Stratford School is an independent private school founded in 1999 by educator Sherry Adams in Danville, California. Since then Stratford has grown to 26 campuses, including three in the Valley. In addition to its academic courses, the school offers a variety of after-school clubs.
In what ways is your school extraordinary?
“We believe high expectations lead to extraordinary results. Beginning in preschool, we apply our innovative and intentionally balanced curriculum in order to inspire and nurture the hearts and minds of every student. We infuse our curriculum with sequential instruction in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) to help students develop the diverse set of problem-solving skills and talents they will need in this changing world. Our passionate teachers cultivate a secure and nurturing classroom environment where children feel safe and eager to try new things and learn through hands-on discovery. This strong foundational approach challenges students, accelerates achievement, and prepares our students to become tomorrow’s creative problem-solvers, imaginative innovators, insightful thinkers and confident leaders.”
How does your school empower kids and give them a voice?
“We support student voices by creating classrooms that are rich and immersive in language. Key elements of supporting student voices include:
Establishing relationships: Our teachers develop relationships with each child in order to understand interests, motivations and challenges. Classroom environments are a place where children feel safe to ask questions, take risks and fail forward.
Building necessary skills: Children often need to learn and practice speaking and listening skills. We model language and provide students time to express opinions, ask questions and develop tone through classroom discussions, songs, poems, stories and play.
Sharing prior knowledge: Before engaging in learning experiences, children are encouraged to share what they know or wonder. Building upon and incorporating prior student knowledge into activities honors their unique experiences.
Modeling listening: Teachers model and teach active listening to allow students opportunities to listen to each other. It is challenging to use your voice if no one is listening!
Incorporating voice in stories: While reading stories to children, we ask questions related to voice: What do you think the main character is thinking? What questions would you like to ask one of the characters? If you were a character in the book, what would you say? How do you think the character’s voice sounds? Cultivating this supportive environment encourages students to be actively involved in their own learning by asking questions, sharing insights and providing their opinions.”
Does your school give kids a window into other cultures?
“We believe our classrooms should be described as full of windows and mirrors. Students should see themselves reflected in the classroom (mirrors) and also have opportunities to learn more and see into the lived experiences of others (windows). Our early learners’ emerging identities are supported as we affirm and respect who they are while teaching them how to respect and affirm others. Windows and mirrors are often taught through story, discussions and representation within the classroom environment. Stories provide a great opportunity for students to see themselves while also experiencing new cultures, places and perspectives. We also want families to be an extension of the classroom, and our classroom reflects authentic representations of our students and their families.”
Do you offer bilingual or online programs?
“We are passionate about learning at all levels. This commitment to always improving has enriched our premier educational offerings to meet the growing demand from our families. In this spirit, we enhance academic programs and explore new opportunities that allow our students to continue to grow and thrive. Two hallmark programs include Stratford Mandarin Bilingual Preschool and Online Academy.
Our Mandarin Bilingual Preschool program builds upon foundational knowledge, skills and concepts in our core STEAM curriculum and provides culturally enriching activities that promote Mandarin language acquisition. Eager bilingual learners also enjoy new school experiences while developing socialization skills. We’ve created an immersive bilingual environment designed to promote consistency and continuity for young learners. Stratford’s advanced curriculum is taught by speaking and instructing in Mandarin and English. This team-teaching approach creates an inclusive and responsive space in which individual needs are met, ensuring students feel safe and secure to explore, take risks and learn without limits. Our Stratford Mandarin Bilingual Preschool program is available at Stratford School in Altadena and West Los Angeles.
We’ve encompassed the rigor, richness, continuity and connection that are hallmarks of Stratford School’s intentionally designed curriculum to provide a fully aligned, virtual learning experience with Stratford Online Academy. It features small class sizes; specialty teachers for music, Spanish and PE; and a learning approach complete with uniform pacing that’s aligned with our students’ on-campus experience. We offer this while engendering a sense of community for our online students and their families. Most importantly, our teachers are experienced and well trained in online teaching methods to deliver an engaging, personalized approach for each student throughout the virtual school day.”