two leadership enrichment excursions each semester that reinforce the study of leadership and civic service within traditional curriculum. Students are asked to make public presentations, debate issues, study past and contemporary leaders, submit leadership projects, and produce comprehensive four-year leadership portfolios that enhance a student’s understanding of the practice of leadership.
Service of Community
Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. One of the central goals of AAPLE is to enrich the lives of students and in turn have our students enrich the lives of the community. It is true that the AAPLE Academy raises the standard of academic achievement and scholastic excellence at San Marcos High School, but held as equally important is exposing students to rich local service and leadership opportunities. The value of this exposure is the depth by which students become involved and aware of the gifts our local community culture has to offer and the difference they can make when giving back.