The atmosphere of a school, the spirit that is breathed in and out by students and teachers alike, is important to a child's education. Children are perceptive. They naturally pick up on what the adults think is important; the atmosphere tells them and they adjust. We must, therefore, give great care to the atmosphere we allow to exist in our school.
The RiverTree atmosphere is one in which learning is highly valued, for its own sake. We do not strive after the approval of the teacher or the reward of a good mark, a smiley face, or a gold star. Nor do we seek in our schooling to impress, or to win; it is not a competition. Rather, we learn because it is good to know and a delight to the mind and soul. A child who masters a mathematics concept should feel the joy that comes from understanding, the satisfaction of a job well done. She should not feel shame because she was slower than her classmates, or, even worse, pride because she was fastest.
The atmosphere here should feel natural. It should remind you more of a home than of a typical school. That is because we are not interested in getting children through a system, but rather in preparing them for life. We do not seek to create a hot-house school environment in which students blossom, but are constitutionally unprepared for life outside the schoolhouse walls. Children at RiverTree should encounter life as it is. We will allow them their struggles because these lead growth and strength. The teachers are there to support because the children are young and weak, but they are not to remove all the bumps from the road of life.
Most of all, our atmosphere is pervaded by the love and lordship of Christ. We, like our students, are under divine authority and are subject to His teaching. Most importantly, this means we recognize that our students are people. Despite their need to become stronger, more knowledgable, and wiser, they are nevertheless imbued with the image of God like everyone else. We will not treat them as products, outputs, or empty vessels to be filled; we have not the right. The child is a person in need of intellectual nourishment. He must be fed the best food we can find, in as much quantity as he needs. If we do this, he will surely grow strong.