Academics and Curriculum
Mission Statement: Education at Swarthmore-Rutledge School prepares our young people for their present and future lives by fostering a positive academic climate and a spirit of community. We provide a rich and challenging educational program which develops a broad knowledge base and builds strength of character. This will enable our students to successfully contribute to a diverse society in a changing world.Math: The WSSD is committed to delivering a rigorous math curriculum which meets the requirements of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as well as the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. This year grades K-5 are beginning their use of the Math in Focus program, initiated in grades 6-8 during the last academic year. Math in Focus builds student understanding of math concepts through experience and problem solving. The program is a focused, coherent curriculum, that unfolds math concepts in a deliberate order so that students have the opportunity to develop ownership of each math concept in depth before studying more sophisticated math concepts. Each math concept is developed through a philosophy of concrete experience leading to visual understanding and then abstraction. An equal emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding and fluency with skills. Through the use of concrete and pictorial representations, students are provided with the tools needed to work through multi-step and non-routine problems.Language Arts: The language arts program, which is aligned with Pennsylvania Academic Standards, uses a balanced and integrated approach to teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Instruction is geared to support students' individual needs, interests, and learning styles. Reading is taught using the Houghton-Mifflin reading program "A Legacy of Literacy" in grades one through three. Students read a wide range of non-fiction and fiction (including novels) across all grade levels. Writing instruction empowers students to become effective, engaged, and reflective writers who view writing as a form of communication that is necessary, meaningful, and pleasurable. Students are taught to use a writing rubric to develop focus, content, organization, style, and conventions. Across the grade levels, students are instructed to write poetry, narrative, expository, and persuasive pieces, which may be integrated with library research. Students in kindergarten through third grade learn printing and cursive writing using the Handwriting Without Tears program.Social Studies: The curriculum addresses themes of self, community, geography, history, civics, and economics. Components include factual content, skills, experiences, perspectives, and values. Our social studies program meets the standards of the National Council for the Social Studies. In the primary grades, students explore the themes of neighborhoods and communities within the framework of the hands-on, interactive Nystrom program. In fourth and fifth grades, students learn about United States geography and history using the Houghton-Mifflin social studies program.Science: Classroom science instruction is kit-based and reflects a constructivist, hands-on approach to science learning. In grade one, students are introduced to the concept of weather and how it affects their lives, and they investigate the properties of common solids and liquids. In grade two, students expand their understanding of solids, liquids, and gases and investigate changes in state. They also study the life cycles of insects and the stages of metamorphosis. In grade three, students observe the stages in the life cycle of a plant, and they explore the differences and similarities between rocks and minerals. Land, water, and electrical circuits are the focus of study in grade four. Fifth grade students study ecosystems and cell structure.Technology: Technology education consists of weekly instruction in the computer lab and experience working with computers in the classrooms. Computer use is integrated across the curriculum. Computer instruction includes computer identification skills, application skills, keyboarding skills, creating databases, creating spreadsheets, using painting/drawing tools, using multimedia tools, conducting research/accessing information, exploring related ethical issues, and exploring telecommunications.
The Four Cornerstones: Our character education program has been built around four cornerstones: Kindness, Manners, Courage, and Self-Control. Helping children understand how their actions, both constructive and destructive, impact others is embedded in every aspect of our character education program. We believe that our students must recognize the connections between actions, decisions, and consequences. The Four Cornerstones program provides students opportunities to learn and grow, not only from successes, but also from mistakes.
The Olweus Bully Prevention Program: Swarthmore-Rutledge School has a comprehensive, schoolwide bully prevention program. The Bully Prevention Coordinating Committee plans and monitors our bully prevention program. This committee is made up of faculty representatives from grades one through five. In the spring of each school year, an anonymous bully questionnaire is administered in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. An analysis of the survey results helps to determine many of our bully prevention efforts for the following school year.
Because of this program, we have provided increased supervision in areas of our school that are hot spots for bullying. We have a unified and systematic enforcement of schoolwide rules and consequences related to bullying. On a daily basis, we continue to reinforce and recognize pro-social behaviors such as kindness, manners, self-control and courage -- the four cornerstones of the Swarthmore-Rutledge community.
All-School Meetings: Sharing music and gathering as a community are strong traditions and values at Swarthmore-Rutledge School. These meetings foster self-motivation for moral action and responsible decision making. Student skits, songs, and theme-appropriate poetry and literature are presented in a way that offers students an opportunity for reflection and growth. Exemplary student work reflecting Swarthmore-Rutledge School's core values and individuals' moral actions are frequently highlighted.