Each classroom is a community, connected by a sense of purpose, with a climate that is communicative, disciplined, and caring, with occasions for celebration. Teachers, administration, staff, parents, and students are all in the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills every day. We work hard to nurture a learning environment in which ALL members of the school feel secure in taking risks, asking questions, and exploring new alternatives.
The learning process is dynamic. Teachers balance a traditional approach to skill and knowledge acquisition with an inquiry-based model that recognizes the importance of students constructing knowledge and “learning by doing.” To support this guiding principle, class sizes are kept small so that students have maximum opportunities to interact with their teachers and one another.
So, how do we – students, parents, and educators – challenge ourselves to take risks, explore, and go beyond our current capabilities?
One of our hallmark approaches to learning, edgework ensures that we, as an entire community of learners, are continuously growing. Whenever we are on the edge – the edge of our capabilities, the edge of our knowledge, the edge of our confidence – we are in a place of potential growth. However, working on the edge is not an easy place to be. Edgework is choosing to stay on the edges, and even looking for the edges. Understanding where our edges lie, as individuals, leaders, and team members, takes insight requires work.
The “edge” symbolizes the balance of having foot well-grounded in current knowledge or understanding, while the other foot is well-positioned to take a risk, challenge an assumption, and try something new. Too far over the edge, and fear or lack of confidence can cause the learner to retreat to the familiar. Too far inside the edge, and the learner is no longer expanding his or her horizons. It’s all about the balance and it takes a talented faculty to facilitate these learning experiences. If we are not engaged in edgework, then we are not making a difference and we are not growing. It’s that simple. And that hard.
Revisit the STS Journey. You’ll note the outer ring embodies the higher level thinking skills in academics - applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. It also includes higher level skills in support of growth of character and spirit - exploring, reflecting, choosing, acting, and leading. The work that takes place in the outer ring represents edgework.
Edgework has a particular meaning for faculty. Like our students, we must also be “on the edge,” challenging ourselves, innovating, and taking risks. This spirit is alive and well among the faculty and staff at STS. We balance our traditional approaches with innovative ideas. We encourage one another to try something new. Some of our best programs are the result of someone’s edgework.
We encourage you to visit our website often – check out “Excellence in Action” and “Coffee with Kirk” to learn more about what’s on our minds.