The development of our school was the most difficult, yet rewarding undertaking that all of us involved ever experienced. It has been a dream come true.
Our goal was to create an environment of learning where children could take an active role in the creation of their knowledge, interact and learn from each other, find satisfaction in their accomplishments and creative expression, with teachers who are enthusiastic and committed to instilling democratic values that support the development of civic leaders.
Lucy Sprague Mitchell in 1916 wrote a credo for the Bank Street School for Children, New York. Those words are still profound today. It speaks to developing in children a love for life long learning, curiosity about the world around them and their place in it, courage to confront challenges, accepting others and their points of view without judgment, and their role in striving to support the development of good citizens.
We have replicated that laboratory school here at Trinity and also adopted the set of those beliefs that drove that spirit.
The students at Trinity have been taught and given many tools for a successful life. Through the years, we have celebrated the achievements of our graduates as witnessed by many around the Tampa Bay area. It is a testament to all those who have touched the lives of Trinity students. They have proven to be prepared to take on any challenge and are not afraid to dream and work hard to achieve their goals.
The Heartbeat of Trinity’s Curriculum
Lucy Sprague Mitchell believed that part of making experiences educative was providing a rich but unified context for learning and that the ideal context was a geographical study. For Mitchell, it was within the study of geography that all the arts and sciences met. She felt that learning math, literature, and science could be accomplished more effectively by linking them to an active “study” instead of them just reading and memorizing facts and statistics from a textbook.
At Trinity, we continue to dedicate ourselves to the creation of a learning environment that provides children with rich and varied opportunities to study the human world and that, as such, provides a context for making meaning out of human knowledge and experience. While geography is still an essential part of all our studies, we have broadened our social studies to include cultural anthropology, history, political science, and economics. These five "social studies" in conjunction with the arts and sciences, are the core of the social studies curricula in our classrooms.
When looking at the social studies program from the youngest to the oldest children, the following themes recur with increasing complexity:
- People and their physical environment
- Community, from the family to the world
- Continuity, that is communication from generation to generation through which we build upon the past and transform the future
- Meaning through myth, religion, science, and art
- Values in the systems people develop to structure individual and group behavior
- Change as a basic fact of life
- How people solve problems and handle conflicts
Social Studies and the Learning Environment
Our classrooms are working and living representations of the scientist's laboratory and the artist's studio. From their observations, experiences, and research, children collect and record scientific data. They make and discuss hypotheses that will be subjected to further testing and analyses. As children work with the sensorial materials of art, they can image and project themselves into the time and space of the culture being studied. They are integrating and accommodating their own personal feelings and ideas with those experienced in the "here and now" of families and friends, and from the "far away and long ago" such as present day Africa, India, China, or of ancient Mexico and Egypt.
Integration of Curriculum
Not all learning at Trinity is intellectually linked to all other learning. As children grow intellectually and become reliant on thoughts and words and less bound to the evidence of their own senses, the possible directions learning can take grow enormously. No single topic can provide enough rich and varied opportunities in all the disciplines, and it would be a contrivance to force connections where none exist. Each teacher uses his own expertise to provide basic skills and understanding in his discipline. At the same time, each teacher takes into consideration what students are studying, as well as the developmental tasks and needs of the group. Throughout the grades, skills and concepts are learning that are not tied by design to a core study.
The Social Studies program at Trinity seeks to provide students with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to:
- Find answers to their questions
- Be curious, involved learners
- Understand and relate to the multicultural nature of their city, county, and world
- Function effectively as individuals, community members, and as citizens
- Understand themselves and others
- Improve the quality of their own lives and the lives of others
- Participate constructively in solving problems and conflicts
The single most important organizing principal of a Trinity education is that for children to be successful in school and to become lifelong learners, they must interact with their environment and interpret their experiences. The field studies are imbedded in the curriculum being studied at each grade level.
We explore our local community to establish our roots. We travel out into the global community to realize the role we play as part of a larger community. As a result, our students grow into responsible and informed citizens. Participation in our field study program is an important extension for our curriculum. We strongly encourage parents to join their children in exploring their surroundings and watching them learn of their importance in the world.
Our younger students learn about families and the community in which they live and their place in this community. They will experience different ways families live and work in their community by trying different foods, visiting local businesses and studying their physical environment. All experiences are linked to their classroom studies.
Our 3rd through 5th grade students will extend this curriculum by studying a larger community, a global community. They will travel outside of their local community and experience places like St. Augustine, Tallahassee, the Everglades, and Washington, D.C.
Our 6th-8th grade students will "take it up a notch” and visit New York City, the Grand Canyon, and the Marine Institute in the Florida Keys just to name a few.
