We are a school that follows the Sudbury/Democratic school model from a Christian perspective. Although we do not have formal grade levels in our school, in order for parents to understand our enrollment levels, we accept children in grades PreK 2 through 12th.
Instead of having formal classes/classrooms, The Living Water School does academic instruction in small groups (generally 1 to 5 students) mainly in the areas of reading, writing and math. In addition, all students complete an independent project that is presented on Friday of each week in the following 4 areas: science, history, a monthly book report/presentation and a project on any topic of interest. Students also, with the support of staff, flow throughout the day learning independently through play, socialization, and engagement in various activities and projects all around the school and school property. The only limits that are placed on their learning are the school rules (established by the students and staff of the school). They are not limited by age level or any person’s perception of their ability. If they want to learn it, then we encourage them to go for it. For example we have a 6th grader taking high school biology, but we also have a high schooler who never mastered his math facts, so he is getting private tutoring to fill that gap. This is something he requested.
Ages 2 to 6 are grouped together in our preschool program and those students that show emotional readiness are able to come into the regular school program as young as 4 years old. Ages 6 through 18 are mixed (with adult supervision) because we believe that younger children can learn well from an older peer. As stated, there is small group instruction for reading, math and writing. In addition there are optional classes for those who show an interest in other subject areas, (i.e. painting, crafts, computers, history, biology, martial arts, music, etc.).
Unless the student is transferring to a new school or going to college, there are no formal grades (A, B, C, etc.) , but parents are welcome to meet with staff to discuss their child’s educational experience as often as they wish.
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. If a desired college requires a transcript, then we will provide one, but the grades are only based upon if the student actually understands the subject matter. We place a great deal of responsibility on the student to design their learning path. We have found that ALL students want to learn. 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 once a 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 daily school program. The School Meeting is planned and run by students
2. The Assembly-This is a time once a quarter where the entire school community (students, staff, parents, and other supporters) meet together to discuss 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.