FROM DIRECTOR TOM LITTLE
Welcome and thank you for visiting the Park Day School website. We have designed this site to provide an easy and convenient way for you to learn about our school. We also offer opportunities for you to delve more deeply into our philosophy, programs, and the nature of progressive education.
I have spent more than thirty years as a teacher and administrator at Park Day School and my own children went through the school. From this close proximity, I can truly appreciate and extol the extraordinary commitment of our teachers and administrators to the children of our school. They are the heart of our program.
As a progressive school, we believe that it is essential to foster in our students the belief that an individual can make a difference in the world. We believe that our students must begin to understand the reality of injustices that exist in their world as appropriate to their age.
Woven throughout our curriculum are examples of local and global issues that highlight the inequities that exist in our society and the people who are trying to improve those conditions. A kindergartener may notice that a classmate needs a friend, a fourth grader might defend a classmate from teasing, or an eighth grader might march in an anti-poverty demonstration—in each instance, there is a basis for discussion and learning.
Whether collecting thousands of books for Oakland public school teachers, mounting an anti-bullying campaign with our neighbors at Emerson School, or presenting to classmates a report on what constitutes a living wage, our students bring the spirit of agency and the conviction that their actions can create positive change.
We believe in the importance of social and emotional intelligence as well as academic intelligence. Look in any classroom and you will see students resolving conflicts together, making agreements about how they will treat one another, and building communities of peace, empathy and inclusiveness. Classrooms are happy places and when problems come up, as they will with young children, there are systems and mechanisms for grappling with even the toughest issues. In 7th & 8th grades, advisory and Town Meeting are places where the community of young adolescent students gather for this purpose. Parents can trust that this is a school where their children can find their voice and experience first-hand the power of sharing good ideas and building good fellowship.
Our academic program is driven by our enduring respect for children as thinkers and explorers, imaginative writers, curious scientists and mathematicians, who posses great ideas and theories about their world. Rather than relying on standardized testing or normative standards, we believe that intellectual vigor arises from a program focused on learning for deep understanding.
When a fifth grader for example, is grappling with the dynamic between Roanoke Native society and Early Settlers in the seventeenth century, they read from history and from historical fiction, they create maps and dioramas, they write about it in stories and in plays, and act these plays out for one another. The children are asked to present their story from another’s perspective. In our view, these activities far out distance the memorization of names and dates in American history; it is the context, the relationships, the lessons learned that they remember.
Role-playing the residents of a town facing an environmental crisis and having to present scientific data as a basis for their concern is another example that has more meaning to a seventh grader than memorizing the periodic table. Dates, charts and tables will become important to students as they pursue their interests in various disciplines, but we are convinced that the experience as a learner in an engaging and age appropriate curriculum will provide the internal motivation necessary to achieve academic success and, as importantly, to love investigation, discussion and inquiry.
Students at Park Day School bring heart and passion to our campus every day. For adults and children alike, it is a wonderful place to work and play. We invite you to join us in this exciting endeavor. Please explore our website, visit us or contact us with your questions. We will be happy to make your acquaintance.