Especially this year following a world-wide education shut down from the pandemic, it’s critical that our schools embrace the whole-child and provide children spaces to safely play, explore, and learn.
The teachers at St. Thomas are some of the most skillful I’ve seen at doing just that: ensuring kids are challenged academically by igniting their passion for learning, meeting them where they are and helping them grow into their best selves. We are now entering year three of our daily Spanish language program and our previously monolingual students are growing into bilingual (or trilingual in some cases) global citizens. Through an exciting grant from Jacobs Engineering, our 1st – 5th grade teachers are gearing up to incorporate WeDo 2.0 kits from LEGO into their interdisciplinary science curricula so that children can learn to engineer, program, and problem solve.
Our school’s Episcopal identity shines by fostering an environment that is truly open to families of all backgrounds and faiths. As part of a broader Diversity and Inclusion initiative, I worked with my teachers to select the Teaching Tolerance curriculum and standards into our daily assemblies and chapel services. These lessons focus on developing a positive self-identity as a foundation for accepting all of the ways of being human. As our Rector, Father. Mike, put it one morning “God has chosen all of us, and so everyone belongs here”.
The kindness and caring that teachers and staff model is a core part of student learning, and we see daily examples of how they internalize these lessons. Recently I saw a 5th grader who happened to be passing by when our kindergarten class was showcasing Moon-festival lanterns they had made, and without prompting from any nearby adult, he gently stood there and listened as each child showed him their lantern, and celebrated their efforts in turn. Nevermind that just moments before he was in a hurry to get back to class, or that he didn’t know most of these kids (nor they him) – he simply knew how to recognize a moment that called for kindness, and had learned how to act on that knowledge.
The elementary school years are precious and few, but vitally important for a child’s academic, social, emotional and spiritual development. If you’re looking for a school that mirrors how special your child is, then I think St. Thomas may be just the right place to be.
About our Head of School:
Colin O’Neal is a career educator with over 13 years experience in K-12 schools. He leads with his passion for understanding child development and cognition, which stems from his unique background: a bachelor’s in Psychology from Texas State University, and an M.S. in Neuroscience and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. Prior to his headship at St. Thomas, Mr. O’Neal worked as a Houston area teacher-educator and co-authored a book on the subject. He presents at conferences and workshops on the subject of neuroscience and education, and has been a TEDx speaker. When not at school, he volunteers at the Armand Bayou Nature Center as a kayak guide, and serves as a co-den leader alongside his wife for BSA.