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A child working on a box with electric light
A child working on a box with electric light
Children working on wheeled devices
Children working with a string of electric lights
Children plating marimbas
Children painting
An older and a younger child writing together

Who We Are

Ren School was founded in 2009 and our work comes from the practice of artists and scientists.

The majority of our school time is spent in exhilarating application, in collaborating with peers, cultivating the need to know… occupations that can be found in a vibrant school environment. In this place, children stretch, explain, revisit, reflect, and extend their reasoning and capacities for life-learning.

Educational Philosophy & Design

Children working on a writing project together

Enduring Questions and Case Studies

When topics contain opportunities for multiple investigations (case studies), several things can happen. We explore enduring questions that have long-life relevance. Larger ideas unfold, pertaining to different times and places, more like the lives our children will live outside of school, across multiple career paths, and beyond our ability to guess the future. Case studies provide options for groups and for individuals while adhering to a larger conceptual framework, thus recognizing the part-to-whole and individual-to-group relationships that make us a strong learning environment.

Children working on arts and crafts together

Motivation and Interest

Children are able to select areas that pertain to, or ignite, their interests. Each case study adds to the definition and fuller evolution of the main concepts. Children have a reason to share and engage in dialogue using comparison, contrast, parallel issues, and analogies, all high levels of thinking and expression. Collaboration becomes centered around essential ideas and questions rather than limiting discussion to simple fact-checking. Over years, children’s contributions and archives allow for a greater depth which propels us into extensions and questions beyond a basic “coverage” of material. Greater understanding of an enduring question is generated and revisited with the addition of each new case study.

A child measuring with a ruler

Expectations and Assessment

Guidelines and expectations are used as floors rather than ceilings. The achievement of high expectations rests on the faculty’s commitment to ensure that each child develops intellectual competence, passion, and power. Teachers working in this manner consistently ask, “Is this a sufficiently high standard for this child?” Academic challenges are set at a personal level for each learner and children are drawn in, through inspiring examples and provocation, to help establish questions and evaluation criteria, critique and sculpt processes, and reflect on results.

Writing captures and conveys the human experience for audiences intimate and immediate as well as those yet unknown in our future. In the Renaissance community, reading and writing are integrally related. Literature sparks our imaginations and incites our power with words… and our own writing process allows us a glimpse into the struggle and strengths of published authors. Children and adults use writing to express ideas, information, and emotions. Learning to write is an exhilarating process as young authors realize that marks on paper carry meaning, representing words and ideas, and that others can decode meaning when a common code is used!

Design technology is not a program; it is an approach embedded in a world of inquiry with multiple pathways, entrances, and exits. It honors questions and becomes a lifestyle. Our children don the mantles of designer, scientist, and engineer, observing what is, imagining what could be, building with minds and hands, with materials and tools, creating confidence and competence in their current world, and preparing for vigorous engagement in their future.

Renaissance children study environmental, life, earth (geology, geography, space), and physical sciences. Through design technology (engineering) they use and test notions of material and structural sciences, energy systems, and elements of design that are foundational to scientific thought and technological innovation. In this multi-layered manner, our young scientists use technology and a wide variety of resources to challenge, deepen, and extend single source data.

Our community is deeply committed to developing responsible, critically-literate global citizens who understand the significant role of humans on our planet and who proactively participate in their communities, nation, and world. Our children engage in the arts, humanities and social sciences through the integrated study of history, literature, art, economics, sociology, and government.

Mathematics is another way of exploring and making connections. From the beginning, in all mathematical work, children explain and justify their processes and answers.

Strong mathematical thinkers develop abstract thinking capabilities, (acting on information without visual clues). In more complex projects, young mathematicians apply skills to real life math problems they define for themselves and express mathematical thinking through models, illustrations, and stories. Renaissance mathematicians solve problems arising in everyday contexts, whether describing the movement of essential elements, ordering and budgeting for materials in an engineering project, planning a social event, or analyzing a statistics question arising in the community.

At Renaissance, we strive to create a blend of humanities, analytical sciences, and physical movement. Movement and exercise for healthy bodies and minds are integrated in a variety of ways, depending on age level and time of year. Informally, movement is built into the course of the academic day, throughout the year, as children venture out to find materials and utilize different spaces for learning and independent work. Children naturally move between studio, literacy, snack, story, and numeracy, before lunchtime. Some children “take a stroll” (and absorb ideas from other classrooms) when they need a “brain break.” Others find refreshment in standing, rocking, or wiggling as bodies need a change of position during work periods. In the classroom, physical movement is often choreographed as a key strategy to understand and integrate concepts. Each week, classes are assigned time in the ballroom with a specialist for movement, cooperative games, and/or dance. Performance groups include hip-hop, tinikling, modern dance, Irish step dance, and poi. Exploratory classes include all of these along with ballet, run club, and outdoor games.




A Renaissance School of Arts and Sciences
234 S. Bancroft St., Portland, OR 97239
(971) 221-2311

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