A Better Way to Learn
The Willow School is intentionally designed to educate children the way they learn best. There’s no such thing as “busy work” at Willow. Here you’ll find an intellectual and ethical purpose behind every academic subject and school days filled with meaningful activity and experiential learning opportunities that connect with the real world.
Our motivation is to inspire students to learn how to learn and appreciate the trial-and-error approach, arriving at conclusions under the guidance of Willow’s experienced teachers. Classes at Willow are smaller than most schools, so faculty can customize curriculum and give students the freedom to dive deeply into a subject from multiple perspectives. The result: Willow students are engaged learners who can translate complex ideas and apply them to life outside the classroom.
Here’s What’s Different at Willow:
From age 3 to Grade 8, Willow students learn by doing. They are presented with authentic and meaningful experiences and are encouraged to use their natural curiosity to lead the inquiry, think critically, make connections, test out ideas, reflect, and effectively communicate with others. Experiential learning at Willow is joyful, hands-on, and relevant to children’s lives. This way of learning empowers every student to be more curious, tackle the challenges they face, engage in their education, and take responsibility for themselves and their world.
Student Centered Learning:
At Willow, we recognize that all children have unique learning styles. That’s why our progressive educational approach places children at the center of their own education. Our experienced teachers provide the tools and knowledge to empower students to work at their own pace, nurture their curiosities, and develop new ideas. Our lessons are formatted to maximize unique talents giving children a sense of achievement and joy of learning.
Systems Thinking is one of the most effective ways to help students understand a complex world and empower them to create positive change. At its simplest level, Systems Thinking teaches us that everything is interconnected and interdependent. This emphasis helps children understand cause and effect, nurtures curiosity, deepens self-discovery, and develops key skills like critical thinking, communication, observation, and analysis. It helps children discover lasting solutions to difficult real-world problems.
Willow’s unique Virtues Program is embedded in everything we do. Using the ancient Aristotelian cardinal virtues and the work of Mary Beth Klee as guides, our community focuses on one key virtue a month. Virtues like respect, responsibility, gratitude, service, honesty, courage, perseverance, justice, and joy are taught through our twice-weekly Community Gatherings, our middle school Advisory Program, and classroom discussions. These virtues are modeled and practiced daily by students and their peers, as well as faculty, administrators, and staff. School traditions, like Harvest Soup and our annual Earth Day celebration, as well as service-learning projects, also grow out of Willow’s Virtues Program.
Since our founding more than 20 years ago, learning in and from nature has been a central part of the curriculum. Students explore their way to answers within our 34-acre learning laboratory. They use our streams for scientific investigation, our woods to study native plant growth, and our LEED-certified buildings for math exercises like graphing and statistical predictions for energy consumption. Outdoor learning is another way to make learning relevant to students’ lives, immersing them in the unique history, environment, culture, and art of our area and region. With an emphasis on experiencing the joy and wonder of nature and the importance of sustainability, students are taught to put virtues like gratitude, responsibility, and stewardship into practice in their relationship to our earth.