Clear Spring School offers different approach to education

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

At Clear Spring School, students of all ages work with their hands on a daily basis.

"There's a lot of research behind doing anything with your hands being very stimulating for brain development and brown growth, so whatever you're doing -- music, art, whatever -- provides you with a really good basis for learning," Charles Templeton said.

Templeton, head of the school, said the school hopes to apply that concept at any given opportunity. One of those opportunities, he said, is a fundraiser for the school being held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Castle Rogue's Manor. The fundraiser will feature dancing and an art auction.

"It's a lot of fun. Artists like the whole concept of learning by doing because they're artists. Hopefully it'll generate some money for our operations," Templeton said.

All proceeds from the event, he noted, will help the school operate better. Because the school is private, Templeton explained, there's no tax base to help with financial needs.

"We're constantly seeking money. We're not any different from any other private institution. We're all seeking to raise more money because that's the way you grow and expand," Templeton said.

Student tuition and fundraisers like this one, he said, help the school provide educational opportunities for students. Templeton described some of the programs the school needs money for, saying students in the woodshop class have been creating banjos and Civil War checkerboards.

Students Owen Evans, 7 years old, and Olivia Lindsay, 9 years old, said they enjoy woodshop and art class more than any other classes. Owen showed off his banjo; though it isn't done yet, he said he's looking forward to painting it to set it apart from the other banjos being made in class.

"I really like woodshop," Owen said.

The idea behind such hands-on projects, Templeton said, is based on instituting a progressive education for all students.

"People get a mistaken impression of what progressive means. It's just a philosophy that kids learn better by doing things rather than sitting in a seat," Templeton said.

Teaching multiple grade levels at the same time, Templeton continued, reflects that same idea. Students are split into grades, but Templeton said three age groups are taught together. Primary education, he explained, includes first through third grade students and elementary consists of fourth through sixth grade students.

"It's like a family. When you sit down to eat at dinner, the mother and father don't say, 'Well, bring in the 6-year-old. Now bring in the 8-year-old.' They all sit down and eat together," Templeton said.

Separating students into larger groups, he added, helps students learn at their own pace. Sam Dudley, who teaches science, social studies and English, agreed that this is one of the biggest assets of the school.

"Specifically with our math program, the students can work at their own pace. If they don't understand something, they can slow down," Dudley said.

Fellow teacher Doug Stow pointed out how students are given a distinct one-on-one education because of Clear Spring's teaching philosophies.

"We can address every child as an individual rather than a class. The student can fit in where they fit instead of where we fit them," Stow said. "Clear Spring is where the kids really learn at a pace that is measured to them as individuals."

Clear Spring's differences from other public and private institutions, Templeton noted, are what makes it such a special place to learn.

"Now more than ever, it's great to have an alternative," Templeton said.

That, he added, is why it's important that the school receives support from the Eureka Springs community.

"It's an expensive alternative for our parents. We have to do everything we can to try to supplement that," Templeton said.

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