Our learning environment in the high school builds community by design and provides opportunities for learning both in and outside of the classroom. The circular forum on the first floor is the center for whole school meetings as well as for study during break times and before and after the formal school day. Teachers use all available spaces on the three floors of the school for working in pairs or small collaborative groups.
The students also use these spaces for relaxation, with ping pong in the forum proving very popular. Most of the students chose to eat their snacks and lunch in these spaces, and each grade level feels particular ownership for the floor where their lockers are. In addition, the seniors enjoy their designated space, where they can socialize and study with one another, and talk about their college and future aspirations with each other.
The classrooms themselves provide a variety of environments for learning. Some are specialized for purpose, most particularly the science labs. Teachers employ a variety of instructional approaches in recognition of students’ different learning styles. In preparation for college, skills are developed for independent study and for note-taking while listening to a lecture, and in preparation for many life situations, skills are developed for collaborative group work. Throughout, higher-order thinking skills are emphasized together with persisting with intellectual challenge.
Perhaps most importantly of all, teachers share their passion for their subjects and model a lifelong love of learning.