Plum Hill is a nurturing and supportive environment that honors childhood, engages children as active facilitators of their own learning, and promotes a lifelong sense of wonder and curiosity through playful exploration and interaction with the world around them.

Educational Philosophy

Image of the child

Children are strong, intelligent, and competent individuals with innate potential and curiosity. They possess an inborn sense of wonder that drives their desire to learn about the world around them. 


"The potential of children is stunted when the endpoint of their learning is formulated in advance."  -Carlina Rinaldi

Our child-led approach to curriculum ensures a developmentally appropriate learning experience that is tailored to the individual needs of each child. We empower children by engaging them as active facilitators of their own learning. Our teachers develop an emergent curriculum based upon their student's questions and interests. Learning is invited through child-led projects and open-ended inquiries that are rooted in play and sensory exploration.    

Role of the Teacher

"It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know, than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate." -Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder   

  • Partner In Learning: The teacher's role is not to serve as an instructor, but rather as a co-learner, investigating alongside the children and actively engaging with them in the learning process. The teacher acts as a scaffold by facilitating student's collaboration with their peers, asking thoughtful questions, engaging in reflective listening, and provoking discussions to extend learning and deepen student's understanding. 
  • Role Model: Young children learn though imitation- therefore, teachers must remain mindful in their actions and interactions with students and with other adults. Teachers should be receptive and self-reflective, full of warmth, integrity, and a love of life that is worthy of being emulated by their students.         
  • Caregiver: A secure attachment to a consistent adult caregiver is the foundation for learning and healthy development, and is essential for establishing a child's sense of trust and well-being. Teachers are responsive to the needs of their students and take time to get to know and bond with each of them individually. Our mixed-age classrooms promote consistency and healthy attachment by enabling children to remain with the same teacher for their entire time at Plum Hill.      

The Environment

Young children thrive in a home-like environment that offers beauty, comfort, security, and connection to the living world of nature.

  • Home-Like: Our mixed-age classrooms mimic the natural family unit to support children's social and emotional learning. Research indicates that [mixed-age classrooms] provide a level of intellectual stimulation that supports the development of both intellectual and academic competence, and are likely to generate greater social benefits than [same-age grouped classrooms] (Katz et. al, 1990). All ages of children benefit from mixed-age grouping. Mixed-age classrooms provide older children with the opportunity to take on mentoring and leadership roles. They offer a diverse environment in which children learn to be patient, tolerant, and helpful to others who are different from themselves. Older children build confidence and self-esteem while reinforcing their own learning and deepening understanding of academic concepts by supporting their younger peers. Younger children benefit socially, emotionally, and academically from the presence of older children as nurturers and behavioral role models they can emulate when they become the older members of a group, and from exposure to the more complex language and play of their older peers.  
  • Beautiful, Inspiring: In addition to the relationships within the environment, we take great care in the design of the physical space itself. In Reggio-Emilia, the environment is the third teacher. Much attention is given to the instructive power and layout of the space, ensuring that it fosters communication, collaboration, and exploration. We strive to maintain beautiful and inspiring classroom environments that are rich in materials and possibilities. We use natural, open-ended materials to support healthy sensory development and promote imaginative play.
  • Connection to Nature: Our close proximity to Eisenhower Park and the Highline Canal Trail affords us the ability to explore nature right here in the city. In the warmer months, children and families will have the opportunity to tend to our school garden and help care for our two goats, Poppy and Pearl.  

Our Community 

Family support and involvement is an essential component of our program. The richness of your child's educational experience depends on teachers and families working together as co-partners in their student's learning. We encourage each family to share a special skill, interest, or celebration with the children. We maintain an open line of communication with families about their child's progress, upcoming school events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways that they can support our school.