Why Ambleside?

Why choose Ambleside?  Below you’ll find a common list of questions we are asked on a regular basis.

What does Ambleside School Adirondack’s NYS Charter mean:

A provisional or absolute charter is simply an educational incorporation in New York State. This is necessary because, though we are an independent Christian school, we are not formally affiliated with any particular church or denomination whose incorporation we could share. Our charter application was reviewed and approved by town and local school officials, and the building declared safe by public authorities before being granted by New York State. We are not a charter school in the sense that we are state-funded.

Does Ambleside School Adirondacks use Common Core standards?

Ambleside students under a tree

Ambleside is not limited to the Common Core standards. Students at Ambleside School Adirondacks are given a broad curriculum which uses whole literature and fosters deep, critical thinking skills. Our goal is not to educate for a job but for life as a whole. Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College expresses simply: “Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more…Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become – as Common Core openly declares – preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.” Here at Ambleside we focus on growth in mastery of academic and interpersonal habits and skills, knowing that achievement follows that mastery. However, a singular focus on short-term achievement may not result in desirable character formation.

Why do you not give grades?

Actually, at Ambleside we give much more than grades. Teachers assess students daily in narration and conduct, and weekly in math and writing. Our students receive an extensive narrative evaluation of their academic as well as their character development twice a year. In addition, twice yearly our students have essay exam periods that serve as important tools that we use to evaluate the progress of the student’s education. The reports of progress and the exams are further supplemented by parent-teacher conferences where the parent and teacher together discuss the child’s strengths and weaknesses and strategize ways to partner to improve the student overall. At Ambleside, our goal is to see the child stay an engaged learner who is more interested in gaining knowledge than in getting a good grade. Our effort goes toward challenging students to give best work. Knowing how to do best work, and what constitutes best work, is a renewable resource when contrasted with the temporary, endgame satisfaction that is felt when a student receives the grade they wanted. Students do not ask whether they need to know particular information; instead they engage in the process of learning: In an atmosphere of friendly support, they do work that is interesting and challenging to them in personal and meaningful ways.

What curriculum does Ambleside use:

We use a collection of the best editions of the richest books that has been assembled by a team of international educators. Each year our resources are further critiqued and evaluated through a collaborative effort of all schools within the Ambleside Schools International network. Our curriculum includes classical literature, biographies, poetry, and primary source materials in addition to two well-known math programs: One that emphasized conceptual understanding and the other computational strength. The few textbooks we use are well-recognized.

How does Ambleside challenge the gifted child:

Our books contain rich vocabulary and complex ideas. We cover over 15 subjects each week, and the curriculum at Ambleside is challenging for student and adult alike. We do not define students by their gifted areas, instead seeking to educate the whole person, strengths and weaknesses alike. We do not advance students if they are gifted in a particular area, but we do have many strategies and resources to challenge them in the classroom. We are founded on the belief that all children can take away something from the rich feast of ideas that we set before them; if the food for the mind is nourishing and abundant, the gifted mind will flourish all the more.

How is Ambleside an integrated school community:

All of the school’s children enjoy assembly, meals, and recess together daily, and chapel weekly. School concerts are often integrated. The older students are given opportunities to serve in the younger classrooms. All students and teachers are held to the same high standards of relationship as seen in the person and character of Jesus Christ. We are realistic about the problems we experience being human, and grievance procedures exist, should they be needed to facilitate fellowship

Do you require New York State teacher certification?

No. Ambleside teachers undergo extensive pedagogical training and enjoy ongoing professional development. Elementary teachers at Ambleside are required to hold a bachelor’s degree and we consider a master’s degree to be a plus.

What guidelines do you have in hiring teachers?

In addition to an undergrad degree, teachers must be creative and thoughtful learners who hold broad interests and educational knowledge. Ambleside teachers are able to master and teach their subjects without the usual educational aids and lesson guides. Teachers at Ambleside are willing to learn and faithfully employ the pedagogy of Charlotte Mason. Teachers who read regularly, enjoy ideas, and are willing to adapt to our challenging approach thrive at Ambleside.

Are you accredited?

Ambleside is associated with Ambleside Schools International, an accredited organization of educators who monitor and support other schools like us in the US and abroad. The quality and integrity of our curriculum is evaluated annually. Ambleside School of the Adirondacks is not formally accredited, but we consider this to be one of our long range goals.

How do you use technology in the Ambleside classroom?

We use it only when it works to support the education the children are receiving from books. It is rarely, if ever, used in the preschool classroom. Our classrooms focus on the kind of education the student will not receive elsewhere: good books, writing, neat calculations, time for free play, interaction with the natural world, and exposure to a vast wealth of knowledge.

What is narration?

Why is it emphasized so much? Narration is simply “telling back” whatever has been read, seen, or heard. A student who narrates is asked to use the author’s own language, sequence, and details in their retelling, not in a parroted way but in a way that makes the material their own. Narration is used in all subjects, including the disciplinary ones. Narration is a simple yet powerful tool for the development of the mind. As a result, children learn to acquire knowledge from books; select, sort, and classify ideas; supply both the question and the answer; visualize, express themselves readily, fluently and with vitality; assemble knowledge into a form that can criticize, hold an opinion, or bring one thought to bear upon another. We narrate – in some way – most lessons. Examples of narration include using manipulatives to illustrate equivalent fractions; diagramming the parts of a dissected mushroom; or providing examples of “prevarication” in a class on ethics.

How do you handle doctrinal differences in the classroom:

At Ambleside we give focus to the Bible, not a particular doctrinal persuasion. Ambleside will always direct students to ask their parents for clarification on finer doctrinal points, and encourage all students to practice the principles of love, kindness, and gentleness towards all.

What is the parent’s role in the Ambleside Community:

Parents will find a number of ways in which they can become a meaningful component of life at Ambleside. From our All-School luncheons, concerts, parent study nights, and yearly golf scramble, we welcome and rely upon the support and involvement of our families. We have a policy of transparency, and parents are welcome in our school at any time to come and be a part of our learning atmosphere.

What Parents Are Saying

I am continually impressed with the foundational learning that your curriculum provides your students. They are given the tools they need to learn anything they choose.

We appreciate the teachers and their love for the children. Treating our children with respect and coming alongside them and helping with weaknesses in an encouraging way. We are thrilled with the varied and interesting subject matter they encounter each day at Ambleside. So rich and engaging. We are thankful that each day they are challenged to see beauty and substance in their subjects. God is at the center, and that is the most important. We truly love our school!