The Paideia School

Message from the Head of School

Paul B sitting outside

When I watch children get out of their morning carpools, I often think how complicated school and the enterprise of education can be. They arrive with their relative strengths and weaknesses, enthusiasms and worries, and a book bag full of expectations, only some of which they have packed, plus they are constantly changing and not all in the same ways or at the same pace. In their school day, they will encounter many of life’s timeless challenges: the need for motivation and perseverance, the values of friendship and the tests of character, individual differences and community norms. Those who describe or criticize schools often miss the complexity of everything that happens in school. For those of us who spend the day teaching children, our job is to embrace it.

I encourage you to dig deep in looking at Paideia School. There are many ways to compile information and perspective. On this web site and in other Paideia publications, there are enough words to fill an encyclopedia. Check with a variety of people who have attended Paideia or who have or have had children here. Come to prospective parent information meetings and ask questions; arrange for a tour with the admissions office. Look at school data you find relevant. Try to get a feel for the culture of the school and important dimensions of its intellectual and emotional climate. Consider some immeasurable things: the enthusiasm for learning apparent in students of all ages, the appreciation of diversity, the respect for excellence, the opportunity for service to others, and the natural flow of empathy.

A good school, like good teaching, is an art, and no school is perfect. Two generations of parents and teachers have joined together to build the best school we can, and we are committed to making it better with each passing year. We hope you get to know Paideia, and we welcome your interest.

Paul Bianchi
Head of School

A New Door, Another Opening.
1509 Door

In early August the side door to the 1509 building was replaced. The maintenance team contracted with craftsman Ben Davis ‘06 for the project. The old door had been there since the day the school opened, and had been repaired many times. It was a well-used door: two generations of children and adults, thousands and thousands of people had gone through it. Some of the students from the original oldest junior high class have now retired. The door remained.

The door has been practically and symbolically the entrance to 1509 Ponce, our original building. The entranceway is humble and does not presume to overwhelm those who pass through it with institutional grandeur. I went to a college which epitomized institutional grandeur; it washed over you like an Atlantic tidal wave, and for fear of being swept away, many never took a breath to enjoy the surf.

That’s not the dynamic one wants for children in an elementary and secondary school. Schools should welcome children, not intimidate them. Our entranceway leads to a corridor as humble as our side door. The corridor is neither wide nor well-lit, but children descending from the upper floors can build up a respectable sprint as they fly past my office door. The playground awaits.  They seem to go even faster when they shout.

Paideia is a successful school by almost every criteria people use to measure success in schools. We attract engaged families, eager students, and talented teachers; the budgets are balanced with respectable surpluses, there is a half century of good governance by trustees, and widespread loyalty to the community among parents, alums, and alum parents. We do a good and steadily improving job opening our eyes to blind spots, our own and those from the larger community; most recently we have been working on doing better widening the door to enhance diversity and equity. Paideia has been able to get better because we do not think ourselves perfect.

As we enter our second fifty years, we should find comfort in the school’s successes. But rather than puff up with institutional accomplishment and splendor, let us attend, as we always have, to the emotional and intellectual growth of children as well as the magical interplay that occurs between a young learner and a supportive community. We want Paideia to be seen in the shadows cast by our students, not the other way around. 

Fix the doors when need be, but focus mainly on the all the important and good things within. 


Paul Bianchi

August 2022