Beginning School: Preschool and Kindergarten
With encouragement and guidance from teachers, preschoolers identify their areas of interest, follow their inquiry, and learn by doing. They explore the wooded areas of campus to answer questions about the natural world.
In kindergarten, students continue to be supported in their open inquiry and independent thinking, an approach that fosters curiosity, openness to differing perspectives, and the desire to keep learning. Activities include launching boats that they constructed with their 3rd grade “buddies” and the end-of-year celebration, known as the Kindergarten Olympics.
Lower School: 1st-5th Grades
Students deepen their understanding of conservation with a series of curriculum-focused nature walks, personal writing projects, and creation of a conservation park on campus. Studies in math and problem-solving are reinforced with hands-on constructivist projects related to real-world scenarios. As part of their studies, students learn from experts, engage in cross-disciplinary projects and simulations, and take part in off-campus class trips to study specific topics out in the field. Trips have included visits to local museums, downtown Portland, wastewater treatment plants, and the zoo. At the year's end, there's a Celebration of Learning night, in which students share what they’ve learned with their families.
Science is not a stand-alone subject. It is combined with technology and library skills in a class known as the Exploratorium. The three teachers who teach aspects of this class work together to bring these three knowledge bases together. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to research a topic and immerse themselves in understanding it. The goal is for students in every grade to be excited to explore and learn through exploration, wonder, discovery, and connection. The coursework is geared to each grade level, which means that in the younger grades the work is play based. As the students advance, they more fully immerse themselves in understanding and researching a topic, as well as presenting their findings.