When coming to a place where everything looks different than you have known your whole life it is hard to navigate where and how you will fit - how you will mold. Over time, that fear continues to grow as your world expands and you have little tiny humans to care and love as your heart now lives outside your body. The idea of sending them to a place for hours a day multiple days a week seems daunting. This was my mindset as the start of our school search began. I was nervous and scared because I knew what I had envisioned our family and yet I was not sure if that would be possible. Then I found The Innovation School and it almost felt too good to be true!! I analyzed the website, read the blog posts and all of the social media and sent the school’s website to friends back home. Some were experts in education and some were just moms looking for something special too, and they could not believe this type of school, really community, existed in our small town.
I was ecstatic and finally took a breath. I had found it, a place so special for our son. What I thought our son’s school day would look like was completely wrong, in the absolute best way! This school has exceeded and pushed any thought of what I thought it could be not just for him, but for our family. This school truly defines what it means to be a member of a community - a place that is an extension of your home. The teachers and staff that walk through the halls every day are not clocking in and out of a job; they are here for you through it all. Every emotion/feeling/milestone/success/struggle for your child. The staff see your child as a whole person.
Our classrooms do not look like typical American public-school classrooms and I’m eternally grateful! Children walk into this school and whether they are in Pre-K or 8th Grade they are welcomed to be who they are and they are encouraged to express their true selves. I have watched our son grow so much since he stepped foot into his classroom in September. His confidence, happiness, silliness, and leadership has exploded even beyond my wildest dreams, all the while his empathy and humility and compassion continue to grow and is nurtured through natural and authentic experiences.
While students in other schools are sitting at desks doing worksheets and coming home with so much paper in their backpacks, our son comes home with stories and experiences and projects from the collaborative work and PLAY he has been doing all day. The photos sent at the end of each day show how our son and all the children can learn anything and everything by just being allowed to explore their environment in ways that as adults we do not take the time to see anymore, and it is truly MAGICAL!!
Unexpectedly, we had two snow days at home in late March/April and while some children had iPads in front of them, I got to experience first-hand the learning our son has in his classroom right before my eyes, as we researched animal extinction and created a real video game - this is true learning and his expression of the information synthesized.
I’m so grateful for this community and staff and teachers and parents. I know every day when our son comes in for a hug hello after a full day of school, he has had a day where he was allowed to be the person he is in an environment that allows him to grow into the person he will continue to be.
I know for a lot of people the biggest question they have:
- How do they learn?
- What about tests?
I think about my life as an adult - when have I had to prove my knowledge through a test since graduating college? Never! As an adult when I do not know the answer I can seek out resources to learn, ask for help, seek out an expert or a friend/colleague that wants to learn this new topic too. This is exactly what is mirrored at our school. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about learning/researching and uncovering new ideas/concepts.
As a society, we have seen what has happens when we spend so much time on teaching to the test and worksheets instead of practicing socialization/social interaction/collaboration. Our school has the “secret sauce” to teach our children while not feeling like they are being taught, instead the students are on the journey of learning with their peers through the support of our teachers.
As a parent of a Yellow Band student (our Pre-K/Kindergarten classroom) I watch the older students and see how accomplished and well-spoken and intelligent they are and I cannot wait to see our son grow and follow his path with these core beliefs as his foundation.
Does our school look different than most? YES! Does our school provide more than what you get at other, more "traditional" schools? YES!
I’m so grateful to Maggie and the entire staff for working tirelessly to make our school so special.
A collection of thoughts, ideas and reflections from our educators, students, and families.