Salmonberry School is like a small village, and each classroom is a family. There are none of the trappings of large school bureaucracy – no GPA’s, no bells ringing, no lining up. There is an intimacy to life at Salmonberry that is quite extraordinary. Not to be sentimental, but there is a palpable quality of love and genuine care that is expressed freely between teachers and students. We are a school where hugs are definitely allowed!
Small Class Size
Salmonberry classes have averaged between 12 and 14 students with two teachers. Amazing things are possible when student:teacher ratios are this low. Teachers genuinely see each child. Teachers know their students’ favorite foods, their birthdays, their upcoming trips, and when their pet is ill. No one “flies under the radar” or “falls through the cracks” at Salmonberry. Teachers craft lessons and design curriculum and experiences to meet the needs of their individual students. The children are the impetus for learning objectives, not arbitrary age-tied standards. The difference is remarkable.
The three year age-span within each class adds to the family-like and authentic classroom culture. There is no illusion that everyone should be working on the same page in the same book. Students are seen and appreciated individually, with all their unique idiosyncrasies. Also the 3-year age span means that each child will have the same teacher for three years. This is an absolute game-changer in terms of allowing the teachers to deeply know each child, and for each child to quite literally fall in love with their teacher. Research shows again and again that multi-year teacher-student relationships supports increased success in school. Why would anyone think that a 9-month relationship is enough?
Quality of Relationship
Teachers at Salmonberry connect with families. This begins in early childhood with home visits each fall. Parents are valued collaborators and the triad of parent-teacher-child is cultivated throughout the learning journey. Teachers and students develop a deep sense of care and mutuality. Students call teachers by their first names and teachers share aspects of their lives with the children. Similarly, children bring their whole selves to school each day. There is a sense of intimacy that is tangible from the first warm greeting in the morning to the frequent good-bye hugs each afternoon. The relationships are the envelope that hold the students and allow them to take real risks with their learning.