Twenty years ago, a group of educators and parents saw a need for a new type of school, one where religion wasn’t just a subject, but Christ was at the center of all things. Today, the Cambridge School embodies this mission for K through 8 students in Baltimore. As Lisa Bond, the school’s Director of Development, describes, “We feel that it’s a movement and not just an institution.” And as the Cambridge School celebrates 20 years of learning, it’s clear this movement has been a success.
Things are always in motion at Cambridge School where teachers foster a learning environment that is creative and full of wonder. Students rarely just sit at their desks, passively taking in information. One class may be exploring on a scavenger hunt while another blocks a scene from a Shakespeare play. And some of this is probably happening outside as students head outdoors at least twice a day. Play is built into the learning environment, and not just for the littlest learners, giving all students the chance to imagine, enjoy, and soak it all in. This is all part of the school’s core values: Classical. Christ-centered. Integral.
These core values come together to benefit the child and school community. “We are always looking at the development of the heart and the soul of the whole child,” explains John Blumenstein, the Head of School.
Here’s a peek at how this all comes together at the Cambridge School.
A Classical Education
The classical approach at the Cambridge School is all about the enduring works and themes of literature. The goal? “It is designed to have an impact on a children’s sense on what is good, beautiful and true,” says Blumenstein. These big themes and classical works are often tackled at much younger grades than you would find in a traditional school. Students begin studying Latin in the 1st grade; by the 3rd grade they are starting translations, and in middle school, reading the classics in Latin.
Most religious schools teach about religion, but you’ll find a different approach at the Cambridge school. Instead of standalone religious lessons, Christ is woven into the daily aspects of learning. “It’s not just a religion class, but that understanding that Jesus is at the center of all learning and all things,” explains Lisa Bond. And in this Christ-centered philosophy, students look at stories of redemption and how Jesus was the origin of this theme. Cambridge school is unique in its approach to religion as it represents the Christian faith, but is not tied to any particular denomination or tradition.
“This is my favorite piece,” says Lisa Bond of the integral approach to education. Students tackle subjects in units that are typically based on a historical perspective weave in other elements such as art, what’s happening biblically, math, and science. “This teaches students to go deep instead of learning just facts and information,” says Bond.
When it comes to Civil Rights, students read To Kill a Mockingbird and participate in seminars on the core concepts of justice and human responsibility to each other. All of this history in motion invites students to consider what it means be be better person. And a more Christ-like one, too.
“We want children to learn as much as they can about the world in which we live through the lens of many disciplines,” explains Head of School Blumenstein.
Bringing It All Together
For 20 years, the Cambridge School has experienced great success in this unique approach. Sure, students are learning. A lot. But just as critical? Students get along, they respect each other, and they flourish in a classroom community modeled on Christ-like behavior.
And what’s next? Much like the leaders in the classics they studied in the 3rd grade, graduating 8th graders use the gifts developed in their Cambridge School education to discover their God-given destinies. And the Head of School’s goals for students as the continue on their own epic journeys? John Blumenstein sums it up nicely. “We want them.to succeed in high school, their college education, and ultimately to find their calling and their place in the world to be instruments of good for fellow human beings.”
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our school partner profile series. To learn more about Cambridge School, please visit their profile in our independent school directory. Photos by Laura Black.