Upon entering Kittredge School, it becomes immediately apparent that something special is taking place. There
is a quiet buzz; there are smiles, and a recognizable sense of order. Teachers and students are moving about.
Sharing is evident, people listen to each other. Student work is visible throughout the building, as are
multiple photographs of student activities. Property is respected as are ideas. Students have obvious
responsibilities. Few rules are posted, yet appropriate behavior is obvious and consistent. All in all there
is a calmness, caring, and empathy in each classroom, the playground as well as the office. It is instantly
recognized that everyone, students and teachers alike want to be there.
Exciting and wonderful things can happen when a group of people come together and find they share a common
set of values, a common group of underlying beliefs. Those beliefs and values are manifested in the
school's Mission Statement, "Challenging academics in a warm and nurturing environment." That
statement is apparent on the school walls, the school publications and web site and apparently in the minds
of each staff member. In fact that statement continues today to help the school translate an intuitive mutual
understanding into a functional, recognizable, working educational program that amongst other things fosters
a consistent philosophy: human beings by nature are caring, thoughtful, loving and empathetic. They are not
aggressive, mean or thoughtless. This newer theory, beginning to be recognized by science, embraces the
concepts of relationships, cooperation, affection, personal meaning and empathy as indicators of the human
Young and Lavaroni agree that here are many elements that have contributed to the schools current sense of
When asked, "How do you explain the great accomplishments you two have achieved?"
"Certainly being small is part of it"
While that might be true, it cannot and is not the only answer. Yes, the teacher pupil ratio is less than
eight to one. But actually, in spite of its size Kittredge offers multiple and varied learning opportunities
for the students. There are credentialed teachers for Art, Physical Education, Music and Performing Arts, and
the Spanish Language. There are inter-school sports teams, field trips, out-door educational programs with
the Yosemite Institute. There is an after school study program along with several special ones that meet the
interests of students. Computers are available for use by students. There are teacher aides and competent
playground supervisors. The Parents Organization provides a strong financial and emotional support system.
And, integral to all of this both Young and Lavaroni see themselves as teachers. Possibly the most important
of all they see themselves as learners.
Young and Lavaroni agree that many elements have contributed to the current sense of well being that envelops
the school. Their leadership style encompasses their deep belief in the school's Mission Statement,
developed at the time of its reincarnation in 1995 in concert with the staff and parents. The continuity of
the staff is verification of the continued efforts of the school to live up to that statement. It is that
trust between the leadership and the staff that makes for the sense of teamwork that surrounds the school.
The administration, teachers and staff are a team. They are individuals who collectively respect both their
individuality and simultaneously their mutual responsibility to the school and the students. They share and
encourage each other's creativity. They are willing to identify potential problems, assist in solving
them and support children as they too become problem solvers. Every teacher, staff member, administrator and
owner is proud of his responsibilities as a teacher, learner, communicator, program assessor and evaluator,
record keeper, and team member. All share in the joy of being learners. All get strength from each other. All
share in the significance of family that permeates the building. All feel the sense of being respected as
members of a community
It is as teachers and learners that these two educators, Young and Lavaroni have put into place many
interesting policies, effective activities, and motivating behaviors that have led to the establishment of
the caring and empathic community we call Kittredge School today. When asked how they were able to bring
about such a quality environment, they listed the following as possible reasons, in no order of importance.
- Standardized test are used NOT for labeling, but instead for helping make appropriate decisions about
teaching and learning.
- Classroom teachers are actively involved in determining which students are admitted to the school
- Teachers and staff members are invited to continue their personal growth and are encouraged to take
classes and workshops paid for by the school.
- Every teacher is provided the sum of $1000 from the Kittredge Parents Association to be used by the
teacher to enhance the learning program.
- The Principal greets every automobile before school and at the end of the school daily to personally
welcome and send off each student.
- A high grade of coffee is always available in the staff room as well as a weekly warm lunch provided at
no cost to the staff members.
- Friday staff meeting, with agendas including room for staff suggestions always end with the question,
"What were your highlights of the week?"
- Each teacher is provided a "web-page" for his/her use to communicate with students and parents.
- All students are encouraged to become better managers of their own learning through the school wide use
of two programs, Character Counts and Habits of Mind.
- Graduates are constantly in touch. The school and the office are frequently being visited by former
students currently in high school or college or beyond.
- Time is provided for the personal needs of staff members for special occasions and emergencies other than
for reasons of health.
- Staff birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days are celebrated with parties, classroom assistance,
and public recognition
- Student birthdays are recognized in a variety of ways including a "public humiliation"
celebration led by the principal.
- The principal frequently substitutes for any staff member when that person has a need to be away from
regular responsibilities for a period of time.
- The principal and staff consistently model their belief in the power of humour in their interactions with
students, teachers and parents.
Taken together, the little things listed above, combined with the huge life force found at Kittredge makes
this small school a very big presence in the lives of all the children, teachers and parents involved.
Lavaroni and Young as teachers first, have become true Educational Entrepreneurs who have made a difference.
For this we at The International Academy for Educational Entrepreneurism proudly name them: THE EDUCATIONAL
ENTRPRENEURS FOR 2012.