Dear Parents & Friends,

My hope for the creation of The Studio School has been informed greatly through dialogue with many parents who have known me from my time at Bing Nursery School (Stanford, CA), Peninsula School (Menlo Park, CA) and The Willows Nursery School (San Jose, CA). Additionally, I echo the voices of many highly skilled educators from a variety of schools that agree that too many schools are not doing what long standing educational research and theory tell us about human learning and development.

I am convinced that we, the adult citizens of our State, must address a terribly misunderstood gap between the education of our youth and the purpose of education. Essentially, the educational systems most prominent in our State propagate learning environments and teaching methods that betray the fundamental reason for education—to nurture a growth and learning mindset in people so that they themselves perpetually seek to optimize their own learning.

Most schools continue to push for superficial mastery of decomposed skills and knowledge. We should not focus on performance measures for a narrow subset of academic domains (mathematics, english-language arts, science) because these measures do not reveal authentic learning, the sort of knowledge that becomes intertwined with a person’s being and thus able to influence one’s responses to the unknowable circumstances of future problems. We should not accept that students, even those that score high on standardized tests, still struggle to apply knowledge to problems in the real world.

For too long, schools have avoided the implementation of what great pillars of thinking have pointed to as the key to strong educational experiences. At this point, our democratic society needs to educate its young citizens, from a wide range of backgrounds (cultural and socioeconomic), to be strong critical thinkers who can innovate solutions to dire and complex issues. We now know that it is in the spirit of the studio that children build deep relationships within a context of rich resources for innovation and with curriculum through hands-on experiences.

The methods in the classroom must be useful in and beyond school, for those times when students need to draw out what they know and get something useful accomplished in whatever context the matter might involve. At The Studio School students will come to view the popular domains of learning referenced in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) as necessarily integrated, and they will be on a path that synchronizes their ways of knowing with the way the human brain actually develops. By design, The Studio School will be a string of interconnected studios where students will be freed from the misguided boundaries of traditional and pseudo-progressive educational models. We will apply a wide breadth of research and theory to the school structure so that students learn all things deeply, and go onward to apply their knowledge and skills to the communities they influence. Importantly, The Studio School will bring together young students from families with diverse personal backgrounds and needs.

Seyon Verdtzabella