Here at Ventana, in true Reggio Emilia fashion, we put children first. While others claim to educate the “whole child” we intentionally structure our program so that it shapes our children from the inside out. We attend to the social and emotional aspects of learning all day, every day, in authentic context. If there is a conflict, we unwrap it and take the time to examine, reflect, and work toward resolution. 

It is clear from educational research that academic learning cannot take place in an environment that is uncomfortable, or that breeds competition and discord. This is why we take extraordinary measures to know each child and tailor our environment to provide social and emotional security. We give our students the time and space to develop their interior selves. As one parent so aptly put it: We do not promote an "academic shell of accomplishment.” We build personal strength through the development of a growth mindset, resilience, and self-confidence.  

Many public and private schools tout the academic successes of their student body, and we applaud their accomplishments. But what happens when these students move out into the world? When they meet someone who is more skilled? When they are faced with an ethical dilemma or a work environment that does not recognize their prior achievements? An unexpected failure and a lack of resilience can crack that shell of self-worth and efficacy. 

Allow a sweet metaphor for what I am attempting to articulate. When educational structure and policy only focus on creating that academic shell of accomplishment, the student produced becomes like a chocolate-cherry cordial. And we all know what happens once the chocolate shell is broken — the interior goodness quickly flows away. At Ventana our educational structure allows us to produce M&Ms. The emotional center — the core values, the personal strength — is solid because we concentrate our teaching on social development as much as academic development. Resilience – that can-do attitude, a must for this complex world — has been hard-wired here. 

This is what differentiates us. This is what we do on our hill overlooking Silicon Valley. This is our commitment to our students and to the future we all will share.

Marcy Barton