King-Murphy educators presented the school’s case for change — a way to transform how concepts are taught to make them more experiential — and asked parents for help.
Educators met with about 50 families during the school’s community night to ask for support and ideas, and to encourage parents to be actively involved and lend their expertise to project development.
“The community deserves the best teaching and learning,” instructional coach Lisa Cassidy told a group of parents on Feb. 10. “We are exploring expeditionary learning, and it’s going fabulously. We want to partner with you to create relevant learning. … It does take a village for change to happen.”
Children love being at King-Murphy, and parents are vested in their children’s education, second grade teacher Alicia Needham said. Families, staff and students said they valued experiential learning, and while pockets of those projects were happening in the school, educators were moving toward “predictable, sustainable learning with focus on experiences.”
The school, which dropped the International Baccalaureate curriculum a few years ago, is moving to EL — expeditionary learning — with teachers piloting units at all grade levels, interim principal Sandy Craig said.
Moving to EL is based on surveys and focus groups conducted in the fall where the school learned stakeholders want rigorous, consistent instruction and learning; relevant, real-world, authentic experiences; student-driven learning; and learning that demonstrates social consciousness and awareness.
Part of the school’s change is to help increase enrollment. King-Murphy has lost enrollment since 2016, with enrollment for the 2021-22 school year at 129 for the kindergarten-sixth-grade school. The lower enrollment forced the school to combine its fifth and sixth grade classes.
Craig said the magic enrollment number was about 250 with up to two classrooms at each grade level.
Cassidy explained that students were loving the shift to outdoor classrooms and hands-on experiences, and at the beginning of the school year, the entire school tried a new activity: students and staff went to Elk Meadow to start schoolwide community building.