“One word will sum up the principles that underlie The School in Rose Valley. That word is integrity. … An integer is a whole number, or complete entity. Integrity is the state of being whole. A whole child has poise, sincerity, alertness and physical vigor. Lacking these, he lacks integrity. ... The task of a school then is to keep constantly in mind the picture of a whole child and to see that growth is balanced.” -Grace Rotzel, The School in Rose Valley, p. 18
At The School in Rose Valley, the curriculum connects heads, hands, and hearts. Literacy, math, science, social studies, languages, technology, service and partnership, art, music, wood shop, and unstructured play are interwoven in a challenging core of study and experience. This allows students to approach concepts and content from multiple perspectives at developmentally appropriate points, deepening conceptual understanding. Students build higher-order skills—investigating, evaluating, problem-solving, and communicating—in their ongoing collaboration with peers and teachers. Students reflect frequently on their learning and follow their own questions, gradually fitting knowledge into a meaningful whole.
Our progressive pedagogy demands that we see the significance and intelligence of what children are doing and almost doing. At the heart of this stance is practicing frequent authentic assessments of students’ work. Teachers observe their students carefully and thoughtfully. They look for patterns, strategies, and miscues as opportunities to inform their teaching. They use this information to differentiate the instruction in order to provide our unique set of learners with different combinations of appropriate instruction methodologies.
While much of the teaching and learning at The School in Rose Valley are integrated, engaging students in multiple subjects and disciplines, each major element of the curriculum is described separately below.
Physical Development – At The School in Rose Valley, we view furthering children’s physical development as crucial and integral to the curriculum. Healthy children must have the opportunity to be physically active and to play. They need to know how to relax and to eat properly. For children to learn in school, they must be able to pay attention to teachers, to hold a pencil properly and to focus on their work. All of the SRV teachers work on the students’ physical development, from building fine motor skills in mathematics and art, to practicing listening skills in reading and music.
Emotional and Social Development – The development of emotional intelligence and social skills is critical for children to be happy and well adjusted, to learn in school, and to live fulfilling and successful lives. At The School in Rose Valley the curriculum includes serious work on students’ emotional and social well-being. We teach students to recognize and handle their feelings appropriately. Students practice risk taking and teachers help them learn how to bounce back and learn from mistakes. Our focus on community, responsibility and group participation helps the students learn the skills needed to work in groups and enjoy healthy relationships.
Moral Development – Moral development is not a separate section of the curriculum, but is intentionally interwoven in everything we teach at The School in Rose Valley. We value and actively teach students about democracy, encompassing freedom, responsibility, and participation. We honor diversity, appreciate difference, and value respectful communication, and we uphold these values in our classrooms. We advance sustainability as personal, campus, local, and global practices. And we actively teach and expect students to manage themselves and their interpersonal relationships increasingly independently and without violence.
Learning Disposition – Good students are curious, open-minded and flexible thinkers. They know themselves as learners, and they are self-motivated and disciplined. They are skilled in thinking analytically, and they understand how to find and evaluate information. Students must learn the skills and habits of mind that make learning in school accessible and fun. At The School in Rose Valley, teachers intentionally teach students how to be engaged, active and responsible learners.
Language Arts – The Language Arts curriculum at The School in Rose Valley incorporates listening, speaking, reading and writing. It is research-based, and built on our own standards and benchmarks, which meet or exceed state and national standards. The curriculum leads children to become strong verbal communicators, to develop the reading strategies and skills needed to derive meaning from text and to enjoy great literature, and to learn the strategies and skills needed to communicate their ideas to others through writing. Our goal is to help students live rich literate lives.
Mathematics – The mathematics curriculum at The School in Rose Valley is based on our own Standards and benchmarks, which meet or exceed the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The primary program used at most grade levels is Everyday Mathematics, and this is supplemented by teachers as needed with a variety of rich materials and resources. The curriculum emphasizes mathematical thinking, problem solving and communication. Instruction includes hands-on experiences as well as practice with number facts and computation.
Social Studies – The social studies curriculum at The School in Rose Valley meets or exceeds the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies. The curriculum covers the areas of Individuality & Community; Culture; People, Places & Environments; Time, Continuity & Change; Civics & Governance; and Economics. Components of the program include factual content, skills, and perspectives and values. Teachers weave Social Studies instruction and experiences into age-appropriate and engaging themes of study, often incorporating Language Arts, Mathematics, and various specialist teachers in integrated work. Whether individual topics are teacher-led or inspired by students’ interests and questions, the same general themes are taught over the course of each one- or two-year program.
Technology – At The School in Rose Valley we define “technology” as tools for learning, ranging from paper and pencil to hammer and nails, spinning wheel, cameras and computers. We believe that technology should be used to support active, purposeful, child-centered learning, rather than serving as a means for the acquisition of isolated skills. Since technology is constantly changing, we teach students how to approach new technologies and to apply previously learned skills in their use.
Science – The science curriculum at The School in Rose Valley meets or exceeds national standards for science education. Weekly science classes for children from 5-Day Preschool and up combine teacher-led lessons, activities and experiences, and projects inspired by the children's interests and questions. Environmental science is a school-wide focus, including work undertaken in our greenhouse and organic garden, recycling and composting programs, animal care, and stewardship of the neighboring creek and other parks and preserves.
