Below are the five pillars of Atlas’ educational philosophy. Each pillar is upheld in every element of our school design, and manifests in our work with students, families, educators, and the community.
We Celebrate Diversity & Practice Equity
At the root of our educational philosophy, we believe that all children are capable of thriving academically, emotionally, and socially, and deserve a learning environment that acknowledges who they are as a learner and takes into account their specific strengths and areas for growth. We acknowledge the importance of diversity within our classrooms and believe that every student is unique and should be celebrated for what makes them special. For example, at Atlas we celebrate diversity during community circles each day and at awards banquets that take place at the end of each academic session. We are also intentional about identifying systems of oppression and strategically working to dismantle them. At Atlas, equity means that every child receives exactly what they need to be successful, even if that varies across lines of difference, so that each individual student has an equal chance to thrive. By providing equitable outputs of time, resources, and positive experiences for students, we will work towards accomplishing educational equity so that a child’s outcome (i.e. well-being, academic proficiency, college graduation rate, future income) is not predetermined by race, socio-economic status, or any other factor.
We Learn Through Meaningful, Real-World Experiences
We seek to instill a true love of learning in each of our students that lasts well beyond their elementary school experience. At Atlas, we believe that students learn best when they are engaged in experiences that are relevant and allow them to apply their prior knowledge in meaningful ways. Through place-based education, students learn locally in the natural, built, historic, and cultural environment. By grounding the learning in real-world topics and authentic experiences, we give students the opportunity to work collaboratively, think critically, and be true problem solvers. We believe that when students are challenged, engaged in the learning, and a part of a joyful learning community that they are more likely to develop a life-long love of learning.
We Acknowledge the Power of Excellent Educators
We know and value the role quality educators play in our students’ trajectory, and believe that there is a direct correlation between teacher quality and the overall success of our students. We believe that we must recruit, develop, and retain high quality teachers who are equipped with the resources, structure, and creative autonomy needed to support all students. Teaching can be extremely challenging and educators often feel undervalued and overworked. At Atlas, we encourage our teachers to work in cycles by giving them time to reflect and grow stronger, and have developed systems for intellectual preparation, collaboration, support. These structures are designed to help ensure that each of our teachers have the skills and resources needed to be successful while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
We Hold High Expectations while Instilling a Growth Mindset
At Atlas, we know that all kids are capable of rigorous work when given the differentiation and support needed to be successful. Based on this belief, we set high expectations and lofty goals for each of our students. Our team works alongside students and their families to provide the targeted instruction our students need to accomplish their goals. That said, we know that there will still be times when our students will undoubtedly struggle. This is why we will work to instill a growth mindset in our students. Because we know that each of our students is capable of accomplishing amazing things, we will never lower the bar when a student does not reach their goal. Instead, we work as a team to reflect, strategize and determine next steps so that each of our students thrive.
We Build Community Through Partnerships
We believe that student success is a shared responsibility that requires a strong partnership between families, the community, and the school. The most important partnership Atlas has is with our families. We know that families love their children and want them to be successful. We appreciate the fact that parents and families know their children best. Together we will work to support each child so that they will learn to their fullest potential. Through partnerships with revered community organizations such as the Grand Center Arts District, Saint Louis University, and Forest Park Forever we will provide students opportunities to engage with the city and its rich resources. In addition, non-profit partners will work to provide basic resources and wraparound services to help ensure every child who attends Atlas has the foundation they need to thrive.