The spruce Street School Difference

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Spruce Street School is a diverse environment of students, families, and staff. Every day, we strive to intentionally create a culture that fosters strong character, positive self-image, and a life-long excitement for learning. We honor and value each and every student: who an individual student is, where that student is from, and what that student brings to both the classroom and the community. We model and teach respect for all types of diversity, including cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity, learning differences, beliefs, and abilities.

Differentiated, Integrated Learning

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Children at Spruce Street School encounter real world learning situations where multiple subjects are combined to broaden understanding of an activity. The arts, sciences, social studies, and basic skills all interplay in our students' education. This interdisciplinary approach prepares children for holistic lifelong learning rather than compartmentalized training on discrete subjects. Science and social studies give our students the opportunity to experience life rather than simply learn about it. The classroom experience includes music instruction twice weekly, visual arts, and an artist-in-residence budget for each teacher. Each class creates an annual dramatic performance related to the themes they have learned over the year.

Main features of integrated curriculum are:

  • A combination of subjects
  • An emphasis on projects
  • Sources that go beyond textbooks
  • Relationships among concepts
  • Thematic units as organizing principles
  • Flexible schedules
  • Flexible student groupings.

Social-Emotional Development

In addition to academic progress, children at Spruce Street School benefit from time dedicated to developing social and emotional skills. They learn empathy, impulse control, anger management, and conflict resolution through the Second Step and Steps to Respect programs. Each and every member of the community is taught to take responsibility for his/her own behavior, to give and receive help graciously, and to be respectful of differences. We teach children (through curriculum and modeling) to recognize and respect their own feelings and the feelings of others. We emphasize collaboration in work and play. We teach and make use of conflict resolution skills in daily school life.

Children take these skills into the wider community, where they are engaged in service projects. Service Learning is central in the fulfillment of our Mission and Core Values, and is strongly integrated into the curriculum.

Learn more about Second Step and Steps to Respect.

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Multi-Age Classes

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At Spruce Street School students of diverse ages and skills interact to master developmentally appropriate practices at their own pace in small, flexible groups. Our multi-age classrooms usually span three age groups. Children experience an even broader multi-age community through All School Meetings, Electives, Arts Week, and Buddies.

The research-supported assumptions for multi-age classes are:

  • Children are inquisitive.
  • Each child has unique strengths and challenges.
  • Each child develops physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially at different rates.
  • Diverse age and skills in a community are established as the norm for children.
  • Children at different stages in development are able to work well together.
  • Learning is interactive, social, dynamic, and complex.
  • Learning involves knowledge, skills, dispositions, and feelings.
  • Learning progresses at individualized rates along a continuum of competency.
  • Children benefit through cooperative learning and cross-age tutoring.
  • Everyone is a learner and a teacher.
  • Student attitudes in multi-age classes tend to be more positive than in graded schools.
  • Teachers know a child well and provide continuity by working together for multiple years.
  • Teachers collaborate to improve chances for each child to be successful.

Community

Children learn and grow best in vibrant, safe, nurturing communities. Every Spruce Street School student is known, valued and respected. Through active engagement in both their school community and the broader community, students develop the skills and attitudes to be contributing citizens and inclusive leaders.

An example of a recent service learning project is our Spruce Street School Community Connector. This magazine is filled with the stories of the people who work in our changing urban neighborhood and were written by our Moving-On students, who are in their final year at Spruce Street School.  Students combined online research with personal interviews to complete the project.

Read this year's edition of the Spruce Street School Community Connector.

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