Spanish – Spanish is taught twice a week to children in Kindergarten and up. The 5-Day Preschoolers have Spanish weekly and the 3-Day preschoolers enjoy activities with the Spanish teacher about twice a month. A progressive approach is used to capture the interest of all learners and excite students about learning a second language. Music, movement, drama and games are used as learning tools across age levels. Older children are introduced to developmentally appropriate grammatical structures both verbally and in written work. The Spanish teacher also introduces all students to aspects of culture of various Spanish-speaking countries, and Spanish is integrated into the curriculum in Language Arts, Math, Art and Music.
Art – Art instruction and activities occur at The School in Rose Valley throughout the school on a daily basis, and art is a weekly class for children from Kindergarten and up. The art curriculum meets or exceeds national standards in art education. The program combines teacher-led lessons and projects in all media as well as art appreciation and history, and experiences inspired by children's interests and creative explorations. Our goal is to empower all students to enjoy art and to find personally appealing media and forms for creative self-expression.
Woodshop – Woodshop at The School in Rose Valley is a weekly class for children from 3-Day Preschool and up. Children are motivated to work and learn because they may build whatever they wish. They learn skills and gain self-confidence as they go. The teacher offers instruction, support and encouragement as needed and nurtures the qualities of creativity, independence and discipline.
Music – Music instruction at The School in Rose Valley is a weekly class for children from 3-Day Preschool and up. The music curriculum meets or exceeds national standards in music education. The program is designed to give all students the fundamental background they need to become serious musicians, if they choose, and to find joy in musical expression and reception. The program includes lots of singing. dancing, playing a variety of instruments, and music appreciation. In addition to regular music classes, there is a chorus, a recorder ensemble, and we hold regular all-school Sings.
Service Learning and Partnership – All students at The School in Rose Valley take part in Service Learning and Partnerships, which helps them learn how to be part of a community, how to be responsible citizens, and how to help make the world a better place. The program involves students in contributing to the community – the classroom community, the school community, the surrounding community, and the global community. Students also partner with children and adults from different backgrounds and learn to celebrate our cultural differences and our human unity.
Sports – Participation in free play occurs at The School in Rose Valley every day, and sports instruction is a weekly class for children from Kindergarten and up. For interested children there is also an organized game at the daily noon recess. Sports classes include instruction and participation in competitive and cooperative activities and games chosen by the teacher or the children. The focus of the sports program is on developing healthy habits, enjoying physical exercise, and learning to handle the emotional ups and downs of engaging in organized physical activities with peers.
Library – The School in Rose Valley has a beautiful and well stocked all-school library. Students from the 3-Day Preschool and up visit the school library at least twice a month to borrow books. Students and family members may also visit the library at other times during or after school. Library volunteers and teachers teach the students age-appropriate library, research, information literacy and study skills as needed and in the context of classroom assignments and projects. Visit About the Library [link to library page] for more information about the facility and program.
Choice and Recess – All full-day students at The School in Rose Valley have time to play outdoors at least twice a day, barring pouring rain or sub-zero temperatures. Depending on their age, students also have indoor choice time from daily to at least once or twice a week. Choice time and recess give the children opportunities to exercise their imaginations as well as their bodies. Students learn to make choices and to pursue their personal questions and interests.
Lunch – All full-day students eat the school-provided lunch family-style in their classrooms. The lunch program is considered to be part of the curriculum, engaging students in serving and clean-up responsibilities, sharing the same foods with classmates, learning to taste new foods, and lessons in nutrition and healthy living. We serve lunch after the mid-day recess, which allows the children to eat at a leisurely pace and to digest their meals properly.
Quiet Time – All full-day students at The School in Rose Valley take part in Quiet Time after lunch every day. The Quiet Time routine varies from classroom to classroom, but all students learn to recognize and take control of their natural rhythms and ebbs and flows of energy through the day. They learn how to take time to rest, relax and regroup.
Sing and Assemblies – Sharing music and gathering as a community are strong traditions and values at The School in Rose Valley. Wednesday morning Sings and Friday morning Assemblies see all of the children and teachers, and many parents, come together to sing. Children also share work, present plays and lead the community in games and special activities.
Mini Courses – A few times a year in six-week cycles, the Kindergarten and up students choose from a menu of "electives" called Mini Courses. Mini Courses provide opportunities for children to pursue activities that interest them. The Courses enable children to share interests and work together in multi-aged groups, teaching and learning from each other and the adults. Mini Courses also give teachers a chance to collaborate in new combinations and bring their own interests and passions to the school. Although most Mini Courses are led by teachers, some are led by students with teacher partners.
Events and Celebrations – At The School in Rose Valley we are committed to teaching a curriculum that is rich in cultural diversity, so we teach children about holidays, as well as about religions, religious practices, and beliefs from a variety of cultures. We make learning about holidays and religions active, engaging and meaningful without the commercialism. We also have our own special community celebrations that are educational, inclusive, and bring tradition, richness and ritual to the curriculum and the community. Some, such as Apple Day, foster respect for nature and the cycles of life. Others, such as Author's Teas, provide important opportunities for us to celebrate children's growth and accomplishments. The Bead Ceremony, perhaps SRV's most unique celebration, brings the whole community together to recognize children individually.