Atlas Public Schools Home

Preparing a generation for a lifetime of exploration

Join the Movement

Atlas is a new public charter elementary school for curious, creative, and compassionate kids.  Located in the heart of St. Louis' Midtown neighborhood, in our first year, we will offer kindergarten and first grade and will add one grade level each year thereafter until we’re a K-5 elementary school.  This approach allows us to start small and grow smart so we can ensure that all of our students get the personalized attention they deserve.  

~ As a kid, joining Atlas means learning through authentic real-world experiences and finding your joy in learning and discovery.
 
~ As a family, you will be among like-minded individuals who have big dreams for their children and are rethinking how kids are educated. 
 
~ As a community, we will work collectively to ensure all our children receive the education they deserve and empower them to be active citizens who are equipped to help make the world a better place.

A Place to Thrive

At Atlas, we instill a love of learning in our kids while empowering them to build a healthy future for themselves, our community, and the world.  We believe that children learn best through authentic hands-on experiences.  Our integrated approach to teaching helps our students make real-world connections and ignites their imaginations, so they are stimulated to discover meaningful passions of their own.  Our kids are academically exceptional and have the habits, skills, and mindsets needed to thrive. 

Spring At-Home Learning Kits

At Atlas, we celebrate the wonder and magic of learning.  Our at-home learning kits are a great way for your family to engage with our team and see for yourself what makes Atlas so special.  The theme of this season’s kit is Feathery Friends, and it includes books, resources, and activities that are designed to be fun and engaging.  Our learning kits are geared towards 3-6 year old students and are completely free to families who live in the City of St. Louis.

Developing a Love of Reading & Learning

At Atlas, it’s important that our students don’t just become good readers, but that they develop a true love for reading and learning.  Books have the power to inspire us to dream big, teach us about our history, and expose us to a world of endless possibilities.  Our goal at Atlas is to inspire a lifelong love of learning that doesn’t stop at the classroom, but matures into a future full of passion and opportunities.  We encourage you to check out our Read Aloud Series with Brisa Garcia, one of our amazing team members, as she shares some of her favorite books.

The Atlas Difference

Real-World Experiences

Learning happens everywhere. We immerse our students in the local St. Louis community and provide opportunities for authentic hands-on learning experiences.  This helps our kids discover their passions, develop their skills, and learn about our world and themselves.
 
 
The major question facing schools across the county is how to best prepare our children for the ever-changing world they are entering. Students must develop the skills, understandings, and mindsets necessary to prepare them for the careers and challenges of tomorrow. We know that students need multiple and varied strategic opportunities to explore, practice, and perfect 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Children learn by doing and emphasizing hands-on, real-world experiences makes learning more meaningful to students and helps lessons stick. For these reasons, Atlas strives to connect lessons learned in the classroom with authentic, place-based learning experiences. 

Place-based learning is the process of using the local community and environment as both a starting point for inquiry and as a context for exploring and applying concepts and skills across the curriculum.  Place-based education weaves together concepts from English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, and the arts, rather than teaching them exclusively in isolation.

Year-Round Education

Our year-round school calendar supports our comprehensive whole-child approach to learning.  From academics, play, the arts, wellness, and social emotional learning, we are committed to ensuring the success of our students - academically, emotionally, and physically.
 
 
 
Most public schools in the United States operate on a 10-month calendar, starting around September and ending in May or June. This school schedule became the default when children needed to work in the fields during the summer. However, the 10-month school calendar no longer fits the needs of most American children or families. The Atlas Founding Team conducted focus groups, met with parents one-on-one, and surveyed families--the vast majority of whom indicated that they struggle to find quality child care options during the summer months. In addition, many educators, including the Founders of Atlas, worry about a phenomenon known as the “summer slide”. This is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Research dated as far back as the 1980s era shows wider disparities in test scores between children from low-income and high-income families after the summer holiday. There is ample evidence showing that low-income children are especially vulnerable during summer months when they lose access to important social services such as food and childcare. 
 

In response to these academic and socio-emotional concerns, Atlas adopted a year-round school calendar. During intersession breaks, families have access to community organizations for additional support for childcare, food, and other social services.  Intersession breaks also allow teachers and support the time to work collaboratively with their teams to internalize and strengthen lessons for the next academic session.  Atlas’ year-round calendar builds in 30 full days of teacher inservice each school year. 
 
Below is a draft of Atlas' 2021-2022 School Calendar.
 

Diverse-by-Design

At Atlas, we see the diversity of our community as a source of strength and key to our success in educating culturally empathetic global citizens.  Atlas' students come from all over St. Louis!  Each child will be welcomed, affirmed, and cared for, receiving the personalized instruction needed to thrive.
 
 
 

Co-Taught Classrooms

At Atlas, we believe all kids should receive the personalized instruction they need to flourish.  In order to set our students up for success, each of our classes are co-taught by two educators.  This gives teachers the flexibility to personalize instruction and help each child reach their individual goals.
 
Below are a few specific scenarios of what this will look like at different times throughout the day:
 
-  Both teachers co-teaching the same lesson with all students working on a similar project or task
 
-  One teacher supports two or three students while the other teacher leads the larger group

-  Students working in four groups of six or seven students; students rotate between four stations;  two of the stations are led by a teacher, and two of the stations are student-directed
 
-  The class is split into two groups of roughly thirteen students, and each group is taught by one of the teachers
One teacher leads a whole group lesson while the other teacher circulates the room offering support where needed
 
-  Both teachers pulling either individual students or small groups while all other students work on an independent assignment
 
Our co-teacher model allows for more flexibility and enables our teachers to personalize instruction and ensure all students are actively engaged in the learning.  We're able to provide both enrichment and remediation within the classroom and do so in a way that maintains the dignity of all students.  It also allows us to support our students with special needs in an environment that is more inclusive and without stigma.

In The News

Math at Atlas

Students at Atlas will engage in authentic, hands-on learning experiences co-taught by two certified math teachers, Erin Heckendorn and Dorie Ranheim. Read on to find out why we believe taking a unique approach to learning Math is best for our students!

Interested in Atlas?

Are you interested in learning more about Atlas, a new public charter elementary school for curious, creative, and compassionate kids? Or perhaps you are an applied family with a question for us. A member of our team would be happy to connect with you! Click "read full story" to get in touch with us.

KSDK Rise Up for Heroes

Co-Founders Colby Heckendorn and Genevieve Backer were recently featured on local news station KSDK's Rise Up for Heroes segment. Read on to find a link to Atlas Performing Arts Teacher Kristine Terrance's interview with Savannah Louie!

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