Success for Every Child
The Drinking Gourd Elementary School is a private, non-profit, non-religious, alternative school which offers education for children ages 5-11.
Small Class Size & Challenging Academics
The school maintains a low student-to-teacher ratio (12 to 1 in the younger class; 15 to 1 in the older class) to make it possible for the teachers to gain an in-depth understanding of each student.
Each child has an academic program created expressly for that student. Informal assessment happens daily as the teacher works 1-on-1 and in small groups with every student. In all areas, students are moved ahead as quickly as their progress allows.
Most students achieve advanced levels of academic achievement through their years at the Drinking Gourd. Expectations are set at a high level for each child, and advanced placement is made to ensure that every child is working at a challenging level. Also, students are not moved forward until current concepts have been mastered, ensuring that the work required of them can be successfully accomplished and concepts will be thoroughly learned. Extra lessons, practice activities and alternate modes of learning are designed as specific children require them to succeed.
A spread of ages in each class allows students to work at their unique levels in all areas without reference to artificial age standards. In each class children work on their own level in each academic area.
Individualized programs allow the teachers the flexibility to teach each student at the correct level for that student. The students do not expect everyone to be doing the same work, so the stigmas of being “behind” or “too smart” do not exist. Ungraded classes also help the students see themselves as a whole friendship-group. They do not separate by age on the playground or when choosing friends.
A Culture of Caring and Encouragement
An important focus of the Drinking Gourd School is to create a supportive community where children are free to be themselves and learn. Social skills are taught through direct lessons as well as daily practice during natural situations. These skills (conflict resolution, active listening, turn-taking rituals, empathy, consensus decision making, group facilitation, and anti-bias attitudes) help to create a school culture of caring and mutual encouragement.
Each child knows that they are a significant and cared-about member of the group. Everyone is included in games. Everyone is cheered for their accomplishments. This atmosphere inspires levels of academic and emotional growth far greater than those motivated by grades.
Our school is a place of hope where students and teachers gain experience in the kind of society we could live in; a place where students learn the academic, social and critical thinking skills needed to make this kind of society a possibility.