When we were in West Virginia this past summer, Cathy and I did a significant amount of cleaning. Our cabin had been shuttered for nearly four months, with only occasional weekend getaway use by one of our children. As many of us do, with the tedium of the task at hand, my mind began to wander, eventually settling in on the intricacy and variety of the spider webs lacing the wood work under the backyard deck. In the process of clearing them, I started to notice that the strength of the web did not appear to be solely a component of the silken threads, but relied heavily on its design. When I broke a single strand of the web with my broom, it actually appeared to become stronger rather than weaken. I imagined this engineered web quality allowed spiders to repair the web, while still being able to capture prey for sustenance.
I believe AVS has many qualities similar to those of a spider’s web. Founded in 2010 on the strength of a few intrepid families that believed there was a better way for children to learn, we set out to build a curriculum, engineered to support each aspect of the learning process. It’s based on the idea that children are far more capable than many schools have acknowledged, and that the best way to learn is through the experience of doing. Like a spider’s web, the curriculum is intricately connected and supportive of the process, and of our students. A spider’s web is unique to the species, and so the Alta Vista curriculum and manner of teaching is unique to our school.
Like a spider’s web, each strand of our spiraling, interconnected curriculum supports the other strands, but yet is able to support itself by engaging students in the process of understanding. The phrase, “the Alta Vista Way,” has become the beacon guiding further development and implementation of our approach. With an innovative and creative faculty leading and supporting the learning process, our young school is creating a strong foundation for students to grow in ability, and into the boundless possibilities of the future.
When we started the school, a substrate of support was built to carry the load of growth. Year after year more families joined the school making it the wonderful place it is today, but stressing our foundation.
We now find ourselves at the angle of repose for the needs of our school. The growth rate of AVS has stressed our initial foundation, and we need others to step up in support. Much like the placement of a spider’s silken threads in the design of their web provides strength, support for our Middle School building and development project provides us with a broader base to grow from and lessen the probability of regression.
I have made AVS the focus of all my energies since its founding. I believe that with our faculty and parent community we have built an outstanding school. Now is the time to ensure that our school will continue to provide opportunities for our current students and for the generation of students to follow. The focus for the next few years is our growth into the Middle School and to continue the process of constant improvement in the Lower School, and thus leave a legacy of progressive, experience based education into the future.