Atrium School

Excellence with Joy

Dear Atrium Community,

Nearly 40 years ago, Virginia L. Kahn envisioned an innovative, engaging and heartfelt learning community. Following her dream, Ginny and her impassioned team created Atrium School–a school where diverse learners and superb teachers wholly immerse themselves in an exciting, challenging, and ever-evolving program. Each day, children here engage in a curriculum full of beauty, richness and complexity, with abundant opportunities for curious and collaborative exploration. Ginny built a school where social and emotional growth are recognized as vitally equal elements in the education of the whole child. She ensured that at Atrium, each child’s empathy expands, and each child’s capacity for bringing forward justice, equity and inclusion steadily grows.

Over the years, Atrium has grown from a just a few students to 120 today. We’ve built and purchased our environmentally sustainable campus at 69 Grove Street in Watertown. We’ve extended our vision to include a Middle School, and entered into exciting learning partnerships in our community. Ginny’s broad and exciting vision is now expressed through Atrium’s simple but powerfully balanced motto: Excellence with Joy. Our students, alumni, and parents describe an Atrium education as life-shaping, indelible, and empowering. Atrium has been truly transformative for children over our 36 years, and our graduates pursue lives of meaning and purpose.

In this spirit we look ahead and ask, how will Atrium itself grow and transform in the years to come? How will we expand our vision and reach, and establish ever greater leadership in progressive education? This past summer, a strategic planning committee comprised of parents, faculty, staff and trustees began a process of research, reflection, and envisioning. We crafted and broadly shared a Strategic Vision Statement, and the committee invited feedback, insights and ideas from parents, faculty & staff, trustees, and alumni families through open community sessions. At the very heart of the vision are four interconnected capacities that we strive to develop in each and every Atrium child. These are:

●      Drive to solve problems and innovate – Atrium students develop the intellectual curiosity, academic expertise, playfulness, persistence, and aesthetic expressiveness to create and innovate as they collaboratively address increasingly complex problems.

●      Confidence in identity and voice – Atrium students continuously discover who they are, who others are, and what they are capable of; they emerge with the confidence and skills to share themselves with the world.

●      Leadership through empathy and inclusivity – Atrium students can understand multiple perspectives, in both academic and social contexts; they cultivate kindness, courage, and compassion in themselves and others, embracing human differences as a source of strength.

●      Commitment to citizenship, sustainability and impact – Atrium students learn how to positively contribute to their communities, and they prepare for robust citizenship within a pluralistic democracy.

Through broad community engagement, certain themes are emerging as prominent, and shared. By pursuing these priorities, we ensure that we can develop the capacities noted above. Looking forward, priorities for Atrium include: 

●      Program evolution and innovation: We will continuously improve our program, and bring to life fresh and relevant new curricula and pedagogy to ensure excellence in teaching and learning.

●      Communication and institutional visibility: We will better articulate our school’s identity and enhance communication both within our own community and outwardly.  Atrium will take up new leadership among elementary and middle school education.

●      Diversity and inclusion: We will become more diverse as a community, more inclusive, and more equitable, as we teach children to be leaders of pluralistic communities.

●      Financial sustainability: We will further establish institutional financial practices to ensure stability and long-range strength, and empower support for faculty and robust financial aid to ensure access to an Atrium education.  We will raise an endowment to secure Atrium for generations to come.


Through open public meetings, progress reports, topical task forces, and outreach to all constituents, our process so far has been broadly inclusive of ideas and perspectives from the entire community, and we further invite your participation at Your input will be shared with the Strategic Planning Committee. As specific initiatives and growth opportunities for Atrium are articulated, we’ll again seek feedback and ideas from the broader community.

Thank you! A shared vision for Atrium’s future is clearly emerging, and the road ahead is very promising. It’s a road that will further our work towards Excellence with Joy, benefitting today’s Atrium students and those to come for many years. 


Mary O’Neill, Strategic Planning Chair and Marshall Carter, Head of School