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Growing up at Park

Mary Skelton Roberts, Park School Parent
Growing up  at Park
Photo: Courtesy of The Park School

How do you decide what is the “right” school for your child? When our family was considering Kindergarten for our daughter, Dahlia, we asked a lot of questions and ultimately chose The Park School. From the beginning, everyone at the school seemed to understand that Dahlia had an outgoing, artistic personality. We wanted an environment with a rigorous academic program that wouldn’t stifle her creativity. Park has nurtured that well by focusing on the whole child.

Photo: Mary Skelton Roberts

Photo: Mary Skelton Roberts

Her journey

Beginning in Kindergarten, the school helped Dahlia develop a love of learning with lots of fun, engaging lessons designed to engage her young mind. With a class of only 14 students, her teacher got to know each child individually, understanding different learning styles, preferences, and social and emotional development. Dahlia came home with hand-picked books that were just the right level on just the right topics.

Dahlia is now in her final year at Park. At every grade level, she and her classmates have been challenged intellectually with engaging projects that inspire curiosity, provide context, and build real-world skills. As often as possible, these have been learning experiences – an Ellis Island simulation in Grade 5 to learn about historical immigration followed by interviewing parents in the community who immigrated to the US in recent years; in music class, she composed a piece and made it come to life by creating a handcrafted music box in the makerspace. Next spring, Dahlia and the whole eighth grade will travel overseas with their language classes to China, France, Italy, or Spain to practice their language skills in an immersive setting and experience a unique culture first-hand.

Outside of academics, “extracurriculars” (art, music, drama, physical education, athletics, after-school activities) are just as important. Dahlia, who loves to sing, joined the choir in Kindergarten and is now a role model for the younger students. She’s also been in the school musicals, runs track in the spring, and, this year is the captain of the volleyball team! Having a broad array of choices is essential to cultivating well-rounded students who understand who they are by discovering their passions.

Our journey

As parents, we feel like part of the community and are proud to share our family’s cultural heritage with Dahlia’s classmates. Dahlia’s dad, who grew up in Barbados, visited her class during their study of immigration in fifth grade, and even played guitar for the kids! One of my fondest memories was when Dahlia was in second grade, I read one of her favorite children’s books out loud: La Primera Luna Llena de Gatito. The kids knew the English version, Kitten’s First Full Moon, and loved hearing it in Spanish. I also spoke of my Cuban heritage and foods we serve at home.

Since joining the Park community in 2011, Brian and I have both been regular volunteers at the annual spring carnival. And I served as a fifth grade class rep and co-chaired the fall dinners for new parents to get to know the community. This year, I am delighted to be serving on the board of trustees to help make important decisions for my daughter’s, and our family’s, community.

This will be Dahlia’s last year at Park. And, as we reflect on the past eight years and see how well rounded, academically prepared, and happy she is, I know we made the right choice in choosing Park.