Laurence School offers traditional academics balanced with visual and performing arts, athletics, character education, coding and robotics to students in kindergarten through sixth grade, who matriculate to highly competitive secondary schools. Laurence enrolls approximately 300 students whose families come from the Valley, as well as the east and west sides of Los Angeles.
How are you preparing your students for success in the 21st century?
“Head of School Laurie Wolke shares: ‘As an administration, we spend a lot of time reading and researching, attending conferences and speaking with thought leaders across many different industries and professions to answer our question: What skills should we be teaching our children at an early age to prepare them for future success? The overwhelming answer is: communication, critical thinking, collaboration and personal presentation skills, such as public speaking.’
We begin working on these skills in kindergarten. Students practice shaking hands, making eye contact, introducing themselves, listening and asking questions that show engagement, and presenting to a group. All of these skills are essential for building confidence and learning to be an effective communicator and leader.”
How do you teach your students communication and interpersonal skills?
“‘We adapt our program to meet the developmental needs of students in each grade level,’ says Wolke. ‘Teachers develop projects and classroom activities to help students practice on a daily basis.’ Kindergarteners take on the role of classroom greeter, introducing themselves to visitors, while sixth-graders give campus tours as school ambassadors. Our Curriculum Coordinator/fifth-grade teacher, Kevin Butler, developed the Morning Cohost Show, where students lead classroom discussions about current events, share their thoughts and practice active listening.”
What opportunities do Laurence students have to practice presentation skills?
“Sixth graders present research-based passion projects to peers, teachers and family members. Additionally, students of all ages share their community service efforts at school-wide assemblies. ‘I especially love watching even our youngest students share how they run lemonade stands to support charities, plant trees, clean up beaches and give back,’ says Wolke. ‘It’s amazing to see young children speak to our community about their efforts to make their world a better place.’”