Dear Children's School Families,
Above are words said by our former Head of School Margaret White Campbell, whose message hangs within my office and whose vision serves as inspiration for my work every day. Our purpose and mission – as educators – is to facilitate experiences through which students can be curious, question, and explore, and in turn, learn both about themselves and the world around them. This is a continuous process; the epitome of lifelong learning.
In 2018, as I headed out west to obtain my second master's degree and later assume the role of Children’s School director in Colorado Springs, I left behind a neighborhood of east-coast independent schools still – decades later – seeking to deliver a place-based learning environment for students like that offered by our very first Head of School and today at CSS. Many have heard me say that these experiences are “in the bones” of CSS, and to me, this is pretty special!
The Children’s School is in the process of preparing for its annual Colorado Expedition (COEX) this May. COEX aims to deliver developmentally appropriate experiences that follow a predictable pattern of growth and change to immerse students in the academic curriculum in ways that stimulate enhanced thinking and learning. As students advance through each grade level, they explore a theme of study centered around the early cultures of Colorado State in conjunction with their classroom learning. Below you will find a list of this year’s destinations:
PreKindergarten: May 20 - Exploring the CSS Campus (morning only)
Kindergarten: May 19–20 - Cheyenne Mountain Zoo & Starsmore, plus overnight in the classroom
First Grade: May 19–20 - Overnight at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Second Grade: May 12–13 - Overnight at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp
Third Grade: May 11–13 - Overnight at La Junta
Fourth Grade: May 3–6 - Overnight at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Fifth Grade: May 3–6 - Overnight at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
These programs would be impossible without the support of our Parent Education Leaders (PELs) along with teachers, whom I’d like to personally thank for their time, effort, and support. Last week, our PELs attended a formal training, which was followed by grade-level parent meetings that relayed the details of our trips. When our children get out “on the trail” and engage in unique experiences based in new environments, true magic can happen!
COEX generates opportunities for students to explore grade-specific themes in a hands-on manner by making observations, asking questions, and investigating. Many of our place-based COEX lessons are further enriched by the implementation of overnight experiences during which students are nourished and encouraged to venture outside their comfort zones. From sleeping overnight in the classroom as Kindergarteners to spending the night hours away from home in 4th- and 5th grade, Children's School students are transformed. This quest for childhood independence is fostered throughout students’ time in the Children’s School division and beyond and reinforces our commitment to helping them navigate and learn about the world around them. Over time, students develop self-care skills, respect for their natural environment, and empathy toward others.
The latter goal, in the context of COEX, is known as “expedition behavior” – the idea of embracing a mindset of “we” and not “me.” Students are encouraged to ask questions such as, “How can I best help the group?”; “What needs to be done to set up and take down camp?”; “How can I help a friend who is struggling with missing home?” For some students, interpersonal skills can come easily. Whereas, for others, the learning curve can be steeper. The end result, however, is tremendous.
I cannot wait to hear their stories and witness our students’ growth as they tackle this important milestone. How about you?