There are certain teachers at the school who are the true leaders and are the finest teachers around. At times it's been hard to find the same level of quality in the new teachers and so there is more turnover than one would like.
There are many opportunities for students to develop these skills - from wilderness experiences, to great physical education classes, to having to participate in the many performances in front of the school. Because of the individual attention each student receives, teacher can focus on developing these qualities.
Respect for others is a key value at the school. There is very little bullying - and if any starts it is dealt with immediately. The environment is one where kids feel safe and free to be themselves. I love watching all the students of all ages interact on the playground. Older students are playing foursquare with younger students. There is a feeling of mutual respect and caring everywhere. It's really impressive.
Throughout the school year, there are service projects. Students have packed backpacks of donated food for children through Share, worked on clearing trails for wilderness areas, raised money for Mercycorps, Northwest Battle Buddies and many others. The school hosts senior citizens from a local assisted living facility to come listen to their music performances. The list goes on.
The school places a major focus on developing character and stance with its students. One of the most effective programs is their buddy program, where students from the higher grades are paired for the school year with students from the younger grades. These relationships create opportunities for the older students to be seen as role models of behavior to the young ones. The young ones look up to them. As they grow, they become the older kids who now must carry themselves in a way that the young ones can look up to.
There are also conscious methods used for dealing with conflicts between students - based on listening, respect, and problem solving.
The general atmosphere of the school is one of acceptance of each other and mutual respect. It is modeled by the teachers and the head of school and carries down to the student body.
I have to agree with the previous poster. Our child was not at grade level when we removed him from Gardner. While he loved playing in the wetlands, we suspect he didn't learn very much in his time at the school.
There are many things to like about Gardner. The outdoor play time, science and especially art are wonderful.
However. We found that the teachers were often busy dealing with serious behavior problems rather than teaching. It also seemed to us that children with learning challenges and the children of faculty were a priority over other kids. We found our very typical child was behind academically after leaving Gardner. We are not alone in this finding, the school has a high turnover.
Overall while being in nature and going on lots of field trips is really fabulous, we found the other challenges overwhelmed the benefits.
The environment fostered at this school is exactly what I want for my two children: challenging, life affirming, nurturing and accepting. I particularly love how the older and younger students play together on a daily basis. There is a strong focus on the arts as well as math and sciences. It's in a pastoral setting complete with wetlands and a wide open feel to the campus. I have read enough to know how critical early learning is in overall development. I can't imagine a better use of my money.
We have two children attending Gardner. Having older children that attended private Christian based schools, we were curious how the Gardner experience would be different. Let me say simply, it's like night and day. No comparison. Not to be harsh to Christian education, but we've found the Gardner staff, parents and culture to be accepting of all peoples, religions and beliefs. Being a very social person, I was concerned that (judging by the tuition costs) there would be snooty parents, driving expensive cars and children dressed like they were going to a photo shoot. I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised by the down to earth families who are committed to their child's education. What I've found is people who send their children to Gardner are 100% invested in their children getting the best learning experience Clark County has to offer. Often times sacrificing fancy vehicles and other luxuries. Our children's teachers are wise, caring and understanding. They are patient, yet firm. Loving and attentive, being fair beyond measure. We're excited to continue being a part of the Gardner school in the years to come. Our children love school!