As a native Prescottonian, parent and school administrator, I know school choice makes Prescott an ideal home for families. Not any one school can provide the needs of all children, whether it be a school district, a publicly funded charter school or a private school. We are no longer living in a society where educational one-size-fits-all works for our children. In Prescott, parents have multiple options for their children, from kindergarten through high school, and Skyview School is one of those choices.
As a kindergarten through 8th grade elementary school, Skyview was designed with Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory in mind. He believed a child’s learning is not based solely in the logical, mathematical or language arts, but also in how she interacts with nature, how she responds to music and art, and most importantly, her emotional intelligences: how she sees herself as well as those around her. All these sources of intelligence inform her ability to solve problems and offer creative responses to her cultural needs. In other words, intelligence is a dynamic process where learning is actively using more than one area of the brain. Needless to say, this kind of holistic learning extends far beyond what can be measured only by academic testing! When a curriculum is designed to include these different intelligences, it is more likely to meet not only different learners in the classroom, but each learner will experience a more holistic, well-rounded lesson.
Multi-age classrooms are another aspect of how Skyview does things a little differently. Except for kindergarten, each level is comprised of two grades; for instance, Primary combines first and second graders, Intermediate 3-4 combines third and fourth graders, Intermediate 5-6 combines fifth and sixth graders, and our Middle School combines seventh and eighth graders. This allows the school to meet the different academic levels of individual students in a gentle way. If a third grader is above his grade level in language arts, for instance, he can be challenged right there in the classroom! However, if a second grader needs a little refresher on first grade skills, she may do so without any social stigma or anxiety as those skills are woven into the essentially two-year curriculum.
Skyview School also believes that children need to be active participants in the world around them. Starting in kindergarten, field trips are an integral part of the annual schedule. The little ones start with walking field trips to the library or, if they are learning about their community, they might visit the local fire department. Beginning with third grade, field trips become more involved and overnight trips are planned. These trips not only help to support the subjects being taught; they also provide opportunities for students to experience their peers outside of the school setting. Social skills are strengthened, and a sense of classroom community is built.
Finally, this sense of community becomes a profound and ingrained message to our students as they grow through the grades and eventually graduate into high school. By eighth grade, they have learned that they are essential members of not only their school community, but of the greater world outside. A Skyview School student knows he has a responsibility to his fellow human beings: to be kind and respectful, regardless of race or religion. Students also develop a love and respect of the natural environment, knowing our world is a finite place that needs to be protected.
As our mission states, Skyview School strives to “enrich the lives of students and to ensure that future generations are well prepared to live their lives with meaning, dignity and the ability to work together for a better world. We want to create life-long learners; students who are actively engaged in their learning as well as their community, both in school and in the greater world around them. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” QCBN
By Dianne Jacobson
Dianne Jacobson is the operations manager at Skyview School.