On any given morning as one walks through the front door, it is evident that Corlears fosters the active involvement of all members of its community in support of its students. Parents drop their children off in their classrooms, leave notes for teachers and quickly touch base with their peers.
Once the day is underway, it is not uncommon to see parents linger in the lobby to peruse the display cases, reading ongoing classroom newsletters, catching up on Alumni news, and signing up to participate in various Parent Association functions. At the start of the school year the display cases contain writings from the teachers describing who they are as learners. Corlears is a place where adults model for children what it means to be active participants in their community and dedicated life-long learners.
Corlears takes a collaborative approach to all aspects of community life in and out of the classroom. The curriculum serves as a strong framework to structure students’ learning; however, it is reviewed and revised to address students’ interests and changing needs. As areas of study develop, students have a voice and are given opportunities to pose questions and express their ideas. Corlears strives to create an environment where children are passionate about what they are learning. Teachers value student inquiry and model what it means to listen actively and to value the perspective of others.
One of our most beloved examples of valuing individual voices is our weekly assembly. Every Friday morning all students (except 2/3s) gather in the gym to sing together and share significant classroom events. The host class shares stories from the 2/3s classes since they are too young for such a large crowd. Families are invited to listen and to sing. Stories are told, poems are read, and drawings and charts are displayed, as the children express pride and excitement in their work. Children are learning to appreciate, without judging, all of the forms that exploration and learning can take.
Teachers, specialists and parents work to create an environment that welcomes a variety of learning styles and a place of warmth and acceptance. Children learn what it means to welcome one another with respect for individual strengths and challenges, to be empathetic and to persist in solving difficult problems. Care and attention are given to all – even the animals who live among us.
As a progressive school Corlears is grounded in the values of equality and social justice. Everyone in the community is addressed by their first name. Every effort is made to use our fundraising events, such as the Annual Auction and Spring Fair, as community building events.
The tradition of the 8/9s beginning the school year with the creation of a clay cup serves as a perfect metaphor for the culture of Corlears. The creation of the cup begins with forming the base, which is circular and solid and provides the foundation for all that follows. From the base each layer is added as a coil that spirals upward and must be solidly attached to be strong. While each cup is formed according to the skill and aesthetic of its creator, each has a solid base and a wide open top – to both receive and release the contents. Once the cup is fired, it is strong and capable of containing that which is fluid.