Nov. 30, 2017 Key Values Nurture Students and Create Life-Long Learners
Every parent wants the best for their child, especially when it comes to education. Putting your child in the hands of another can be a scary prospect. Christ Church Day School, in the quaint community of Coronado, understands parents’ concerns and embraces the responsibility of nurturing the children they are entrusted with. This is why their mission statement is more than simple educational goals; it’s the driving force guiding every step of the way to creating life-long learners.
With the goal of teaching the whole child and providing academic excellence, their mission statement is as follows: Christ Church Day School engages students to reason, create, serve, and lead in a nurturing, inclusive Episcopal learning community.
This is all about critical thinking. While rote learning does have its benefits, children are brought beyond basic fact memorization. They are encouraged to analyze, understand, and think creatively.
Teachers present students with “real world” problems (such as building a better bridge or designing a building that could withstand an earthquake) and an overarching question which will require students to thoughtfully come up with a solution in a collaborative environment. Using critical thinking skills, students analyze the situation, look at it from different angles, and pull together all possible elements for the best answer or solution to the problem. Oftentimes, older students will come up with the questions themselves so they are not just on the receiving end of education but are more involved in it.
Even the younger students can be involved in critical thinking projects with the teacher, providing a simpler question targeted to the skills they are learning in those grades.
The benefits of reasoning and critical thinking are far-reaching. Teachers across all subjects utilize this technique and prepare students for the future in which businesses are looking for employees who can be collaborative and think outside the box.
Having an extensive art and music program, CCDS is fortunate to not only have focused art and music classes but also be able to incorporate these skills and lessons throughout all academic subjects. The school even has a PE program, including a dance segment.
In terms of physical creations, students have many opportunities to create art projects both hand-made and through the use of technology. Rather than writing a traditional book report for Language Arts or a paper on something they learned in science class, students can use technology to present their findings in a unique and fun way, such as making a PowerPoint presentation, designing a brochure or a movie poster, or even creating a video book trailer and posting to their blog.
First graders have many opportunities to express themselves as well. In one recent project, they combine writing, art, creativity, and the holidays with their “How to disguise a turkey” project in which they draw a unique image of a turkey hidden in a way that protects it from being eaten. The children came up with some surprising disguises from a peacock to a basketball player.
This May, the school will feature an eclectic collection of artwork, which the teachers have saved throughout the year, in a huge art show they hold every year in the school’s hall. On display are amazing projects of everything from paintings to sculptures to 3D art.
In addition to art projects done in the classroom, the school also offers special after-school programs like Clay Club. And they have a parent program where volunteers come in once a month to share information about art history within different genres.
Beyond traditional art projects, students can try their hand at drama via skits in the classroom, or even take that a step further and have students take on the challenge of writing and performing skits in Spanish!
Service learning is an integral part of every aspect of the Day School community. Teaching the whole child means instilling in them a sense of responsibility to understand the deepest issues of humanity as well as become servant leaders to help and change these issues.
This Thanksgiving, the school and church worked together to provide Thanksgiving bags to needy families. Two hundred and thirty families enjoyed a wonderful holiday dinner, which was actually thirty additional bags beyond the projected goal.
In January, the school hosts a spaghetti dinner where the fifth and sixth graders will serve the meals, and the cost of entry to the dinner is a can of food. There is also a separate food drive to benefit a food pantry they support. Children learn that being thankful for our blessings is only part of our purpose for celebration; the key is to show them how to share those blessings with others.
All year long, there are service learning opportunities, big and small, in the classroom or school-wide and among all grade levels. And in some cases, students select projects to get behind when they learn of a particular need. Recently, fifth graders learned of the difficulties children in Sudan had getting water and decided to take action and raise money to refurbish a well.
As the children get older, the responsibility to serve shifts into their hands, and they are given required community service hours to perform. Each year, fifth graders need to accomplish at least six hours of service, while sixth graders must serve fifteen hours. These service hours need to be done outside of the school day, and many of the students surpass the number of required hours.
When students learn to become servants through service learning projects, they are also developing a sense of responsibility and eventually leadership. This leadership is fostered through various opportunities for students throughout the school day and beyond.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students take on several roles during Chapel including being class chaplains, leading prayers, doing readings, acting as chalice bearers for the once a week communion, and simply being general positive role models for the younger children.
Another role for the older kids is student council. Every student in grades four through six has the opportunity to participate. There is no election, so every student is appointed and serves their time of about 5-6 weeks. They will meet at lunch to plan events and activities (like Free Dress Day or Red Ribbon Week) which they will then lead the school in.
Other leadership roles include being in charge of the yearbook, speaking in front of the school or another class, and having duties at the once per month school assemblies.
Even K-1 students have their time in the leadership spotlight, taking turns with sixth graders leading the pledge on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
With 60 years of experience teaching and nurturing children, Christ Church Day School knows the importance of learning and growing. That’s why their mission—and mission statement—has evolved and grown with the children they teach.