Students at The College School never sit in class and wonder: “When will I use this in real life?”

At The College School, students learn by going off campus, collaborating with experts, and creating solutions to real-world problems. We don’t teach to the test, drill worksheets, or learn content just for the sake of doing so. Instead, students master physics by designing and building their own roller coasters or learn financial literacy by starting their own businesses.

Students explore the world through authentic experiences. Along the way, they are part of a close-knit community that allows them to be who they are and to use their voice. It’s no wonder students love coming to school.

“At The College School, I learned that caring about the environment is a lifelong task and one that is paramount. I learned that I have the agency to enact change no matter the barriers. I learned that it is important to stand up for your peers and care about those in your community.”

Grace Wagner, Class of 2015

This week’s #FacultyFriday spotlight is Third Grade Teacher, Matt Diller! Matt has been at TCS since 1993 and holds a BA in Elementary Ed from Harris Stowe State College and a MeD in Education with a concentration in Education for Sustainability from Antioch University New England. In addition to designing a place-, play-, and project-based experiential curriculum for TCS, Matt has mentored many student initiatives and school feasibility studies like “The River” on our playground, our wind turbine, our solar panels, and our giant climbable dragon. Matt has traveled extensively, including teaching in Japan and training for basic and advanced scuba diving in Thailand, Guam, and Mexico.>>What makes Third Grade at TCS special? Teaching at TCS is magical. Each day is an opportunity to empower young scholars to see the world as clay. We have the ability to make small positive changes in the world, and this is what makes us special. We lean into an ethic of helping others, sharing, creating, healing, caring, and loving.>>How did River City come to be? We are wired to learn through play, just like otters, pandas, and puppies. This understanding is key to leveraging universal play motifs for guaranteed engaging curriculum design. River City is a small world in a small patch of woods our students frequently visit to “learn by doing” in the great outdoors. As curriculum designers, working with colleagues, parents, students, and mentors like David Sobel--author of Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators--we saw a tapestry with so many threads of learning in reading, writing, science, engineering, visual arts, math, economics, geography, and social studies. River City came to be in my own childhood play, watching ants in peril of a stream of water flowing on a hot summer driveway. It came to be in my own childhood as we built forts and our own tiny towns in the woods. River City came to be inspired by childhood literature with maps and the joy of map-based storytelling and dreaming of adventures that might be. It came to be through a learning community--The College School--where teachers, students, and families are empowered to dream and make dreams come true.

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