Meaningful and Authentic Learning
In addition to engaging instruction in the core subjects, every day at Explore! includes a block of project-based learning we call Explorations. Our project-based learning approach engages children’s natural love for learning and develops essential critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. Through Explorations, students will apply academic concepts in real life, integrating art, music, technology, and community service as they imagine and create works of beauty and worth. Following a rigorous cycle of feedback and revision, students will participate in an exhibition of their work to an authentic audience, nurturing their self-expression as readers, authors, mathematicians, scientists, and artists.
A Culture of Craftsmanship, Joy, and Love
Explore! students will achieve the highest levels of academic success in a rigorous and supportive environment. With two teachers in every classroom, there are ample opportunities for Explorers to receive targeted instructional opportunities and to build trusting and supportive relationships with caring adults.
In order for students to work hard, take risks, and realize their potential for excellence, they must know that they are known, supported and cared for. Every staff member at Explore! is trained in utilizing Responsive Classroom, Restorative Practices, and Move This World. Explore! staff works to support a whole child approach to learning, integrating social and emotional lessons into the daily fabric of instruction. In addition, our staff utilizes a workshop model and incorporates mindfulness instruction to create a K-8 environment in which each student is emotionally and creatively supported, valued, and loved.
We also believe that teaching and learning should be fun for students, staff, and families. Research shows that play is essential for developing creativity and interpersonal skills and also results in higher academic achievement. Students at Explore! receive from 170 minutes to 250 minutes of physical activity a week. Our talented team also uses a variety of strategies including brain breaks, flexible seating and Go Noodle to increase the level of fun and movement in the classroom!
We believe strongly that students need opportunities to develop their gifts and express their learning in multiple formats. We are very proud to offer our Explorers weekly instruction in music, art, and fitness and adventure. Our fitness and adventure program includes many traditional elements of physical education, while also encouraging students to explore the realms of capoeira, camping, and a wide variety of novel games. In kindergarten through second grade, Explorers also have the weekly benefit of garden-based instruction. In third through fifth grade, Explorers benefit from foreign language instruction in Spanish!
Collaboration with Families and the Community
We respect all parents as their child’s first teacher and seek to learn from and with families as we collaborate for student success. We know that we cannot achieve our ambitious goals alone and will build a thriving school community, purposefully connecting students and families to resources and to each other, specifically through the Family Advisory Council. We celebrate diversity as strength and actively seek to learn, understand, and integrate the unique histories and perspectives of our students and families into our school community.
We are proud to partner with these local programs:
Southern Word. For the past three years, we have partnered with Southern Word to provide embedded writing experiences for our first and third grade students. Resident writing experts enhance our curriculum by providing workshops on songwriting and poetry, encouraging students to explore new literary outputs. Explorers’ work culminates in an class “Open Mic” session, where all are supported to share their voice.
The mission of Southern Word: Through the literary and performing arts, Southern Word offers creative solutions for youth to build literacy and presentation skills, reconnect to their education and lives, and act as leaders in the improvement of their communities. We are committed to providing youth, especially in under-served communities, with as many opportunities as possible to develop and publicly present their voices both live and in print, video, audio and digital media.
Plant the Seed. Since our founding year, Plant the Seed has provided hands-on garden-based curriculum for Explorers. Supplementing classroom-based science concepts, Plant the Seed cultivates an environment where students experience content first-hand. Explorers are involved in designing garden layouts, responsible for the care and keeping of plants in our school garden, and actively use ingredients from our garden in new recipes. Plant the Seed is a weekly part of Explorers’ experience in kindergarten, first, and second grade, while third graders have the opportunity to self-select into a garden club to build upon previously learned concepts.
The mission of Plant the Seed: Plant the Seed is a nonprofit program that shapes community and school gardens into outdoor classrooms to educate and empower under-resourced young people- building cultural connections, advancing economic justice and improving their overall health and wellbeing. We see sowing, preparing, and sharing food as a powerful tool for starting cross-cultural conversations and growing together in community.
Community partners who have supported project-based learning projects:
Souls for Soles
Walk Bike Nashville
Play Like a Girl
The Martha O’Bryan Center
Vanderbilt Community Nursing
East Side Art Stumble and Andee Rudloff
East Side Story
HerStory Book Store
Shelby Bottoms Parks