In mid-October, I walked outside for recess duty at Colorado Academy’s Lower School. As I stepped onto the sidewalk, I saw a chalk art drawing of a beautiful heart with the message “I Love School” above it. I stopped in my tracks and reveled at the message. I looked out across the recess yard and wondered who may have written this inspiring message. Could it be the student playing kickball, or the student sitting under a tree enjoying a snack, or the student swinging and singing a song?
As a school principal, I want children who attend CA to love school and eagerly anticipate each new day. It’s exciting to think about crafting a school environment that provides children with an optimal place to learn, fail, create, laugh, and explore. As a Lower School, we are committed to cultivating five key areas, as children develop throughout their foundational years of elementary school. They include:
- Our primary goal is to recognize, challenge, and celebrate the whole child and to recognize the interconnectedness of the various arenas of development within each child. We look for and expect the best in all who work and play here.
- We are interested in sustaining a program and atmosphere that particularly engenders in its students the development of essential life skills that will pay dividends beyond the classroom experience. Promoting skills that range from learning to exchange ideas openly and hearing another’s perspective, to asking insightful questions, to accepting change and ambiguity—and learning how to adjust to both—to working collaboratively with a wide variety of people is at the heart of how we craft the school day.
- In the area of intellectual development, we subscribe to the theories of multiple intelligences, the principles of differentiated instruction, and the tenets of Design Thinking. We believe that offering a holistic and systemic vision of learning that includes mastery of core subjects, an understanding of both critical thinking skills and 21st century themes, information and technology skills, and life and career skills, all in a unified framework, must be at the heart of a school looking to prepare their graduates for the future.
- Creating an optimal learning environment plays a large role in affecting a child’s desire and motivation to learn. We are constantly striving to improve. The pursuit of excellence must simply be seen by all as a noble quest, worthy of everyone’s focused time, effort, and resources.
- Children need opportunities to develop skills that allow them to understand and apply the skill of leading self and then transferring that knowledge into leading others. We believe that service to others is a commitment and a life view that we are interested in nourishing in our students. As a school community, we are committed to supporting each student in their journey to develop an understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.
Within the Lower School, we collectively examine how these five areas impact a child’s development from Pre-K to Fifth Grade. Each new school year provides us with opportunities to review and refine how each aspect will unfold in our work with young children. It’s truly exciting work as an educator, and it’s the reason CA teachers also love school!