A Message from the Faculty Chair

Welcome to Steppingstone school! I am in the unique position to welcome you as the Faculty Chair, the teacher of the Pre High School classroom and as an alumna.

As a student, Steppingstone developed in me an eagerness to learn all that I could for learning’s sake. As a teacher, I hope to pass that along to my students, and as the Faculty Chair, I hope to help the other teachers of Steppingstone understand and teach the gifted students who enter through our doors in a way that will allow them to eagerly seek knowledge education and make their own way in a system that does not always cater to their unique abilities.

It is our goal to help students learn to be independent thinkers, choose their paths, and learn to manage their time. To this end, we seek to differentiate their lessons, knowing that each student is unique. We provide independent work time with challenging assignments for students to complete at their own pace while providing supplementary lessons for those who require more assistance. The students are given the freedom to choose the order in which they complete assignments and are taught the skills to do so successfully.

To this end, we use a daily planner system in which assignments are listed for students. Students meet with the teacher for lessons, but then are free choose how to complete assignments on the planner sheet. This helps students learn to manage their time effectively and experience the rewards of completing assignments in a timely manner. These planners also give parents information about what their child is doing each day, when tests are given, and suggestions for study. They also serve as a communication tool between the school and the parents.

Several long-term projects are also part of the curriculum. They teach students how to break down and manage larger projects which require research. The Social Studies Expo and the Science Fair are fall and spring events in which students learn how to present to an audience, make a presentation board, and complete a research report or student-created science experiment. In addition, the Pre High School students each learn a camping skill and create a workshop for their annual wilderness “survival” camping trip.

Since Steppingstone is unique in its methods of teaching, the methods of reporting are also unique. Instead of a grade, students are given a written evaluation that states all the curriculum that each student has completed, down to the books that were read that year as part of the independent daily reading period (Power Reading). Each teacher who has had a part in teaching a child reports on what was learned in class and how the student performed from the classroom teacher down to the Enrichment teachers who teach music, art, computer programming, and foreign languages, thus ensuring a balanced perspective. Parents also participate in two half-hour conferences in the spring and fall and are encouraged to make additional conferences as they see fit.

This boils down to a system for producing happy, educated, independent, creative thinkers, and problem-solvers who have the chance to become successful, educated, and creative adults. We hope that you come see what a difference a challenge can make to the motivation of a gifted child! Keiko Morse, Pre High School Teacher (Grades Six through Eight) and Faculty Chair

Akaba Model

We deliver our course material using the Akaba model of differentiated education. Named after the founder’s father, Kenji Akaba, this method of curriculum design and course delivery has evolved over the last 27 years of teaching gifted learners at Steppingstone. This model provides maximum flexibility for teachers by accommodating the unique cognitive, physical, social and emotional aspects of the gifted learner.

In most school settings, students are advanced by age. This often impedes gifted learners who may be academically one or more years ahead of their peers. Likewise, advancing students academically so that they are removed from their social group can create emotional stress and uneven personal development.

We organize our students into small multi-age/multi-grade developmental classrooms of approximately 15 students each. Core subjects (math, spelling, and reading), however, are instructed in even smaller (one to six students) ability groups. This allows teachers maximum flexibility to accommodate each student’s academic needs while ensuring that students are nurtured socially and emotionally with their age-related peers.