To provide a creative learning environment where students develop a deep sense of place and belonging and work to become engaged stewards of the natural world around them and active citizens within our community.
Our vision is to look beyond classroom walls. We believe that healthy communities are created by engaged, informed and compassionate citizens, and that children learn best when participating in authentic, hands-on learning experiences that are closely tied to the community. Through service, integrated curriculum and experiential learning, we provide opportunities for our students to actively build relationships locally, inspiring them to become catalysts of change in a global community.
Authentic, Place-based Learning
Place-based education, at its core, is about creating and sustaining healthy communities by deeply understanding one’s immediate surroundings. Curricular and community goals merge as students work with neighborhood organizations and agencies to do real work and practice authentic citizenship. First and second graders tour local restaurants and design one in their own classroom. Fourth and fifth graders learn about watersheds through multiple visits to Tryon Creek and then design a project to help with conservation. Middle school students identify and research local problems and propose policy-based solutions through presentations at Portland’s city hall.
It is our belief that children engage in more meaningful learning when they can make connections between larger concepts and the community in which they live and belong, and placed-based education provides the framework for that to occur.
Our small school is dependent upon the active participation of our families – whether it’s as in-classroom volunteers, fieldwork chaperones, day-to-day maintenance helpers, or as members on our board. However, family involvement is not solely encouraged based on necessity; it’s been well documented that a child’s achievement level rises when his or her family is an active participant at school.
As chaperones on fieldwork study, families learn about our civic process and our environment right alongside their child(ren). Just as the families who started the school wanted a place where their children could learn to be active citizens through fieldwork and service, we believe that their families bolster that learning by modeling active participation themselves
When students are surrounded by the culture of a community, they feel a sense of belonging. This leads them to more readily invest in the stories of others. The skills students learn when they create positive relationships with their peers and their teachers are equally valuable in the field when working with neighbors and other adult citizens.
Our small school community benefits each child by giving him or her the opportunity to connect with one another, learn about their classmates, and share. Students learn that human relationships are just as important as the rest of the curriculum. We build community at our school through regular practices such as morning meeting, all-school meetings, cross-grade partnerships (such as 8th grade-kindergarten buddies), problem-solving in class meetings using the positive discipline model, extensive small group work, events such as the all-school lunch, the talent show, and more.