We are a school that inspired by the Sudbury model and Classical education. We believe that students are able to learn independently. The Living Water School does academic instruction in the core subject areas in small groups (generally 1 to 5 students) in the areas of reading, writing, math, with project based learning in science and history. Reading is taught using phonics based instruction for early readers and reading with socratic dialogue of classic literature for all other reading groups. Writing is learned through students writing about their thoughts and opinions of the literature. Math is taught in a way where students can progress at the pace they are comfortable with and through one on one instruction. All students learn Latin until they graduate high school and this is also how they obtain their foreign language credit. In addition, all students complete an independent project that is presented on Friday of each week in the following 4 areas: science, history, technology, and a monthly book report/presentation. Outside of these, we seek to follow the Sudbury model as close as we can. With the support of staff, students flow throughout the day learning independently and following their personal interests.
Ages 2 to 6 are grouped together in our preschool program, that we call The Little Springs and those students that express a desire to leave the preschool program, are able to come into the regular school program as young as 4 years old. Ages 6 (unless a 4 year old is also in the school program) through 18 are mixed because we believe that younger children can learn well from an older peer. Staff are present to oversee the healthy interaction of all students.
The Living Water School has its own unique way of documenting students’ growth and academic progress. We do not use traditional grades, but parents are able to review their child’s portfolio of completed assignments and at the end of each semester parents are given the Student Review which is a form where each staff member gives input on their child’s spiritual, social and academic development.
We also do not have standardized testing, homework assignments, etc. Our goal is to completely take away those elements of traditional school that conjure up feelings of competition, fear, anxiety, insecurity and inadequacy. Our goal is to facilitate students to freely learn for themselves while they develop into the person that God created them to be.
For those students who would like to enter college, they are free to pursue study of the college prep courses and staff will support them. We will provide the materials, tutoring, SAT prep, etc. that the student requires to reach this goal, but the student has to request and/or initiate this process.
Many wonder how we organize our school day to be a combination of academic instruction and independent learning. We accomplish this by splitting the day in half, with the 1st half being devoted to learning in the classical tradition and the second half having freedom to pursue their interests and learning goals. We have found that ALL students want to learn and they do not have to be confined to a desk for 8 hours to have an amazing learning experience. They ALL have goals and ambitions. We as adults just have to be patient with them as they seek to discover who God created them to be and then we support that journey.
There are three ways in which students and staff work together to create a harmonious school community:
1. The School Meeting-This is a time during the week where the students and staff meet together to pray, worship, hear a word of inspiration, and to discuss school matters. The school community uses this time to vote in order to make decisions about the school program.
2. The Assembly-Three times a year the school community (students, staff, parents, and other supporters) meet together to discuss larger school matters, vote on various decision and to plan the overall structure of the school. Everyone who attends can vote on the yearly school program.
3. The Judicial Committee-The JC is made up of one staff member and several students. The JC meets once a day in order to address student and staff concerns, discipline issues, etc. They meet with those involved in the concern and vote to make a decision on how the issues should be addressed. The JC is the heart and soul of the school. This is the equivalent of being sent to the principal’s office, but in the true spirit of a democracy, they must meet “before a jury of their peers.” The JC helps to keep the order in the school community and it seeks to defend the right of each person in the school community to live in harmony during their educational journey at the Living Water School.