All of these field studies are so important to learning. It enables the student to think outside of their backyard box and look forward to exploring the opportunities on this wonderful journey ahead of them.
An example of how this integration is achieved is with the study of water. A water study provides an opportunity for the art teacher and classroom teacher to discuss the design of a water mural that incorporates all the elements that the student has learned. The art teacher discusses shape, line, and color at those young ages as the beginning to art exposure. An art teacher takes the young child's natural artistic ability and provides further encouragement within the realm of learning about water. In addition, the Music teacher incorporates songs and music about water and the creatures that live in water that further inspires that child to make connections at a deeper level. The music teacher encourages children at this age and stage of development to recognize that music involves skills of listening, dancing, playing and singing together and as individuals within the group setting while building upon what is being learned about water. The Language teacher presents another layer for the development of the whole child. Presenting a language rich environment is important to our curriculum. The words and songs that the children learn within one study is then incorporated and further developed in other studies. The water mural and all aspects of the water study takes weeks to complete and goes through many phases of development because of the collaboration of all teachers involved but is a true representation of the ever-exploring, ever learning student.
The physical education program is designed to improve body awareness and self-esteem, to develop and refine skills and competencies to the best of each child's ability, and to develop social learning by encouraging mutual support through physical activities. The program stresses involvement and participation for all children. The hope is that their experiences at Trinity will contribute toward a lifelong love of health and physical activity.
Physical education in the Early Childhood Program is Creative Movement. Students meet with the creative movement teacher to experience the world physically by exploring with their senses and getting to know what their bodies can do. Children learn to use their bodies to express themselves imaginatively through pantomime, dancing out a story, or imitating movements in nature. Activities that emphasize repetition and variations give children the practice needed to refine and sharpen gross motor skills.
The 3rd through 5th grade students are adept at learning the rules of physical education games, and it is the responsibility of the physical education teachers to incorporate a sense of grace when playing these games competitively.
As the child moves into the upper school, the idea of sportsmanship becomes extremely important, as the students will be representing Trinity during team competitions with other schools. In addition, these 6th through 8th grade students are exposed to various sports to learn the rules of those games. While they are learning about those games in their class, they are also finding their own individual connection to the sport.
Health and nutrition is an important aspect of our Physical Education program. In light of the heightened awareness of the obesity issue in our nation, it is necessary that we take an active interest in educating children about a healthy and nutritious lifestyle that they can follow into their adult years. The physical education teachers will incorporate this part of the program within their classes.
With our eye on the development of the "whole child"; we provide a learning environment that understands the stages of growth and development in every child. With a familial partnership, we offer supportive programs to target interventions or accelerations when needed. Such programs may involve early intervention, small group instruction, and individualized and/or targeted strategies to help all children learn and maximize their potential.
Guidance Services at Trinity School for Children
The basis of our Guidance Department's work for all our students is founded in the belief that human beings can improve the community in which they live. As we attempt to navigate through life, we become "social thinkers". Through increased social and emotional awareness, we teach children to identify and express their feelings and have perspective for what others are feeling also. In developing a child's sense of self, via the developmental-interaction approach, we begin training in this philosophy from the earliest years through adolescents.
Such a mindset allows for the natural experiences of growth and learning, and the balance and significance of the consequences that follow. We facilitate the progression from early physical, body-centered communication and interaction to more constructive intercommunication later on in their development.
By providing the opportunity for social learning, children create meaning of their world based on their unique and different experiences. The end objective is for them to recognize and communicate their emotions, have others understand what they are trying to communicate and realize how their emotions affect the people around them.
Developmental Guidance Curriculum and Goals
- Understanding of the School Environment: Students will learn about their school community and what services are available to help them.
- Understanding of Self and Others: Students will learn more about their abilities, interests, personal characteristics and potential through self-assessment, self-acceptance, and self control.
- Understanding Attitudes and Behavior: The understanding of self and others gives attention to how habits, attitudes, and perceptions can affect behaviors, as well as how these behaviors and feelings are related to goals.
- Decision Making and Problem Solving: With an emphasis on personal responsibility and individual choice, the students learn to how to set goals and make responsible decisions.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Students are trained to value developing positive interpersonal relationships and learn how to communicate effectively with others.
- School Success Skills: These are designed to help students be more successful in school. This includes the development of study skills, learning behaviors, time management, conflict resolution with peers and teachers, and developing positive attitudes and habits which enable one to get the most out of school, as well as life in general.
