Mission, Culture & Tone
The program of the School may be generally defined by four chief characteristics: educating the individual, close student-teacher relationships, active family participation in the school community and maintaining a strong connection to our island community.
Our educational philosophy based on individualization allows teachers to approach each child with his or her individual strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and interests in mind and make adjustments in instruction based on that information. In addition, teachers know students very well as people, not just as students in the classroom. We know when our students are thriving or struggling socially and emotionally as well as academically and spend as much time and energy in those realms as in academics.
The second characteristic, closely related to the first, is the close relationships between students and teachers. In order to teach the “whole child,” we do our best to present the “whole teacher.” Students are familiar with teachers as people and not just as instructors, and the bonds that are formed between children and adults in our school are extraordinary and atypical of most schools.
Active participation of families within the life of the school is our third characteristic. Parents are frequently present in the building throughout the school day and serve many roles. The school was founded as a parent cooperative and, until quite recently, parents assumed responsibility for many of the daily operational responsibilities. While the school has evolved and has become wholly self-sufficient in terms of daily operation, we still place a great deal of value on parent participation. Every teacher knows every parent by name, whether he or she has that person’s child in class or not. At our core, we are a family school.
A final characteristic is the connection between the school and the broader Nantucket community. As a small school on a small island, it is imperative for us to make deliberate connections to the island community and the world beyond Nantucket. We do this in two ways: through curriculum that is tied directly to the island’s history and/or diverse human and environmental resources, and through the participation/volunteerism/community service of our students on island.
In terms of tone, we are outwardly informal. Teachers and students refer to one another by first name. There is no official dress code. Classrooms are set up to provide a variety of settings for teaching and learning. There is no classroom in the school with desks in rows with the teacher at the front of the room, and instruction is multi-modal.
At the same time, our students are motivated and their parents place a high value on quality education. As a result, the work within the school is extremely purposeful and the results are of exceptional quality.