Principal - May/June 2021 - 43

What makes pre-K education
so important to future success
in school?
Birth to age 5 are critical years,
especially for brain development.
Research shows that positive
learning experiences during this
time can dramatically affect not only
future academic growth, but social
and emotional growth, as well.
Students in our pre-K program seem
more confident and ready to learn
when they enter kindergarten.

How do you use the arts to
integrate or effectuate the
other STEAM studies?
We realized that to creatively
integrate science, technology,
engineering, and math, the arts
are the natural glue that brings
them all together. We often use
a design-thinking framework to
solve problems, requiring students
to use empathy (drama), collect
and share ideas (reading, writing,
speaking, and listening), and build
or design a prototype (graphic
arts, sculpture, etc.).

" When peopl e
What is the mission you've
established for Rocky Ridge, and why
is that important?
We aim to create a learning environment
that's focused on building a community
of lifelong learners who are committed
problem-solvers and responsible
global citizens. When we work together
as a community (parents, students,
teachers, and local businesses), we can
dramatically improve the quality and joy
of education.

Why and how did you seek
out private funding to support
your school's goals?
Learning has meaning for us when
we can see how it applies to the
" real " world, so why not get the real
world involved? We continuously
reach out to our parents to help
make connections in the community.
We collaborate regularly with local
universities. If we hear of grants, we
try to apply for them. If you don't ask
or apply, nothing will happen.

see a penny, i t
i s a remi nder t o
i nt ent i onal l y not i ce
t hose around us. "

What have you done in order
to keep your goals on track
during the pandemic?
We have regular team meetings to
look at the data and plan next steps.
We also have teams that focus on
growing our positive culture and
climate, and we have weekly check-in
meetings to plan and support each
other. Last year, we started a house
system similar to [the] Ron Clark
[Academy] to create more of a family
environment. Our theme this year
was " Many Houses, One Family. "

P R I N C I PA L * M AY/ J U N E 2 0 21

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