- Career Awareness and Educational Planning: This is one of the most traditional aspects of school guidance and counseling. This goal integrates career information into the academic curriculum. The focus is to understand the world of work, career awareness, career exploration, educational plans such as preparing for future education and job searching.
- Community Pride and Involvement: Trinity programs stress the importance of community involvement in order to become responsible and productive citizens and leaders.
Specific Guidance Services
- Individual Counseling
- Small Group Counseling
- Large Group Counseling
- Peer Mentor Program
- Social/Emotional RtI Groups
- Teacher/Family Collaboration
- Academic Support
- Family/Community Service Outreach
- Support for students with 504 plans
English Language Learners (ELL) Services
The mission of Trinity's ELL program is to ensure that all second language learners have the opportunity to develop linguistically, academically, socially and cognitively to their fullest potential. This goal is accomplished by fully immersing the ELL students our core curriculum while maintaining respect for their native culture and language.
* Scaffold core curriculum instruction to meet individual linguistic needs
* Value each student's social and cultural experiences
* Provide families of ELL students with written and oral communication in their native language to the greatest extent possible
Response to Intervention (RtI)
Response to Intervention works under the core principle that we can effectively teach all students and make them successful. All RtI practices are founded on the assumption and belief that all students can learn. It is the responsibility of the school's faculty, working together, to identify the most effective curricular instructional and environmental conditions that enable learning to take place. We need to provide the necessary resources to enable all students to learn and maximize their potential.
The RtI process begins in the general education classrooms and includes all students. RtI is a general education initiative, developed at the federal level, to ensure vigorous, research-based education, enrichment and meaningful progress monitoring for all students.
Implementation Steps to RtI
Tier One: Research-based instruction happens daily for all students in general education classrooms.
Tier Two: Students that are identified through progress monitoring techniques needing specific skill reinforcement, receive a focused, supplemental approach to target their specific needs.
Tier Three: Through on-going progress monitoring, if it is identified that a student needs a more intensive approach that addresses a specific need, a more individual targeted plan of action is implemented.
Students, depending on the progress monitoring results, may move in and out of the tiers. If after a student has moved through the tiers and enough progress has not been made, we will conference with parents and decide whether or not to refer the student for ESE services.
Highlighted Skills Covered in RtI
Reading decoding, reading fluency, comprehension, math computation and problem-solving, social-emotional needs of students impacting achievement that target student work habits and personal development in the educational environment.
Exceptional Student Education (ESE)
The mission of the Exceptional Student Education Program is to challenge all learners with a variety of educational opportunities in a safe and positive environment of mutual respect and trust. Through a range of inclusive support models as well as participatory decision-making between educators, parents, and students, we are able to maintain the high standards of Trinity's rigorous curriculum and maximize each student's potential.
- Facilitate cognitive, social and emotional development
- Provide individual accommodations and support
- Educate students in the least restrictive environment
- Promote independence and self-advocacy
- Maintain high expectations for all students
- Empower parents and students by engaging them as partners in the educational process
- Academic support for students with learning disabilities
- Speech and Language therapies
- Challenge Program
The ESE educators and therapists at Trinity School for Children firmly believe that every child has the ability to achieve academic success. We understand that teaching students with different learning styles demands implementing different teaching styles. We are committed to helping students develop the skills they need in order to become strong critical thinkers, problem solvers, independent learners, and advocates of their own needs. Through careful observation and collaboration, our multidisciplinary team is able to identify which strategies and accommodations best suit each individual child's learning style in order to make him/her successful while fully participating in Trinity's rigorous core curriculum.
Speech and Language
Speech and Language acquisition is an integral part of a child's overall developmental process. Having enhancement programs that monitor children's speech and language development is imperative in assuring a child's success within the learning environment. Individualized and specialized interventions are offered to those children whose speech and/or language abilities are deemed delayed or disordered.
Interventions at Trinity are offered in a variety of ways to meet each child's unique needs:
- Individual therapy outside the general education classroom
- Small group therapy outside the general education program
- Large group therapy within the general education classroom
Trinity School for Children examines students that exhibit certain potentials for growth in a specific interest, skill set, or curricular area. From that, we create opportunities that challenge and support their development toward reaching maximum potential in the areas that they seem to demonstrate talent.
We differentiate instruction through the development of thematic units, problem solving techniques, integration of technology and other opportunities to encourage the use of multiple intelligences.
Although our overall educational programs provide for differentiation of instruction, some students require additional extension opportunities.
Through the challenge program, we strive to provide a rigorous academic environment specifically designed to meet the intellectual, creative, social, and emotional needs of gifted and talented students to produce self-directed life-long learners who will become productive citizens.