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What makes Parker special is its heart. At Parker, we’ve created a unique, familial culture; one that is safe, inclusive, and caring and that celebrates the distinctiveness of each individual.
Young people are much more likely to realize their potential when they feel appreciated and understood. Because of our small size overall and limited class size, teachers know all of their students and often have the opportunity to teach a student more than once. Students seek out teachers outside of class for extra help and a listening ear. Teachers care, not just about a student’s grade in class, but about the whole individual’s personal well-being—academically, socially and emotionally. In short, as it says in our mission statement, Parker students are known, valued and nurtured by their teachers, and they are taught as whole individuals.
Our culture of empathy and responsibility begins in the lower school, where the Conscious Discipline approach is interwoven into the K-5 experience. Teachers guide students in communicating thoughtfully with one another, so that they become increasingly adept at navigating disagreements and self-regulating emotional responses. By fifth grade, students act as mediators for younger students’ disagreements, helping each other to resolve disputes compassionately and fairly.
Our middle school caters to the needs of young adolescents, offering them opportunities for leadership, self-expression and personal growth. Teachers closely observe students’ interactions both in and out of the classroom, offering careful guidance and intervening before situations have a chance to snowball. “Stink talk” and bullying are not tolerated. The little things—positive or negative—don’t go unnoticed. They are all teachable moments, from helping students develop an intrinsic sense of accomplishment, to modeling how a dispute can be resolved. Our middle school head and teachers help students to navigate the middle grade years healthily and compassionately.
In the upper school, students are offered many opportunities to take on increasing responsibility as leaders and collaborators in athletics, clubs and organizations. They mentor younger students as lower school TAs, in drama, and as assistant coaches for lower and middle grade athletics. Those elected to Student Council act as a voice for their peers with regard to policies affecting their lives at the school while also providing fun activities to offer breaks from the intensity of academics. Parker dances are always well-attended and lively, and students cheer one another on in pep rallies, at the winter talent show, and at athletic events and live performances, celebrating each other’s successes as a community.
Everyone matters in our school family. When disagreements arise, students endeavor to work out their differences or “give each other space.” New students are welcomed with excitement, brought into the fold and acculturated to the “Parker Way,” which eschews gossip, cliquiness and teasing. Our students convey our culture of patience, tolerance and celebration of individual differences to those new to the community.
In these ways, our three divisions, though distinct and separate, are also connected, allowing younger students to learn from older students, and older students to model mature behavior and an internalized understanding of the Parker values: excellence, integrity and compassion.
Our students feel a great warmth for one another and for their school, and this is the heart of Parker School, the cornerstone of the Parker School experience across all grades.