Principal Blog - August

AXL Community,

Welcome to the 2022-23 school year! I have been eagerly anticipating saying those words since the spring of 2022, when we made several powerful moves to continue to grow our mission to Engage, Empower, and Achieve:

  • EL Education. Like many schools around the world, the 2020-21 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic impact on how we approached education, and we have partnered with EL Education, the pioneering organization behind the Expeditionary Learning movement. EL Education is working with us this year to help reshape the experience of scholars at AXL Academy with a renewed focus on on the concept of what it means to be a Crew, how to ignite a passion for learning through fieldwork expeditions in the “real” world, and what it truly means to provide individualized experiences for our scholars.

  • No Place For Hate. As a school with an incredibly diverse population that near-perfectly mirrors the scholar population in Aurora Public Schools, we know that the key to academic success lies in the success of our school culture. This has led us to work to become a No Place For Hate school, an initiative sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Through our work with ADL and Generation Schools Network, we hope to engage our scholars and our staff in a thoughtful approach to bias and equity in education that will result in a more unified school community centered on empathy, kindness, and a true model of Crew. Our scholars will take the No Place For Hate Pledge before the end of September, and our staff members have already begun to do so.

  • Watch DOGS. For the 2022-23 school year, we have partnered with an organization called Watch DOGS, or Dads Of Great Students. Mothers and “mother figures” have been the socially accepted bedrock of the education of children for generations, while fathers have traditionally not been as involved in their children’s schools. However, one recent analysis of 66 studies of urban children in pre-K through college found that on average, involved fathers of all races were associated with significantly better education outcomes when they participate in their children’s education, equal to nearly an additional half year of typical academic learning. The Watch DOGS program seeks to bring more fathers and “father figures” into the school building as additional playground supervisors, hall monitors, classroom volunteers, and general cheerleaders for scholars. We will have a table at our Back to School Night to recruit additional fathers and father figures to participate in this program during the year.

Overall, we are extremely excited about the long-term and short-term impacts that these initiatives will have on our children’s academic growth and well-being. Want to participate? Please reach out to me, Principal Noah Tonk, at

Have a great school year, and stay AXL SHARP!

Principal Noah Tonk