Our Victorian “Third Teacher”

Katherine Michiels School, 1994

Our sunny Victorian building provides a physical environment crucial to fostering learning.

“School is not just a place where you learn, but where you live.” The Reggio Emilia approach calls the learning space a child’s “third teacher.” At KMS every aspect of our facility, indoors and outdoors, becomes a teachable space’. If a student works within a “typical” classroom setting, they may only learn in typical ways.

The environment at KMS is anything but typical. Our elegant three-story classic Victorian mansion in a vibrant, historic, multi-ethnic neighborhood, with its high ceilings and large, light-filled rooms, is more than just a structure. This great home serves as a “living space” for KMS’ extended family of students, parents, teachers and staff.

The floors are organized by age but not by “grade.” As the student progresses, his/her home base moves higher within the home with freedom to attend classes on any level. Movement, not sitting, is encouraged. Natural light is abundant, the classrooms exude character and warmth like a true home that informs and engages the visitor. We believe that learning happens in many places, the classroom is one of many, so there are numerous places for students of all ages to interact.

Outside, a vegetable garden, basketball court, dirt mountain, climbing structure, trees to climb and grass area provide abundant open space for daily explorations and outdoor adventures. In this situation, the environment informs and engages the child no day is the same and mundane learning does not exist.

KMS is not only a living space, but a living gallery, with mural-covered walls, bright photographs, and rotating exhibitions of children’s art, highlighting the school’s commitment to creative expression. Through structuring our space for learning, we create an atmosphere for exploration, discovery and cross-age learning.