By EMILY RAMSEY
EDUCATION GROWTH: Riverfield Country Day School recently held a ground-breaking ceremony for its newest building, a multi-use building for secondary students that will house offices, a media center, a cafeteria and 15 classrooms. It is expected to open in August 2013. Headmaster Jerry Bates, third from right, hopes to see continued growth while maintaining the school’s core ideals of multi-age instruction, student leadership and environmental stewardship.
Riverfield Country Day School has been successfully combining education and nature with an emphasis on student leadership for 28 years.
The school sits tucked among the trees on 120 acres just west of Highway 75 on 61st Street. “The goal was to put the school in a field across the river,” says Marketing Director Wes Rowell. “The thought was to have a large campus to explore the environment and develop a love and stewardship with the environment.”
The school site contains a network of trails for students to walk and explore. There are even outdoor classrooms, including a treehouse for sketching and lecturing. “On most days, there is at least one class somewhere outside,” he says.
Riverfield began in 1984 as solely a preschool. The school currently enrolls children of all ages starting at eight weeks up to high school seniors.
Throughout Riverfield’s history, expansion has continued.
Riverfield’s lastest expansion has just begun. The school held a ground-breaking ceremony on Nov. 16 for a two-story, multi-use building for secondary students that will house offices, a media center, a cafeteria and 15 classrooms. It is expected to open in August 2013.
The groundbreaking took place on Visitor’s Day, a highly-anticipated yearly event at Riverfield. “We always have a great turnout with families coming to see what we do here,” says Headmaster Jerry Bates.
“We encourage families to be a part of their children’s educations,” he says. “The family, the student and the teacher are three protagonists in each student’s education.”
Riverfield also encourages a high level of student involvement in daily learning.
“Students are intertwined with their curriculum and the faculty,” says Rowell. “They lead demonstrations. They truly understand what they are doing and are able to explain it to the teachers.”
Also, up until sixth grade, students of different grades attend class together, which creates mentorship opportunities for older students and eases the transition into a new grade for younger students, Bates says.
Bates became headmaster at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. He has been with Riverfield for 12 years, serving most recently as assistant headmaster.
Multi-age instruction, student leadership and environmental stewardship are three principles at the core of the Riverfield mission and are things that Bates wants to continue at the school.
“With the new building, there will be more room for increased student enrollment,” he says. “But we don’t want to sacrifice our ideals. We want to grow but remain committed.”