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December/January 2010

High Meadows School
Real-Life Learning, Outside the Classroom
by Julie Edwards

As you ascend the winding, wooded driveway to High Meadows School, you are immediately aware that this is no ordinary campus— and no ordinary school.

A non-profit, co-educational and independent day school serving approximately 400 children from age 3 through 8th grade, High Meadows’ 40-acre campus sits in the rolling hills of Roswell. And since its founding in 1973, High Meadows has worked to create an ideal educational environment with influences that include internationally renowned educational methodologies.

In 2007, the school became an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, offering the Primary Years Programme (PYP), an international, transdisciplinary course of study designed to foster the development of the whole student, encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural aspects as well as academics.

“Our authorization as an IB school actually gave us a way to describe many of the long-standing beliefs and elements that comprise High Meadows’ approach to instruction and curriculum,” says Michelle Azzi, director of Marketing for High Meadows School. “The basis of an IB-PYP program allows students to explore their identity and place in the world, as well as how things work—it’s an inquiry-based approach that mirrors the High Meadows’ philosophy.”

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of High Meadows, however, is the ability for the teachers to take this inquiry-based approach outside the classroom and apply the curriculum in practical, real-life settings.

“We are not a typical ‘bricks and mortar’ school,” Azzi says. “Because of our location and the way our campus is structured, it’s a natural fit for our faculty to use the environment as a teaching tool.”

Middle-Years Math & Science teacher Kacie Darden enthusiastically supports using High Meadows’ abundant natural environment in her lessons by creating natural “labs.”

“Recently, I was teaching our students about buoyancy and, at the same time, they were reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in English class,” Darden says. “As part of their English assignment, the students recreated Huck’s adventures by gathering natural materials to create a raft and, when the rafts were complete, the students ‘tested’ the rafts as part of my class to see which ones floated best and why.”

Darden says that this cross-curriculum approach creates a solid connection between the coursework, helping students bring the various elements of what they are learning together in a cohesive fashion.

High Meadows also offers an Environmental Studies program to complement the school’s “outdoor classroom” approach. The program focuses on relating nature and environmental issues in a positive way and encourages student participation in community programs such as the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Junior Naturalists program.

As a school focused on building on the successes of the past while fashioning a better future, High Meadows School is secure in knowing it is making a difference in the world of its students and community. N A

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