The AHB Experience

Mixed-Age Classes

Our Elementary School is comprised of three mixed age classrooms, each with two teachers. Generally students spend two years in each classroom, with the benefit of gaining mastery over their classroom environment and having the same pair of teachers for two years in a row.

Our progressive Middle School combines 6th, 7th and 8th graders in a separate wing of the school with two to three teachers of their own.

  • Alpha Class: Kinder – 1st grade
  • Beta Class: 2nd & 3rd grade
  • Gamma Class: 4th & 5th grade
  • Middle School: 6th, 7th & 8th grade

All grade levels are equivalent, as our program promotion is dependent on mastery of our Academic Continua objectives and allows flexibility for a student to spend more or less time in a class when appropriate and/or work outside the bounds of their age-assigned grade level.

Co-Teachers and Low Student Teacher Ratio

Having two teachers in each classroom and a low 11-1 student teacher ratio is the key to our multi-age classrooms. Generally, morning instruction is dedicated to language arts and math. In these areas, where skill levels are more delineated, teachers split the large class into smaller cohorts depending on their skill level, and work with the groups independently. Afternoon instruction generally focuses around Theme time, where the entire mixed-age group works together with both teachers on learning projects within a social studies or science topic. Social-emotional learning times, like class meetings, community circles, lunch and recess also afford plenty of time for the mix of ages to play and learn together.

Having two teachers in each classroom and low student-teacher ratio means more time for focused teacher attention.

Condensed Schedule = Part Time School Hours, Full Time Learning

Our private school is a great match for families seeking a balance between family life and school. Our condensed academic schedule allows students ample time to attain knowledge, seek adventure, and develop relationships both in the school community and beyond. We accomplish a lot of learning during school hours, but we also value what happens off campus and believe children should have plenty of time for family, play and rest! At AHB, we believe you can have full time learning at a part time school.

Our part time schedule means less days in school AND less school hours each day. Our core, instructional day runs 9 am – 2:30 pm.  We promote age-appropriate expectations for stamina and scaffold our program so that as children grow, so does the number of days spent in school.

Required Core Days / Optional Lab Days
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri
Alpha
(grades K-1)
Optional
Lab Day
Core Core Core
Beta
(grades 2-3)
Core Core Core Core
Gamma
(grades 4-5)
Core Core Core Core
Middle School
(grades 6-8)
Core Core Core Core Optional
Lab Day

 

We get a lot done in a short amount of time

Our teachers, free from the burden of mandated testing and grades, can exercise autonomy and flexibility in designing curriculum to meet the needs and interests of each class, each year, and the low student teacher ratio means students receive the support they need to master objectives.

Additionally, our hands-on curriculum combined with a shortened day that respects children’s natural stamina means students stay engaged and on-task throughout the school day. Very little time is lost to transitions or classroom management issues, leaving maximum time for learning at AHB!

A condensed academic schedule leaves plenty of time for play.

Social-Emotional Learning alongside Academic Rigor

At AHB, we really do believe that we offer the best of both worlds! Our progressive model offers an academically rich program designed to challenge students in a supportive, nurturing environment. Basically, our goal is rigor without the stress!

At both elementary and middle school levels that begins with putting students and their social-emotional needs at the center of our decision making and teaching them to be good people and community members first and foremost.

Alphas create their Classroom Agreements together before signing with their handprints.

 

Prioritizing social-emotional needs takes time. Our two-teacher classrooms and the teacher’s autonomy are key factors in making this a reality. Teachers can slow down and take the time necessary to build a positive classroom community where students feel safe and confident enough to take risks in the name of learning and growth, and where kindness, respect, and inclusion are actively coached as the campus norms.

Middle Schoolers create and perform original skits for the elementary students demonstrating positive school behaviors.

Academically, we define rigor as the ability to think critically and creatively to ask questions and solve problems. We do a lot of skill building each year as we follow the objectives laid out in our Academic Continua in Math, Reading and Writing, but ultimately, AHB’s progressive school model gives students plenty of opportunities for real-world inquiry and problem solving that encourages them to be lifelong learners!

Thematic, Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Theme is glue that holds the AHB magic together! At our private school, “Theme” is both a subject / class period, as in, “After lunch it’s time for Theme,” and a quarterly unit of study that directs a class’s learning, and shows up not only in “Theme” time, but may also be woven into language arts and math instruction. For example, if the Alpha’s quarterly theme is the ocean, on any given day they might read a story or write about a narwhal in language arts, look at patterns of symmetry on a sea creature during math, and then do a science experiment (and art project) demonstrating ocean waves during “Theme” time.

In their study of the ocean, Alpha students make art to demonstrate how wind moves water and creates waves.

As a subject / class period, Theme is where we bring science and social studies into our curriculum. Classes generally rotate a science versus social studies topic each quarter. While our curriculum for math, reading and writing is consistently focused around achieving set skill objectives from our Academic Continua, our exploration of science and social studies at AHB is much more fluid.

While studying Antarctica, Beta students conduct science experiments to better understand greenhouse gasses and glacial melting.

Themes change from year to year, and teachers have flexibility to respond to student interests and current events when choosing topics. In Theme, depth is more important than breadth, and process is more important than content. It is a time to stimulate a child’s curiosity and teach them how to learn, observe, research, problem solve, communicate and collaborate! When you walk through our building in the afternoon during Theme block, you are likely to see active classrooms filled with children collaborating and creating!

Gamma students demonstrate their learning about cell structures and processes.

 

Sample Themes 2021-22
Alpha Class (Kinder – 1st) Middle School (6th-8th)
Quarter 1 What’s Inside Me
(Human Body)
French Revolution
Quarter 2 What’s Around Me
(US Regions & Early Inhabitants)
Cell Division & Genetics
Quarter 3 Water, Water Everywhere Russian Revolution
Quarter 4 World Geography Chemical Bonds & Reactions

 

Middle School students create living vignettes to portray important historical events during the French Revolution.

 

Focus on Community = School + Family + Wider World

At AHB, community takes on many layers and dimensions. There is the classroom community that teachers carefully craft for optimum social emotional learning. There is also the campus community, where our culture of kindness and respect shines through when observing the way big and little kids interact, or the way staff members and students communicate with one another. Then of course there is the important partnership between the school and the family! Parent input and participation is highly valued, and parental presence is welcome and common on campus.

Middle Schoolers pair with Alpha buddies when we walk to our neighborhood park for a monthly lunch together.

Many AHB families forge bonds of friendship that last far beyond the Elementary and Middle School years. From our monthly Shipe Park Day, where the whole school plus a good smattering of parents walk to a neighborhood park to eat lunch and play together, to annual family-inclusive events like Winter Faire or Around the World Day, our private school offers ample opportunities to gather as a community and celebrate.

At Winter Faire students and parents make, bake, sell and shop to celebrate while raising funds for our school.

Our circles of community continue to stretch beyond these spheres! With family and school firmly at the center of a child’s life, children can then look confidently out to the wider world to see how they fit in and how they can be of service. Our curriculum teaches our students to look for connection and understanding among people and cultures and to make compassionate, responsible choices to care for one another and the planet. As we develop into global citizens, we seek out opportunities to be of service where we can and to be advocates for a better community and world.

After learning about water scarcity, Beta students raise money to help build wells in Africa by making and selling Zulu-inspired bracelets.

There are so many things that make the AHB experience a magical place for children to spend their elementary and middle school years. Join a tour to come see the campus for yourself!