By Roslyn Benjamin, Head of School
The mission of The Children’s School is to enrich minds and inspire dreams.
We are a highly engaged, compassionate, courageous and diverse community of student and adult learners. In keeping with the progressive vision of our founder, Lila McDill, we honor every member of this community as their authentic self. We embrace play in everything we do because it is essential to the intellectual, social, emotional, physical and cultural development of our young children and young adults. Our joyful and nurturing campus in the heart of Midtown Atlanta supports students to take risks and challenges them to make a positive impact on our ever-changing world.
Our mission statement gives you a sense of who we are and what’s important to us. It serves as our North Star and the “why” for our entire community. One word in particular in the statement stands out for me, and that is the word “community” because it is the heart of who we are.
We often talk about the notion of community, and how members share similar values, beliefs and principles. Words – such as belonging, relationships, diversity, togetherness, people and support – are at the core of many communities and, in particular, The Children’s School community. We practice these principles with our students, our faculty and staff, and our parents.
At TCS, there are three critical parts that animate our community: diversity, equity, inclusion and justice; nurture and challenge; and childhood, play and joyful learning. We know these are the best ways to help children develop into their intellectual, social-emotional, physical, and cultural best selves and to create adults who know themselves well and who will make an impact on the greater world. Each of these parts show up differently, depending on which grade-level our students are in at TCS.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice is understanding our identities as well as those of others. It’s the emergence of a person’s authentic self, and ultimately, it’s feeling like a part of a community. For our youngest learners, this means talking about who I am, what makes a family, and fairness. For our oldest learners, it shows up as justice and anti-bias work, advocacy, navigating conflict, and how to make an impact in the world.
Challenge within a Nurturing Environment
At TCS, we strike an important balance between nurture and challenge. This means pushing each student to reach their academic, creative and social-emotional potential while providing support when they need it. We differentiate instruction so that each student is allowed to work at their developmental pace and grow in the ways that feel best for them.
Our youngest learners begin to understand their unique learning profile. How do I read? How do I engage? How do I act within a classroom? For our oldest learners, nurture and challenge is academic rigor and preparing them for high school and beyond. As a parent of a TCS alum, I’m impressed with my son’s transition from his progressive schools – both here and in San Francisco – to a more traditional high school. At the end of their freshman year, Michael and two of his TCS former classmates made their high school’s academic honor roll. He was definitely prepared to succeed in high school and beyond.
Childhood, play, and joyful learning make the learning experience fun. When I was growing up, I was a child who did all of my homework, but it often felt like busy work to me. I did all of the things: I took the tests and wrote the essays, but there were times that I didn’t really understand why I was learning it and how I was going to use it later in life.
At TCS, learning can be serious – and it should be. It should also be “hard fun” with joyful elements so our students want to dig deeper into content that they can connect with to show their learning in multiple ways. This is how our students KNOW information rather than just understand it.
Building Character and Community (BCC)
We also talk a lot about our character education program, “Building Character and Community” (BCC). I call this our “secret sauce” because it’s what makes us different from other schools. In many of my communications, I reference our BCC program, most notably our need to care for others within our community.
The notion of caring is at the heart and soul of TCS. Families mention this as one of the ways in which we create good kids who can easily matriculate into high school. Our graduates are academically and social-emotionally prepared to adjust to a new school. They show kindness to others and know how to advocate for themselves. These are the skills they learn while studying our monthly BCC traits and these are the skills they take to high school and beyond.
The Power of the TCS Community
As we live with COVID, I’m excited to continue to move toward normal, for our children to experience TCS to its fullest with outdoor education trips, field trips, a big/little buddy program, Extended Day extracurricular activities, and for families to come onto campus and into classrooms to be a part of your child’s learning experience.
COVID has certainly tested our strength and resilience as a nation and also as a TCS community, but it has not weakened our resolve to uphold our mission statement – our North Star – to “enrich minds and inspire dreams.” It is the power of our community and our sense of belonging that brings us together through our shared values of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice; nurture and challenge; and childhood, play and joyful learning.