Meet the Member - Phoenix School Salem
This rapidly changing world requires a different approach to education if the students of today are going to be successful adults in the future. In addition to a challenging academic curriculum designed to meet the needs of every child, the all-important 21st century skills of creative and critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, oral and written communication, and technology are integral parts of a Phoenix education. These are not new ideas to Phoenix. They have been part of our curriculum for 26 years. When your child walks through the door each day, you will know they are going to get the attention they need to meet the challenges they will face now and in the future.
Tell us a bit about you and what you do?
Phoenix is a school based on the principle that learning is everywhere and incorporated into everything we do. We trust that children are instinctual learners, and we value their leadership and partnership in their educational path. The school sets topics for exploration and encourages children to take on projects they are passionate about, while also focusing on the development of essential skill sets for success in their future world. Students are full partners in their own education, parents are integral partners in their child’s education, and every child is known and understood by their teachers. We educate and inspire students in a flexible, mixed-age environment that breaks the traditional walls between school, home, and the community. We offer an engaging learning environment and curriculum that encourages creative growth, tenacity, and citizenship. We are an experience-driven learning community that gives kids the tools, thoughts, and experiences that will help them become the best versions of themselves and fosters their development as contributors to society. At Phoenix, we emphasize process over product, implementing project-based learning through our curriculum to help students think critically, explore deeply, challenge themselves, contribute positively to their world, and learn more from their failures and celebrate their successes. Our core values are creativity, perseverance, citizenship, and empathy.
What part of your job would you consider creative, and why do you enjoy that part of what you do?
At Phoenix, we do school differently. Everything, from the space we inhabit to the places we learn, invites curious minds and dedicated learners to think big, create audaciously and build extensively. Our school building is conducive to the ever-changing needs of the students' ideas and projects. Phoenix is housed in a 5,000 square foot building in the heart of Salem, Massachusetts. Over the years our school has morphed from an empty space with bare-concrete floors to an ever-flexible school designed to be changeable depending on what the children and the curriculum call for.
The Phoenix home provides students with work and meeting spaces for each grade-band, as well as community meeting spots where we can all come together for an activity, a paint and construction paper-filled art space, an observation science equipment with magnifying glasses, microscopes and magnets space, a tech workshop space with real tools for kid use and filled with all kinds of items for students to build with their imagination, the whole school is one giant library, with bookshelves creating low walls that fashion learning spaces, including reading nooks, and a kitchen for community gatherings and lunch. Our space is so flexible that it allows for us to bring special equipment/tools in and out of our school for periods of time depending on the curriculum.
How does your creative work contribute to the growth and stability of the Creative Economy?
Connecting students in all grades with local and global partners in education and social change is an exciting and essential part of a Phoenix education. Only part of a Phoenix education takes place on school grounds. We are on the go to wherever there are interesting and useful bits of knowledge to add to our growing collection. We take some field trips by car, but we also take advantage of public transit and get around on our feet too. Our Upper School students experience one, farther afield, special Travel-Study Trip as part of their experience at Phoenix. The world is just as much a part of the Phoenix education as the school building and often has more to teach than can be learned by staying in one place. The world desperately needs passionate, self-directed learners who take on challenges with voracity. In response, Phoenix has always taken on a different model to education - one that puts the individual child in the in the center of the learning experience. Phoenix students exhibit the engagement and passion that are necessary to change the world. They’re guided to accept audacious behavior as the norm, contributing to a greater good as successful, happy, and healthy adults.
What’s your favorite part of running/managing a local business?
We are committed to being a school near the heart of the city, enabling us to use community resources and engage the students in global stewardship on a local scale. Phoenix kids are a staple part of the Salem scene, moving easily along its sidewalks to walk to the Common, the YMCA, the Peabody Essex Museum, City Hall, Hawthorne Hotel to attend Rotary meetings, and to participate in City events and celebrations. The Salem YMCA and local yoga studios are our places for mind-body wellness. The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Winter Island Park, and more, are our classrooms.
What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you our your business?
Our mixed age environment encourages empathy, play across age barriers, and deep friendships. At the heart of The Phoenix, the experience is the opportunity to bond with, teach, and learn from children of various ages and abilities. The low student-teacher ratio of 10:1 allows parallel learning across age groups, even within the same physical space. Strong friendships and collaborations exist at the school through structured moments like reading buddies, morning and afternoon meetings, daily park visits, mixed lunch tables, engineering challenges, and literature circles, and general curriculum where students are often taught in mixed grades bands to encourage leadership, and friendships develop because of our small community and intimate learning environment.
Creative Collective LLC fosters creative business opportunities and productive social engagements. As a collective of creative professionals, small businesses, organizations, and individuals we coordinate a series of events, traditional and non-traditional marketing initiatives, resources, and best practices to define why creativity matters in all aspects of life. Learn more here: creativecollectivema.com and #jointhecollective