Welcome to the Paideia elementary school. We have 12 multi-age classrooms in which two teachers create their own wonderful world of ideas and interaction. The age range in our elementary—five-to-twelve years old—is a wide world of intellectual and social development. Classes are known by the teachers’ first names instead of grade levels, which creates a sense of community in the larger context of the school.
We have a strong academic program within a caring, attentive and stimulating environment where children learn to explore and understand themselves and develop intellectually. This is a place for friendships and learning. Teachers work to get to know their students individually and provide a stimulating and supportive classroom.
We want Paideia to be a place that children are eager to come to and somewhat reluctant to leave, a place where parents trust and know their children are being cared for and growing intellectually and emotionally. This emphasis on wanting to be at school because it is fun, friendly and interesting is an oft-stated observance by Paul Bianchi, our head of school, because it illustrates the kind of school Paideia is.
The independence we work to cultivate in our students is reflected in the respect for the independence and capability of our teachers. This openness and flexibility creates classes that are rich, diverse, and challenging. All of these distinct states of learning unite when we come together for assemblies and when we play side by side at recess.
We believe the constellation of relative strengths and weaknesses among any group of students can differ widely; no two brains and no two children are alike.
Teachers help children learn how to work together cooperatively and effectively.
We, of course, want children to acquire the basic skills needed for success in school and in life: among other things, the ability to read and write skillfully; a facility with numbers, mathematical concepts and real-life problem solving; and a working knowledge about the natural world. But we should also ask something more ambitious of the place we send our children. Schools should engage learners with lessons and materials that are both interesting and intellectually challenging.
Good teaching demands creativity and innovation. While Paideia teachers take pride in the rich academic lessons and units they develop, they also regularly alter these lessons to best suit their students. The alterations may include incorporating new technologies or checking with colleagues and other professional references for different strategies. All teachers in the elementary program rely on the elementary school librarians to gather reference material and resources.