Jeff Oremland

Headshot Annalise Messner

Annalise Messner

Quest Academy’s mission is to provide gifted children a challenging curriculum and a nurturing environment.  We encourage each individual to strive for personal excellence in a warmly connected community.  Here’s how we do that in the “Otter Class,” our program for 3-4 year old students.

Our youngest students start their day in our sunlit entry, greeted by welcoming smiles and warm gestures from their friends and teachers.  While the students sign in and take care of their belongings, parents and teachers touch base about the children, classroom news, and generally build our connections.  Kids settle in and investigate the morning provocation, constructed on a table, that prompts them to draw or sculpt as they are inspired. The day officially begins with our morning meeting, then children enjoy time for meals, focused classes, and most importantly, exploration and play.  The daily routine affords both dependability and flexibility and spontaneity.

One sunny October morning, we’d just finished singing our welcome song when “N” said, “Mr. O., I want to add something to the agenda.”  I passed N the whiteboard and a marker and N “wrote” down the idea. N gave me permission to write the idea in my own writing, next to his, then dictated to me a new classroom rule he’d proposed in writing: “no toys going down the slide.”  Out loud, I spelled the words as I wrote. Some students watched and listened, and others helped spell the words. I held up a picture book and said, “I was planning to read this today, but we can postpone it if this discussion is urgent.” All but one of the students agreed that the discussion was definitely more urgent and off they went, debating the merits and disadvantages of the proposed rule.  After about ten minutes, the students reached consensus and we added the rule to our classroom agreements. It’s not always like that. Sometimes the debate deflates as it proceeds; other times students stretch the discussion to their own breaking point and we decide to table it for another meeting. Always, my role as teacher is to facilitate, guide, and coach the students as they take on their role as a full community members, to co-create the learning community of which each of them is a part.