1. I found a phenomenal local program called Wholesome Tummies. Honestly, I never knew such a company existed, but it is a result of two mothers (Debbie and Samantha) who had a vision for healthier, "more wholesome" school lunches. The food they offer looks delicious, and it is different from a traditional school lunch program because families order meals from the Internet. The meals get delivered right to the school. Healthy meals are prepared in creative ways with organic and whole-grain products. The foods never contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans-fats, artificial flavors and colors, or artificial nitrates. Additionally, their recipes are nut-free. Their weblog (also hosted at Blogspot) includes recipes as well. Additionally, they are on social media and have wonderful pictures of their food options.
2. Writing Fix is a website the elementary teachers and middle school language arts teacher would be familiarized with. Needless to say, I have known about Corbett Harrison's website for about four years or so. The school's reading program would focus around rich examples of literature, non-fiction, and mentor texts, and some of the writing assignments would serve as a creative extension. Also, students would learn about the components of non-fiction writing from the youngest years.
For reading and writing, there would not be textbooks because students could learn "inferential, insightful reading techniques" with various literature the teacher models as well as personal choices. The teachers at our school would be exposed to the Lucy Calkins Units of Study. My friend, Angela Bunyi, has followed her program while teaching at Discovery School: Reeves Rogers in Tennessee.
Students would also have access to periodicals, though: preferably ones like Scholastic Storyworks and Scholastic SuperScience for grades 3-5 and Junior Scholastic and Science World for grades 6-8. Something age-appropriate and interesting would be found for grades K-2 as well.
Older students would have access to lists like these as well.
3. The 6th-8th graders would ideally be a part of the IB Middle Years Programme (or have exposure to curriculum that parallels across the curriculum). IB focuses on inquiry and self-reflection. Math Exemplars is also a program I have been quite impressed with over time and offers materials for students in grades K-12 (and would be offered to all grades at our school). My desire would be for the students to learn to be critical problem-solvers who are encouraged to expand their mathematical schema. NCTM standards are addressed in each lesson, and Common Core standards are addressed as well. Students progress through levels: Novice, Apprentice, Practitioner, and Expert. Our students would also have access to numerous math manipulatives. Math would likely have a textbook as well.
4. For science, I have read about schools that focus on environmental science (for example Gamble Rogers Middle School's PEAK/IBMYP program in St. Augustine, Florida). Some students choose to participate in a Marine Science program during the summer. I do not know which approach we would take, but the students would possibly focus on different components of science (like astronomy as a main focus for two years) as they progress through their years at the school.
5. Our school would also focus on elements of Character Counts, having a presentation six times a year that focuses on the qualities of character. As I mentioned, students would learn about community service, reach out to others on at least a local level every year, and have pen pals within the state as well as internationally. I have read about classes who have communicated with pen pals in England and Japan; I would want our school's students, even in the youngest grades, to understand the scope of our world.
6. There would also be some tremendous clubs, most of them meeting after school once a week. I have researched a lot about different programs that can prove beneficial for kids, but it would depend on our population (their interests), what teachers would be interested in sponsoring, and even what parents or community members would be interested in sponsoring. We would have to find a program that would approve each parent or community member who desires to help as registered volunteers. As for sports, it would depend on who is willing to help, though we would likely be at only a recreational level.
7. Science and Social Studies would be exploratory, but include materials for teachers to incorporate both subjects effectively in their rooms. Visiting interactive websites would help students to understand concepts a great deal. A plethora of non-fiction (and fiction for Social Studies) literature would be in our school library for teachers to use with their students. There would be different science demonstrations at our school throughout the year to engage students, and they would learn how to complete an appropriate science fair project.
8. Students would also have the chance to be proactive like in many other schools (serving on the Student Council and contributing to the school yearbook). Older students would learn photography and how to organize something the faculty, students, and families of the school would want to purchase.
As time moves on, I want to take all these elements to develop a mission statement, philosophy, and vision. Every day, the vision of what this school would be (or will be) is getting clearer.