The Soulard School is a little bit different. Students, teachers and parents call each other “friends,” the kids actually look forward to coming to school every morning, and shoes are left at the door. When it came time to clean up the old boiler room in their building and turn it into something useful, the students teamed up and got to work, making something from nothing. The community makes The Soulard School what it is. Your contribution will make it what it can be.The Journey Begins
Beginning as an independent neighborhood preschool, The Little School and Gym opens in the fall with 4 students, at the corner of 13th and Ann streets in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis, MO.
In response to the needs of its families, The Soulard School opens its doors as an extension of the preschool. 14 students, kindergarten through 2nd grade, begin attending class in a closed-down church school. Its mission is to build a warm, welcoming community in which children and adults are encouraged to ask questions and broaden their understandings of themselves, others, and the world.
After the first round of renovations are complete, The Soulard School relocates to its current home at 11th and Victor streets, in a former public school building constructed in 1958. Building rehab continues thanks to major contributions from parents and the wider community.
The Soulard School completes the renovation of its building, including the transformation of the parking lot into an outdoor classroom. It is now the only neighborhood elementary school in Soulard serving students from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade.
The Soulard School graduates its founding class to a variety of St. Louis’s best middle schools, including public, parochial, private, charter, and magnet. Development begins for creating a dedicated space at the school supporting the integration of STEAM.
Now serving over 100 students, The Soulard School serves as a regional, model school for PreK-6 education. Guided by dedicated teachers and supported by an involved parent community, The Soulard School creates an atmosphere of continuous enthusiasm for learning where students thrive socially, emotionally, and academically. The key to the success of The Soulard School is Qualitative Education, which incorporates research in every aspect of the learning institution. This approach respects children’s natural curiosity and puts the student in the role of researcher in their learning.
The STEM initiative is part of a national movement to provide students with a strong connective education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The role of these areas in the 21st century cannot be overstated. STEM education, which gained national attention in 2009 with the launch of President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, is designed to revolutionize teaching by integrating subjects within a curriculum. It attempts to transform the classroom from a teacher-centered model to an experiential learning model that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, and exploration – in a word, research.
Technology is often cited as the STEM component that provides innovative ways to solve problems. More accurately, though, it is the arts and design that improve innovative, creative, and critical thinking. Technology education, while crucial in 21st century education, is only one piece of this. When combined with the arts, the integration is made complete, from STEM to STEAM. The Soulard School, with its Qualitative Educational approach, has a vertical curriculum that is already highly integrated. There the arts play a central role, as evidenced by its Strings, Studio Arts, and Culinary Arts programs. At The Soulard School, there is no STEM without the arts.
Now in its 8th year, The Soulard School is working to build a dedicated space for the integration of STEAM. The construction of a state-of-the-art STEAM Lab, the first of its kind in St. Louis, will be an opportunity for the school to both highlight and continue to invest in its established curriculum. Located at the very heart of the building itself, the space will include a wet lab, art studio, computer lab, music space, engineering & design center, and even an extensive rooftop garden with stairway access. The expedition has begun with fundraising efforts led by the students themselves. Through events, donation jars, and support from their community, the students are working together to raise funds to contribute to their STEAM Lab. So far, their efforts have brought in $300. But they cannot do it alone.
The total STEAM Lab construction cost is $98,000, which includes $60,000 for renovation costs, and $38,000 to furnish the lab. In addition to the students’ efforts, The Soulard School has worked to secure grants from local foundations and individuals for the renovation, design, and furnishing of the lab. The school’s goal is to complete the STEAM Lab by September 2013, with Phase I beginning in July 2012 and Phase II beginning in March 2013.
So far, $15,000 has been raised or approved for Phase I of the project, from St. Louis Housing Development Corporation, Dr. William Danforth, Soulard School families, and supportive individuals in the community. The school is continuing to look to the school board, school families, foundations, and neighborhood businesses for funding.
But a project of this magnitude requires all hands on deck. They need your support in helping them to reach their goal of raising $83,000 by February 2013. Get involved by making a general donation, or providing in-kind donations of materials or services.
To make an in-kind donation, high-dollar contribution, or inquire about naming rights please contact The Soulard School Executive Director Kelly Bock.
Your contributions will go to new equipment, software, and supplies.