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Progressive Education in a Natural Setting

For nearly 50 years, The Marylhurst School has been providing students an experiential, child-led education in a welcoming community environment.

Presented by Marylhurst School December 22, 2021

Working in the school garden.

“It’s like learning to drive a car, rather than riding in the back seat,” says Emily Ramirez, the Assistant Head of School at The Marylhurst School, when describing progressive education. ”It allows us to provide opportunities for our students to step into excellence in areas of their own individual interest.”

Progressive Education’s roots date back to the nineteenth-century idea that education should prepare students for citizenship and success in a modern democratic world. It focuses on developing critical thinking and encourages students to become inquirers, who actively engage in their own education, instead of passively absorbing information. In a progressive learning environment, educators nurture and support the student’s own curiosity and foster internal motivation in place of external reward. 

Middle schoolers completing a service project on campus.

First established in 1972 on the campus of Marylhurst University, The Marylhurst School functioned as both a training program for early childhood education and a preschool. In 1986 the school was established as an independent, progressive learning community. To meet a growing need, the school expanded in 2012 to welcome their inaugural primary-grade cohort and graduated their first eighth-grade class in the spring of 2018. By 2020, the school recognized the need for a new campus to meet a growing student body.

Today, two campuses, the new Heron Creek Campus in Oregon City and the preschool in West Linn, serve students from thirty different zip codes throughout Clackamas and Multnomah counties. Located beside the Clackamas River, the nearly 40 acre Heron Creek Campus offers a full-day preschool through eighth grade. The campus includes multiple buildings housing classrooms, space for special subjects like music, Spanish, and P.E., and plenty of room to add programming and activities in the future. The sprawling campus allows space for outdoor learning, play, and plenty of exploration. 

Playing and learning in the preschool.

The preschool in West Linn serves children from ages two, in a parent/child classroom, up to four years of age. The children, most embarking on their first independent school experience, engage with the curriculum through their own ideas and inspiration. Literacy, math, and language are woven into what the children bring each day, keeping them engaged. All of this is brought with the primary focus on the social-emotional development and health of each child so that they have the skills to work cooperatively in addition to their new independence. 

Now approaching its fiftieth year, The Marylhurst School has taken the guiding principles of the progressive education model and created a school that focuses on the ideals of inquiry, innovation, resourcefulness, empathy, and perseverance. By maintaining small class sizes and a low student-teacher ratio, students can engage with the child-centered curriculum, allowing them to have a full range of experiences in the sciences and humanities. Relationship building and collaboration take center stage in the classroom and children are supported through conflict and challenges building essential qualities that will serve them in the future.

To see what The Marylhurst School has to offer, RSVP for their open house. Held at both campuses at 1:00 p.m. on Jan 22nd, 2022. https://themarylhurstschool.org/openhouse/


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