Countryside School

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Time for a day trip! South on Highway 57 to Champaign, Illinois I went, headed for Countryside School and a visit with new Head of School Stephanie Harman.

Founded in 1992, today Countryside serves 149 students in kindergarten through grade 8. The school moved to its own 14-acre campus in 1996 and has since added a classroom wing and gym/performing arts center to its main building. From its beginnings, the program has emphasized projects-based curriculum strong in math, science, and engineering.

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What one aspect of Countryside School would Stephanie most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? She offers:

“At Countryside School we truly live our mission of ‘joy in learning, excellence in education.’ Each and every morning, I open the car doors for students who have shining eyes; I see inspired students ready for the adventures of the day. The children are eager and enthusiastic about what the day will bring! I wish you could see the joy on our students’ faces as they discover new interests, learn about themselves and one another, and grapple with challenging curricula. It is a magical place. Children are capable of great things, and this is exemplified beautifully at Countryside School.”

Stephanie in class 2

The New School

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The second of our 2016 heads meetings throughout the ISACS region took place in mid-January at The New School, where President and Head of School Dennis Chapman was our host. Located in Fayetteville, the school is tucked away in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northwest Arkansas, a region that is home to the University of Arkansas and three Fortune 500 companies, Walmart, JB Hunt Transport and Tyson Foods.

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STEAMFounded in 1971, The New School currently serves 360 students from age one to grade eight. Just a day or two after our meeting, The New School Board of Trustees made the momentous decision to add a high school, with plans to welcome a ninth grade in fall 2016. The school’s mission is to inspire a love of learning and empower students to reach their potential for academic achievement, creativity, and citizenship. 

What one aspect of The New School would Dennis Chapman most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues? He states:

The New School is true to its name as we are constantly renewing our academic program and implementing the latest methods in our classrooms. A great example is our new Tinkering Studio, which has transformed our ability for students to engage in hands-on learning. You can see it in our students’ eyes when the intellectual spark is ignited while they are learning in this new space. The Tinkering Studio has been the latest tool for us to expand upon what has always been at the heart of our school, which is highly engaged teaching and learning. 

Tinkering Studio

 

University School of Milwaukee

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I have had two opportunities in my now 21-month tenure to visit University School of Milwaukee. The first was a June 2015 visit to welcome new ISACS trustee Rishi Raghunathan, University School history teacher. I returned in early January for the second of ISACS’ 2016 regional heads meetings, hosted by Rishi and Head of School Laura Fuller.

UWM 2Founded in 1963, today University School serves 1,107 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Its mission states:

University School of Milwaukee provides an exceptional PK-12 independent school education in a supportive, inclusive community built on the foundation of our Common Trust. By igniting a passion for learning, leadership, and service, the School prepares each student – as an individual – for success in higher education and a life of purpose. USM embraces a tradition of superior academic achievement through a commitment to expertise and innovation in our School.

What one aspect of University School would Laura Fuller most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? Laura offers:

University School is deeply entrenched in the implementation of our most recently developed Strategic Plan (2013-2020). Organized around three Centers: Professional Leadership and Innovative Teaching, Global Learning and Engagement, and Experiential Learning, the Strategic Plan is USM’s gateway to our future as the leading independent school in the Milwaukee area. Additionally, in the spring of 2015, the Board of Trustees approved a 27 million dollar fund raising initiative to support the structural and functional needs of the Plan. The construction of a new Academic Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Upper School Commons and Performing Arts Center, a Community gathering space for Lower School families, as well as, increased endowment goals to support Strategic Plan initiatives, will provide the ultimate foundation for successful completion of our Strategic Plan cycle.

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Rohan Woods School

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A meeting with Head of School Sam Templin-Page allowed for a brief visit to Rohan Woods School. Situated in Kirkwood, Missouri, the school was established in 1937.

Garden Radish (002)Today, Rohan Woods serves 100 students from age two to grade six. Its mission is to provide a challenging academic program that emphasizes personal responsibility and respect for all individuals in a community where every child is cherished, encouraged and prepared for continued success.

The program emphasizes personalized instruction while developing leadership skills in every student. A special feature is the school’s year-round garden, recently recognized by the Green Building Council and recipient of a grant from Whole Kids Foundation.

What one aspect of Rohan Woods would Sam Templin-Page most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues? Sam says:

“There is such an advantage for students to attend a school that is not only committed to small class sizes but to a small school environment in general.  Everyone on campus knows everyone else, which lends to a warm, cohesive community; one that makes students more accountable than most but also provides the support network to facilitate student risk taking.”

Crossroads College Preparatory School

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Having visited many times during my years in St. Louis, a return visit to Crossroads College Preparatory School with conversation with Head of School Jason Heisserer was a highlight of my recent time in the city.

Founded as an independent middle school in 1974, Crossroads School (as it was known at the time) added high school grades in 1981. Today, Crossroads College Prep serves 223 students in grades 7-12.

Crossroads 3A hallmark of the school is its inclusive culture as evidenced by a student body diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and gender identity, and economic status — with more than 50% receiving need-based tuition assistance. The school mission states:

Crossroads College Preparatory School offers an academically challenging curriculum to a diverse and inclusive community of students in grades seven through twelve. Crossroads College Prep encourages its students to engage their imaginations in every endeavor, ranging from the sciences to the fine arts, and strives to develop respectful citizens, who apply scholarship, imagination, and critical thinking to civic and social responsibility in their communities and beyond.

A new addition to the school program and facilities is the Crossroads Makerspace, opened in December 2015. As a result, the school has created a new middle school robotics activity, an expanded role in the curriculum for makers and builders activities, an upper school introduction to engineering course, and direct instruction in design thinking for grades 7, 8 and 9.

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What one aspect of Crossroads would my host most like to highlight for his ISACS colleagues? Says Jason:

The highlight of our school is our students. They are smart and good and committed to one another and to Crossroads.

Chesterfield Day School

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While in St.  Louis for the January 2016 heads regional meeting, I had the opportunity to stop by Chesterfield Day School. There I met with new Head of School Rachana Creeth and enjoyed a tour. After a career in business, Rachana moved to Chesterfield Day in 2012 as Director of Finance and Administration, then served as Interim Head, and was appointed Head of School in 2015.

Situated in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Chesterfield Day was founded in 1962. Today the school serves 147 students, toddler through grade 6, with a mission to provide a personalized education of unparalleled excellence for students of diverse backgrounds. The program is Montessori through grade 1, affiliated with the American Montessori Society.

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What one aspect of Chesterfield Day would Rachana most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues?  She states:

I am so proud to be a part of a school that has a robust, innovative and preparatory program that graduates students of remarkable character who go on to secondary schools of their choosing.  We work each day to live our vision: Through meaningful work, CDS students develop fundamental skills, think creatively and critically, identify and solve complex problems of the world, express themselves to the community, and grow in character.Chesterfield Day School 3