So many wonderful things make Aurora what it is. What follows are some highlights of Aurora’s unique programs.
Being a K-5 school empowers the staff to focus on the K-5 curriculum in a cohesive and thoughtful way. The small size of our school offers families the opportunity to become part of a safe, caring school community. You will often see children of all ages playing together on our yard. Our 4/5 students are the big brothers and sisters at Aurora. They get to be the leaders of the school. Because our graduates leave Aurora as pre-adolescents, Aurora maintains its elementary school feel.
Social Emotional Education
Children and adults learn best when they are secure and confident in their inter and intra-personal relationships. A primary goal for all Aurora community members is to develop and sustain a respectful, cooperative and supportive environment that is the foundation for learning and independent thinking. The name given to the affective aspect of the Aurora curriculum is Inside/Out. The focus of Inside/Out is to help students develop the social-emotional life skills they need to be successful in and out of the classroom. Formal and informal classroom meetings focus on the Inside/Out curriculum as well as planned activities. Resources include but are not limited to: Positive Discipline, Playworks, The Responsive Classroom, and Talk It Out.
Students at Aurora have the opportunity to participate in stage performance. Performances vary by classroom and are directly connected to the curriculum. Students learn to work together to create a project much bigger than themselves, engaging in their own creative process of shaping the material they are learning. They learn basic dramatic skills including: voice projection, intonation, improvisation, elements of choreography, physical expression and spatial awareness. The children also learn to be comfortable speaking and performing in front of an audience.
Students at Aurora experience a variety of specialist classes outside of their academic arena: music, art, library, woodshop, PE, computers, yoga, and Spanish. At Aurora, specialists work in collaboration with classroom teachers to integrate curricula further enriching classroom curricula. Learn more about Aurora’s outstanding specialist program.
Service Learning & Community Service
By getting outside the classroom and engaging with the world beyond our walls, Aurora students learn to see themselves as empowered actors and citizens. One element of this engagement is the service learning projects done annually in classrooms. Often tied to the curriculum and inspired by students, these projects have in common the practical application of knowledge gained in the classroom and subsequent reflection about how that knowledge plays out in the so-called “real world”. This year, members of the Lunchtime Service Club, are partnering with Free the Children, a global organization started by a twelve year old in 1995, to “Adopt a Village” in Northern India. Free the Children’s mission is about inspiring youth to make real change in the world. In years past, students and families at Aurora also supported the Alameda County Community Food Bank, UNICEF, among other student-led efforts during the year.
For the duration of the school year, twice a month, Aurora students are buddied up with an Aurora student who is not in their grade level. School-wide cross grade groupings occur at this time while students build school-wide friendships with children who are not in their classrooms. Together they engage in social-emotional curricula and community service activities while building a sense of family.
Throughout the year, students at Aurora have the opportunity to come together across and within grade levels to explore an area such as social studies or science through art. Students visit every classroom and work with each teacher on lessons as diverse as creating an all school poem or learning about community through drama, literature, mindfulness, and movement. Integrated Art helps strengthen the Aurora community and gives all students a chance to interact with each other in meaningful ways.
Every Tuesday morning, the entire school gathers for a 15-minute session in the auditorium. The assembly is devoted to singing a varied repertoire of American folk and popular traditional, as well as multi-cultural songs from around the world. Assembly is also a time to welcome outside guests, watch our own student performers, and share in a “mindful” moment as a community.
Learning Resource Department
The Learning Resource department at Aurora offers support to students, faculty and parents in order to enhance student success. Aurora School is able to assist students who need extra help at different times in their development. We find that our child-centered curriculum and flexible approach to individual timelines of development leads to high self-esteem and long term success. Many children simply need more time and/or multiple ways to connect with concepts and content. To meet this goal, Aurora has one full time learning specialist and one part time learning specialist.
Aurora students’ educational experience goes beyond the classroom walls. Student learning is expanded through field trips that are directly linked to their classroom social studies and/or science curricula. Students of all ages venture out on field trips. Parents make these field trips possible by driving and chaperoning students.
Rumpus was created as a safe place for students to express themselves physically. During rumpus we take out mats and have safe wrestling matches with an adult referee and clear safety guidelines. Students are often told to use their words. Because for many children physical communication is more comfortable and necessary, we have created a safe place for this alternative type of communication. It is our hope that children will realize there are safe spaces for this type of physical expression and that sometimes it is okay to not use your words to communicate. Upon its introduction in 2010, rumpus quickly became a place for students to learn how to say “NO” when they were uncomfortable with a situation and to set clear boundaries for themselves and others. Our K-3 students can choose to attend Rumpus sessions once a week during lunch recess or during choice time.