|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.
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, Music, Dance, and Drama as co-curricular activities. There are six “foci” of 60 minutes each during the day working on a rotating schedule. The classroom experience is rooted in a well rounded balance between direct instruction and student centered experiences. Students have ample opportunities to collaborate with peers in an authentic manner in order to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts learned.
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.
Cafe La Paz offers a unique culinary arts experience for the student body. Read more here.
CREATIVE BLOCK FRIDAYS
The last 60 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.
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.
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.