Our Approach

The Co-op School uses a constructivist approach, meaning that each student’s individual experience makes learning unique to them. We value and nurture these  different needs and interpretations, and base our curriculum on five core beliefs: 

  • Joy Is essential: Through joyful learning, students become life-long learners and creative thinkers
  • Creativity Requires Passion: Students need to feel enthusiasm to tap into their talent.
  • Context Matters: When learning is embedded in meaningful contexts, students are invested in finding answers. 
  • The Whole Child Learns: Our students are supported emotionally, socially, physically, and intellectually.
  • We Work in Community: Students think individually and work collaboratively, learning to share ideas respectfully.

Our Philosophies in Practice

Our inquiry-based social studies projects are a strong example of how our philosophies apply in the classroom and build on learning from previous years’ studies. These projects look closely at subjects like identity and family trees (first grade) to migration patterns in New York (third grade), and westward expansion, and freedom and slavery (5th grade). Along the way, the projects evolve through questioning, exploration, and critical thinking, as well as student-led debates. Teachers ask provoking questions and act as facilitators while empowering students to take leadership roles. For a more detailed look at how these projects unfold, visit our Lower School and Academic Events pages.


At the Co-op school, learning and progress are shared throughout the community. We use documentation to collect and share information and observations and display these throughout the school where parents, faculty, staff and students can view and share them. Documentation takes the form of photographs, artwork, narratives, and samples of our work. They can spark conversation, reinforce our students’ memories and validate their hard work, and serve as a point of pride for faculty, parents, and students alike. 

Town Halls

Every month, our school comes together in a Town Hall to celebrate each of our school’s core values: Compassion, Uniqueness, Innovation, Community Action, Anti-racism, and Joy. Students and staff perform skits, sing songs that focus on the month’s core value. We also hold Open Mics, where students are invited to share their talents—a song, a dance, or even a knock-knock joke. In the winter and spring, our music teacher and students perform classics along with original songs written in collaboration, including our very own school song.