“There’s a school out there for every family,” Smith says. He notes, however, that “it is hard for a school to be all things to all people.” He recommends that families make a list of their own top five priorities and use that to guide their search. Finding a school that does those five things exceptionally well will be a better fit than a school that tries to do everything.
“It’s difficult to know exactly what the future will look like,” says Kate Cicchelli, principal at Bennett Day School in Chicago’s West Loop. “Tomorrow’s leaders will need to be nimble, adaptive and strong collaborators.”
Bennett Day School provides a nurturing environment and learning community that fosters depth of knowledge, adaptive academic and social skills, physical well-being, and drive to ask and answer questions. The curriculum is designed to advance development in five primary educational outcomes: academic skills; communication and collaboration; innovation and meta-cognition; social responsibility; and advancement to continued education.”
“Over a year later, I know I am a better mother because of the work I do. I try to teach Bea to love what she does, to seek what she wants from life, and to find the people who can help her make that happen. Now I have Bea, the love of my life, and Bennett Day, the professional opportunity of a lifetime. I go to work every day ready for the challenges. Every day isn’t perfection, but I’m not interested in perfection. I like the mess….” – Kate Cicchelli, Principal and Co-Founder of Bennett Day School
These are exciting times in the field of early childhood education. Creative teachers are discovering effective ways to offer children a healthy blend of sensory-rich tactile investigations, artistic creativity, meaningful collaborations, and high-tech tools geared toward problem solving and documenting a child’s work/play.
“Imagine a school where children as young as three can tinker with and master materials aligned with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math). That ideal drove former venture capitalist Cameron Smith and veteran independent school educator Kate Cicchelli to open Bennett Day School…”
“Bennett teachers are using a Montessori-like approach to education, called Reggio Emilia. The school also has a TinkerLab – a Silicon Valley trend that emerged from the Maker movement that believes people should be creators, not consumers…”
“Bennett Day School is growing very quickly, adding a grade a year through eighth grade. They’re currently in Fulton Market, but they’re converting a giant, beautiful old building on Grand Avenue into an awesome high-tech school. (PDF)
Creating an Extraordinary Education, Chicago Life With the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Chicago Life
“In the spirit of Malaguzzi and Progressive Education, Chicago educator Kate Cicchelli and visionary Cameron Smith co-founded the Bennett Day School, an independent, Reggio inspired, K-8th grade school…”
“When he was named to Oy!Chicago and JUF’s Young Leadership Division’s inaugural 36 under 36 list, Cameron Smith had only dreamed of what the next great Chicago day school would look like. Two years later, the school has not only opened its doors, but quickly become a bustling learning environment…”
“Bennett Day School, which opens late this month in Chicago’s West Loop, plans to offer the self-guided Reggio Emilia learning approach to students in early childhood through middle school…” (PDF)
“Smith plans to open the flagship campus by the fall of 2016. Like the Grand location, it will use the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. The approach was developed in post-WWII Italy and gives students some control over their course of study, gets parents closely involved, and makes sure students have access to lots of natural light and common areas called piazzas. In addition, the building will have a full-size gym, multiple TinkerLabs, and over 10,000-square-feet of green space…” (PDF)