As parents, we field a lot of unexpected questions. One question Scott Buresh didn’t see coming from his kids? “Why is school so boring?”
As a former student of public schools himself, he fully expected to send his three daughters on the same path. But when his daughters seemed disenchanted with their education, he knew there had to be something better out there.
“I visited many different schools both in and around Maryland and DC, and found lots of great places, but I had trouble finding a school close by that had a loving, Christ-centered environment, a strong academic program, and a focus on helping to build children of character,” said Scott. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention — so with the encouragement and hard work of friends and family, and a strong board, they opened the Cambridge School.
What sets Cambridge apart from other schools in the area? It’s all in their approach, both with their students and with the curriculum.
“Integral” is the term used to describe how Cambridge students learn, meaning that students experience the relationships between subject matters in a way that reflects the “big picture” instead of isolated bits of information. Students are invited to dive deeply into unit themes, rather than just skim the surface of often disjointed topics in order to better appreciate and understand the connectedness of learning, and how it all relates to themselves and the world around them.
Scott teaches eighth grade, but this is nowhere near the eighth grade experience that many of us remember. By the end of the year, Scott’s students will have delved into WWII, the Civil Rights Era, and contemporary challenges. They will have traveled to Sandtown to volunteer in their Organic Gardens, to Mexico to partner with Mexicans in offering children’s programs, met with many religious leaders to discuss interfaith communications and hardships, spent time volunteering at Corhaven Graveyard, and experienced Harlem through the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcom X’s experiences.
“We try to intentionally marry together a mix of learning, fun, and service,” explained Scott. “From our first day of school, students engage with one another and the world around them. We want what our students are learning in class to really mean something.”
Units in Cambridge’s middle school are based on periods in American history, beginning in sixth grade and continuing chronologically through eighth grade. The focus shifts to longer projects, more independent work, and a schedule of classes that varies by day of the week. Students also choose from a variety of languages to study through their middle school years.
What does the curriculum look like in lower grades? Units in first and second grade emphasize a hands-on, multi-sensory instructional approach in which the primary goal is to nurture each student’s imagination, creativity, and social skills, while laying a strong reading and math foundation. In third through fifth grades, history is taught chronologically, allowing students to get a full picture of God’s story and their place in it. Studies of literature, science, Bible, art, music, and writing all stem from the themes explored in the historical timeframe. All lower school classes venture out for at least one field trip each month, and all are covered by the cost of tuition to bring classroom learning to life.
Through community outreach, experiential learning, community building, and learning in a “big picture” way, Cambridge prepares their students to participate in the world, long after school is over, just like Scott envisioned for his children years ago.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. Each week, we spotlight our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about Cambridge School, visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Images were provided by the school. Want to become a school partner? Email us.