Atrium School

Excellence with Joy

Eighth Grade Clusters Presentation

This week, Middle Schoolers had their demonstrations of learning for their Clusters block. Middle School students rotate through three two-week Cluster learning blocks throughout the year, cycling through Performing Arts, STEM, and Digital Storytelling. For the fall rotation, eighth graders were in Performing Arts, focusing on social justice issues like immigration, racism, and ableism.

Third Grade Rocketeers

How do you build a rocket? Our third graders can tell you! This fall, the Rocketeers learned how to build rockets, teaching them about the scientific and engineering elements of designing rockets while simultaneously helping them to practice the patience and consideration required to learn from their mistakes and improve their designs. Also, rockets are pretty awesome and fun.

PreK's Walk to Willow Pond

PreK students recently took a walk to Willow Pond to document the seasonal changes they observed. Prior to the trip, PreK students predicted what they would see, making arguments about why they would see it. During the trip, they observed and investigated their prior claims, collected evidence, and paid particular attention to a tree the class took notice of earlier in the year. Did it grow? Does the bark feel different in the fall? At the end of the trip, the class gathered together in a circle, reflecting on what they saw.

Seventh Grade Probability Carnival

At the end of their probability unit, Atrium School seventh graders design games with several probabilities. They calculate the odds of winning and award tickets, with the goal being an unfair payout so that they "make money". The entire school attends the Probability Carnival, where each game is played.

Virginia L. Kahn (1927-2018)

Click here for information on Ginny Kahn’s memorial service.


It is with deep sadness—and profound admiration for a life so well-lived—that we announce the death of Virginia L. Kahn, the visionary founder of Atrium School. Ginny, as we all knew her, died peacefully on Friday afternoon at her home in Cambridge, after several days of visits by old friends, family, her dear caregivers, and loved ones. Her charisma, charm, and affection for others remained vital, even as she slipped away. Ginny was 90 years old.
Ginny’s own early education in New York City was at the Lincoln School, a beloved place that deeply informed her vision of what schooling could be for children. As an educator, she perennially sought to spark joy in learning, strength in community, and authentic experiences. In 1981, she articulated a desire to reinvigorate empathy in children’s schooling, and in 1982 she founded Atrium School. Ginny served as the first board chair and Bruce Droste was the founding director.
With their leadership, Atrium was quickly a success. After just a decade, a founding board member wrote, “What you have done Ginny, in the founding of Atrium School, is a remarkable achievement. Many of us dream about such things, but you managed to pull it off. Your vision has been remarkable and prophetic.” Of the impact of Atrium, an alumna recently wrote, “When I reflect on my adult life, many of my deeply held values can be traced right back to The Atrium: confidence in myself as a learner, a love of curiosity and play, a passion for contributing to social justice movements, and the power of community and music to lift the spirit and create resilience and joy.”
Ginny loved to witness Atrium in action, and until very recently she attended musical performances and visited classrooms. She loved having our students visit her at home; often they would quite literally sit at her feet to hear her wonderful stories. More often though, she asked them questions, and she listened intently to their answers. Ginny had an unusually profound respect for all kinds of children, and all kinds of learners.
Ginny will be buried in a small, private ceremony for family and close friends. Later this year, Atrium School will join with the Kahn family to host a celebration of her life and legacy. Today, please join me in expressing your condolences to Ginny’s family, and in expressing profound gratitude to Ginny for the extraordinary gifts she gave us all: Atrium the school, but also the Atrium values, experiences, and inspiration that each one of us carries within.
In the closing words of her memoir Never a Dull Moment, Ginny writes “I am an eternal optimist and so hope I will live to see us become part of a more cohesive and peaceful world. I am forever hopeful!” Ginny wanted all of us to live in such a world, and indeed, we continue her legacy when we work to make our world more cohesive, and more peaceful. 

Marshall W. Carter
Head of School

Welcome to Atrium!

Today, we held our annual Welcome Assembly, in which every new member of the Atrium community received a welcome sunflower from an eighth grader. Head of school Marshall Carter welcomed new students and eighth graders shared their own greeting. Librarian Susan Jacoby and art teacher Talin Megherian invited visitors to view the library’s new artwork, created to more accurately represent Atrium’s population. Middle School math teacher Liz Caffrey, fifth grade teacher Nicole Moran and kindergarten teacher Jaleesa Anselm asked families to consider “What is math?” (definitions, not opinions), and to write their conclusions in a banner to be contemplated and discussed later. To new students and old, welcome (back) to Atrium!

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What Teachers Did Over Summer Vacation

At Atrium, learning is a continual process—both the simple act of learning and learning how to teach. Summer is no exception, and Atrium educators spend much of the summer doing professional development and learning how to enhance their teaching. This summer, Middle School teachers Laura Page (science), Paul Capobianco (social studies) and Julia Schroeder (ELA) each participated in Developmental Designs' Education for Equity program, a program focused on social-emotional learning and social justice. After completing the workshop, the teachers worked together with art, music and PE specialists to help integrate social-emotional learning more fully across all the subject areas.  

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Atrium's Third Eighth Grade Class Graduates

On June 7, seventeen Atrium students graduated from eighth grade. "These graduates are exceptional–they are kind, hard-working, and innovative thinkers,” said Marshall Carter, Atrium’s Head of School. “Whether they came to Atrium as seventh graders, or have been here since kindergarten, they've come together as a class and have been great leaders for Atrium. We look forward to hearing about their successes and adventures in high school and beyond–we're so proud and pleased to call them Atrium graduates."

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Climate Studies Combine Multiple Disciplines

Fourth and fifth graders recently completed their climate study research projects, a research study that integrates their science, reading and writing curricula with an element of engineering. The students began by learning the difference between climate and weather, and ended by creating a model of a house designed for a particular climate in tandem with writing a five-paragraph research essay about the effect of climate on lifestyle in their specific geographic location.  

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Atrium Celebrates Field Day

This week, Atrium students celebrated Field Day, a long-standing school tradition. Students cycled through 13 different activities across the campus. Grouped by mixed age Constellation, children participated in chalk drawing, kush catch, parachute games, tic tac go and bubbles outside.

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Famous Social Justice Heroes Inspire Atrium

For twenty years, students in Jill Ferraresso’s second grade class have been doing Heroism Studies: researching a hero from American history and then embodying them in a presentation before their class. While the project has transformed over the years, Heroism Studies are a hallmark of Atrium’s second grade curriculum; children learn how history is often driven by social justice visionaries.

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Becoming a Reader: Kindergarten at Atrium

In Kindergarten (and in Pre-Kindergarten), children are already deeply involved in the complex task of becoming readers, which will continue for many years to come. Metaphorically, some have compared the process of learning to read with learning to drive, though learning to read well takes many more years to develop. In the same way that a driver must integrate and practice many separate skills, understandings, habits and awarenesses, so readers must do the same. It requires growing attention, stamina, working memory, self-direction and self-monitoring, and a healthy amount of independence, risk-taking, and confidence.  

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