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Focus Stories

One School of the Arts

by Kevin Fritz

Featured Photo from One School of the Arts

Parents who want Longwood’s One School of the Arts to be part of their children’s educational future take notice: open enrollment begins Tuesday, January 2, 2018. The private Christian school has gained a loyal following in five short years, employing advanced educational theories backed by solid research in its progressive curriculum centered on the arts.

“It’s all about giving our students the tools they need to be successful,” says Kristen Campbell, the founder and head of school. “We need to prepare children for the 21st century. It’s a different type of educational environment.”

Megan Huckabee, executive assistant and communications coordinator, says alternative learning methods at One School of the Arts range from whole-brain teaching to the rebranding of students as scholars and teachers as team members. Here, it’s called questing, not testing. Younger students sit on yoga balls, scrapping the old desk and chair design of the past.

The key, though, is the arts, whether visual, musical, or digital. Creativity is king at One School of the Arts.

“Creativity is just as important as literacy,” says Kristen, quoting Sir Ken Robinson, a British educational advisor. “Ours is not a traditional curriculum, but one based on innovation, creativity, and collaboration.Traditional education is based on the needs of an industrial society.”

The One School’s small campus is home to 500 scholars ranging from early childhood to 12th grade, 70 team members, and two therapy dogs. It’s abuzz daily with simultaneous lessons in dance, cooking, rock n’ roll, photography, theater, and chorus. Expression here is encouraged. It’s like a mini talent show.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games – kids are taught math, science, English, and history, but it’s the way subjects are presented that boosts retention and draws interest. The school’s STEAM labs integrate science, technology, engineering, art, and math, but not in isolation. Scholars learn how each interacts with the other. The curriculum also includes journalism, sound and audio design, chess, and Bible study. Chinese is taught to students as young as two in an effort to prepare scholars for the real world.

Beyond the curriculum, there is a definite sense of belonging at One School of the Arts. Judgements are left at the door. Social skills and relationships are developed in person, not through social media. There is a feeling of excitement in the air, and everyone seems to be smiling.

“Art is a way of life,” says Kristen, “a life of being fully alive – and we’re just getting started.”

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