Q&A with Amy Vorenberg
How does King challenge students?
Teachers respect students as learners by asking them to stretch their capacity beyond the comfortable and known, and by providing rich opportunities for growth as students strive to realize their individual potential. Lower School faculty use student-centered approaches to teaching and learning, leveraging the latest research on best practices in education. They integrate curriculum, providing opportunities for children to express their understandings of topics through multiple disciplines. Our curriculum supports a project-based approach, where children represent their understanding through various expressions. For example, a child may explain a science concept by building a scaled model, creating an artistic sculpture, or written summary. Multiple avenues of expression provide greater successes for learners as they represent meaning and demonstrate understanding.
How do you think about classroom environments and design?
Each teacher makes decisions about the set-up and organization of a teaching space. We see the classroom as opportunity. We purposefully choose materials that will inspire, challenge, and stretch learners to new understandings. Our classroom spaces are both flexible and intentionally designed. Children, especially in our early childhood classrooms, find materials and make choices within our classrooms that build skills, including social skills. Because academic achievement is enhanced through social interaction, we design activities for children to work and play together daily. Our trained teachers balance emergent curriculum - curriculum generated by student questions and interests - with developmentally appropriate skill development. Pre-academic and academic areas are integrated into project work and students become experts in areas of study.
What is the Readers and Writers workshop?
The Readers and Writers workshop approach engages students with material that is of high interest and aligns with their personal goals so students develop as avid and skilled readers and writers. Teachers address whole group skills and differentiate for the needs of each student within smaller groups and one-on-one meetings. The goals established for each student are informed by assessments. There are different genres and topics for children to explore. Using a “just right” book, a book which a student can both decode and comprehend, and writing about a topic that has meaning to the student, stretches each student to achieve the student's personal best.
How do King educators support all students?
We approach our work as a team. Together, administrators and teachers collaborate and share what we know and observe about student learning. A dedicated Director of Teaching and Learning in the Lower School, and in each division, supports the faculty. King has developed a proprietary, internal system that highlights each student’s strengths, challenges, and goals. Teachers actively contribute to and utilize this database to support each student’s development over time as a student moves through our challenging academic program.
How did you dedicate your life to education?
In my 30+ years in education, I have witnessed in countless ways the enormous, life-changing benefits of a robust early childhood and elementary school program. I've worked as Head of School, Lower School Division head and a classroom teacher in elementary schools throughout the northeast.