Epiphany is an innovative learning community that addresses students’ wide range of cognitive abilities. Many of our children come to us disbelieving that learning is an active process. We must teach them that learning is a partnership for which they are responsible. Epiphany celebrates our students’ many different learning styles. In response to their differing abilities, we diversify our classroom teaching. Our entire science curriculum is experientially based. We often teach kinetically. For example, we present the concept of main idea and outlining by having the children create 3-D backbones and supporting structures. We teach grammar through rap, geography through art, and history through plays. Furthermore, children experience many different cohorts and partners in their learning because they are grouped in a variety of ways: ability, age, and gender. Again and again, we work to incorporate different approaches and models into the classroom.
Our twelve-hour day includes a curriculum designed to meet the needs of our students, breakfast, lunch, dinner, a rigorous sports program, and evening study. This schedule was intentionally put in place to create an intensive environment for both academic and social growth. We build upon this commitment at our summer Academic Intensive at Groton School. Finally, tutoring is a crucial component of the Epiphany experience. Half of our students receive tutoring in one or more subjects. This one-on-one, often remedial support is what allows so many of our students to thrive at Epiphany.
The way in which Epiphany’s students and surrounding adults join forces to achieve excellence is innovative. At the heart of this effort is our partnership with caregivers. They must contribute two hours of work for the school each week: to help the school function, to be a presence in the school, and to model for their child involvement and accountability. We encourage them to bring questions and concerns to our attention, and we call caregivers into relationship with us as directors of their children’s education. The faculty is also structured to meet all facets of student need. There are traditional master teachers who do the majority of the teaching and curriculum design. Teaching Fellows give of themselves generously over two years. They teach classes, lead sports, supervise evening study, and shoulder the massive task of making Epiphany a full-service school with a twelve-hour day. Equally important are the tutors who allow Epiphany to offer crucial, remedial instruction and one-on-one attention.
Finally, Epiphany is innovative in that it provides a safe environment. We provide emotional safety because there is real security in knowing that we never give up on a child. There is also intellectual safety in that the faculty knows each student, is aware of each student’s specific needs, and responds to those needs while holding that child to appropriate and rigorous academic and social benchmarks. We also emphasize physical and psychological safety in our aggressive stance against bullying, hazing, and teasing. Physical violence is not tolerated at the school. Epiphany also maintains an atmosphere of spiritual safety in which all faiths are respected. Every aspect of the program has been tailored to ensure that we are, above all else, a community of learning. Our twelve hour day, our strict policies around safety, our emphasis on gaining proficiency in basic skills and our insistence that every assignment must be completed—all of this combines to make Epiphany a place where student needs are assessed and responded to creatively and compassionately.