Although this brings to mind the physical neighborhood in which one lives, at RPMS, you can feel the many meanings of community and how it lives at our school. For the toddlers, it’s the classroom with 11 other students and two teachers. They don’t see much beyond that (except when walking wide-eyed through the halls to the gym or playground). The Children’s House students experience more children of different ages in their classroom. They share the nook at drop-off and the halls at pick-up, learning names, personalities and often humor. Children start to have playdates, birthday parties, classroom picnics and activities with families. As these families move on from the first few years, RPMS parents organically develop friendships, established in the RPMS community of the Children’s House.
“I am at the same stage of life with those in the RPMS school community. We share RPMS as a space for events. But more importantly, we are sharing this time where our biggest questions of our life are to evolve as parents, converging our own adult values to our children’s lives,” says Mike Green (Maryn and Miles, 5 and 3 years old). “I’ve found that as I navigate my new world, based around the ages of my children, RPMS is where I have found myself building a community.”
By elementary age, we see students moving together into hallways, the gallery, the library, and art, music, and Spanish rooms as part of their day of learning. They recognize and talk to other students easily, and adults in the building, both teachers and those in offices they pass. Their parents have relationships outside of their student’s friendships, and students cultivate relationships through their own shared interests.
“What's so great about being a part of the RPMS community is that I'm surrounded by parents who are raising their children with a similar set of core beliefs,” reflects Julieanne Ehre (Esther 12, and Avi, 10). “These shared values have enabled my children to flourish in their friendships both at school and on playdates at someone's home. As part of Pivot Arts, the arts organization I run, RPMS families have participated for the past three years in the Pivot Arts community parade event. It's been a fantastic opportunity for our kids to connect with children from a variety of backgrounds.”
By Middle School, that initial slow, organic growth of sharing the RPMS space with other toddler and early preschool families has deep community roots. For Shannon Witherspoon, being a part of the RPMS community and volunteering for over a decade has built strong friendships with other families, teachers and staff. She saw her volunteer work at RPMS shift from simply a way to work with her own children in their classrooms, to wanting to be at this school every chance she got.
“The opportunity to interact with the children and be a part of a space that invites our children to be themselves is always welcomed,” says Shannon, mother of Stella and Hazel, both in the Aspen Middle School Classroom. “I love watching how the different works are taught and how the mixed ages respond to them. Volunteering since their toddler year has brought me further into the strong RPMS community, and I feel fortunate that we found such a magical place not only for our children, but also for myself. The decade we have spent at RPMS and these relationships built a foundation that my children have thrived in and will keep with them forever. Being engaged with the community provides all of us with a safe and loving environment to grow and change. The support system that is built around the students, and the confidence my girls have developed through what has been given to them every day at school, will keep them on the yellow brick road for years to come. RPMS is home.”