I look back on my last posting and it is hard to believe that a month has passed. I have been busy negotiating for space, finishing up the term at the university where I teach, and interviewing faculty. Time flew!
As I have been talking with teachers, I have enjoyed very positive feedback on the goals of the school and its philosophy. A tough part is describing our students. For obvious reasons, this is important to prospective faculty. Although the school is geared to have the most supportive environment for learning for students, it is not a public school with a mandate to admit everybody and anybody. We are small and private. We will admit anybody whose values align with our honor code and who, in our professional opinion, can flourish in our school.
Our curriculum is advanced and at a level to enable students to progress readily into an advanced placement oriented high school and, ultimately, college for continued education as a professional or entrepreneur. We encourage creativity and curiosity and provide opportunities for children to learn to be action takers.
We are not interested in developing passive responders. The passive aggressive attitude prevalent in many schools is discouraged in our school. Truthfully, aggressive negative attitudes are also actively discouraged. However, these conditions do begin to describe a child who will thrive in our setting. This child doesn’t have to be a genius but the actively inquisitive or creative child (or one that could have been described like that in kindergarten) should thrive and become a happy hardworking learner who acts with integrity.
We prefer to admit students of a variety of backgrounds and educational levels and let our supportive learning environment help them to be successful.
The PrePrimary class admits children of all ages who are not yet strong readers (i.e. reading close to the 2nd grade level). Other students are placed into the class into which their reading and math skill attainment qualifies them (Primary, Elementary, or Grammar). We have admission tests for a reason. We take into account the prospective student’s current school level attainment, their standardized test scores from other schools, our admission test and official interview. We make a holistic assessment and admit children into the grade and class for which their skill level qualifies them. This may be above their last placement by one or more grades or, in some circumstances, it may mean being placed below their last school grade placement. We take children as they are and let them know that their entry condition does not define what they can do.
Even if a child is placed into a lower grade than anticipated, the multiple grade structure of our classes allows for children who are behind in one area, to continue to make progress in other foundation skills and to receive directed instruction to catch up in a weaker area. While the beginning kindergarten student will benefit from our program from their start in school, we believe that the bored or ignored child from a different setting will receive the support and encouragement to transform them into an active happy learner progressing at a challenging pace through the curriculum. The bright student may take hold and soar since all students are encouraged to not just be satisfied with a mediocre pace of learning but to seek one that challenges them.
Thus, when we have space available, we prefer to admit children and let them demonstrate that they can thrive in our school or that our school is not one that they can excel in. We also are somewhat pragmatic. As a small private school, we do not have the resources to educate the profoundly physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, or emotionally disturbed. There are other public programs that address their very specific needs. If an admitted student cannot learn a year’s worth of our curriculum by the end of 5 terms, then we will encourage that student's family to find a school that better meets that child’s learning style and needs.
So, we start this school in reaction to the restriction of learning, the clipping the wings of our children, the standardization of learning found in other settings. We admit to our school, children who have the potential to become students who actively pursue learning, who can learn to fly and soar! We release from our school students who need more or different instruction than we can provide. By doing so, we break the glass ceiling that may have inadvertently been place on many of our children by being ignored or overlooked in classes with larger numbers of students, by the allowing of bored and apathetic students to move on with little to no work, and the requiring of students who “get it” to stay at a lower level way past the time they need.
Janice Black, Ed. Sp. Ph. D.
12/13/2022 08:31:28 am
hanks for sharing the article, and more importantly, your personal experience of mindfully using our emotions as data about our inner state and knowing when it’s better to de-escalate by taking a time out are great tools. Appreciate you reading and sharing your story since I can certainly relate and I think others can to
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