|La Paz Primary School|
The La Paz Community School Primary School (Grades k-6) experience focuses on actively involving students with the local community and environment in order to offer experiential, place-based education. Many times, however, a school day involves learning and experiential projects within the school facilities. Many people ask, what does a typical day at La Paz look like? Below is a description with student commentary on “A Day in the Life of La Paz”. To familiarize yourself with a day at La Paz please click on the link below that interests you.
La Paz students begin each morning at grade level with a 30 minute mind and body warm-up for the day. Each student has his/her own responsibility for the day which depends on grade level and teacher. For example: One student may be chef for the day where they have to bring in food that they prepared at home, while another student may be a naturalist where they share something that they learned about the natural world either at home or at school.
“Every morning in our first period at school, my class has a Jump Start meeting. Each of us is assigned a job; there is a leader, the one who organizes the meeting. Also, other jobs are the riddler, the poet, anthropologist, linguist, etymologist, news anchor, and fun facts.” Mekaila Grade 9
While Jumpstart is meant to warm up the mind and body, Community Meeting is a time when all La Paz students, teachers, parents, and community members join together to warm up the spirit for the day. The entire school meets for 15-20 minutes in a large circle under the cover of the palapa. They first sit silently following the ringing of the ceremonial peace bells by one of the students. They then share learning experiences from the past, present, and future through song, dance, drama, art, or basic speech. The peace and quiet combined with the community feel enjoyed by all is a powerful tool to teach students the value of patience and reflection that is invaluable in a world that is growing at an exponential pace.
“If it’s hot or cold, rainy or sunny, we walk to a place where you can share something funny. We can talk about what we like and hear about a class that went on a hike. Is kindergarten singing a song? Will it be long? Well, that’s okay, we have can take all day. Morning Meeting is the best and that’s all I have to say.” Maxine Grade 5
“My favorite time of day at La Paz is the Community Meeting. It is a time when our whole school comes together to share, welcome visitors, sing happy birthday and smash an egg on the birthday student” –Nicole Grade 5
“I like playing in PE because you stretch and play different kinds of tag, but what I like most is the silence in the Palapa” Felipe Grade 3
“My favorite time of day at La Paz is the palapa because it makes me fell like I am with all my friends and all my teachers and all that make me feel nice” Melanie Grade 1
“My favorite time of day at La Paz is when we go to the Palapa because every class shares a song or something that they study” Valery Grade 2
La Paz core subjects include Math, Science, English Language Arts, Spanish Language Arts, Social Studies with PE, Art, Dance, and Drama as co-curricular activities. There are six “foci” of 50 minutes each during the day. Beginning in grade 5 Science and math combine focuses several times per week to allow for time for investigations and projects.
“In science are presently learning about some freaky and awesome bacteria and some dangerous diseases like Ebola and Anthrax. We are reading a book about real life cases about Ebola and we watched a video about an Ebola outbreak in Africa.” Jessy Grade 7
“My favorite time of day is Math because we learn.” Yoshi Grade 1
“PE is normally something that we have to use our mental ability combined with our physical endurance to be able to participate in and have fun doing the activity. We also have to learn how to work well as a team.”-Storm Grade 8
“In Science class we learn about the most interesting things from deadly viruses to the canopy in the rain forest.” Marshall Grade 8
”I really like L.A. because we do a lot of different activities like journaling, writing monologues, and we also do some outside activities.” Jonathan Grade 8
“My favorite time of day at La Paz is Performing Arts because we need to dance and I like to dance with music” Rochelle Grade 2
There is a 20 minute recess in the morning and a 25 minute recess before or after a 25 minute lunch depending on grade level. The students have the option to play in the gym, outside in the playground, or they may relax in the Palapa if they are in the secondary school.
“My favorite part of the school week is the day, or the days I bring my guitar. These days are my favorites because I get to practice my guitar skills and teach Nils and Gabo to play some new songs and riffs. I prefer brining my electric guitar to school, because the distortion makes it sounds beautiful” Oliver Grade 9
La Paz parents continue to run the lunch program and are committed to offering healthy meals to the students on a daily basis. About 75% of the school orders school lunch and the teachers are committed to modeling healthy eating habits as they are essential for the intellectual, emotional, and physical growth of all children.
CREATIVE BLOCK FRIDAYS
The last 50 minutes of each week are a time for teachers and students to work on projects that are focused on the theme of the month. Many times teachers and students are placed such that they are working with those that they have not worked with before. Whether creating a school skit on problem solving strategies, designing and fabricating a local form of pottery, or cooking an Israeli dish, Friday afternoon is generally organized chaos at La Paz and offer a phenomenal educational experience to teachers and students before the arrival of the weekend.
“I like science, maps, and writing and all that, but the best are the teachers” Hazel Grade 3
Several times per week, students at all grade levels have the opportunity to enjoy the peace and quiet of the library while they select from the thousands of volumes at the parent/student run program.
“My favorite time of day at La Paz is the library because the people at the library work hard” Milla Grade 1
BIG BUDDY, LITTLE BUDDY
The big buddy, little buddy program at La Paz is an essential aspect to the school philosophy that all students should feel as though they are part of a community. In order to breed interactions between students of all ages, each student in an older grade is matched with a student in a younger grade. These students then participate in creative blocks together or simply sit together at morning meeting. The program allows for younger students to feel more comfortable in a larger school environment and gives the older, more experienced students the responsibility to act as leaders and mentors at the school.
La Paz educates children about the value of ecosystems and how to manage them properly; the children then share this knowledge with their families and the wider community. Innovative programs teach students to be respectful, responsible stewards of natural resources and protect threatened ecosystems. Parents on the school’s “Green Committee” collaborate with teachers and administrators to identify opportunities to incorporate environmental lessons into daily school life.
“My favorite time of the week is the Recycle Challenge. First of all, you need to collect your own recycling from the class that you are in charge of. Then, you have a chart listing length, width, volume, height, and mass. We measure the recycling and then fill it in on our spreadsheet.” Yannick Grade 8