Guiding Tomorrow's Hearts and Minds

The St. Matt's Experience

Social Emotional Learning

We care about the people our students will become. From pre-k to eighth grade, St. Matthew’s core values - moral courage, service, respect, and compassion - are woven into the fabric of our program. We are committed to the social and emotional health and well-being of each of our students.
St. Matthew’s is a Responsive Classroom school. This philosophy permeates all classrooms from the way students greet one another each morning, to the positive language used by teachers within the classrooms. Developmental Designs is the term used to describe the Responsive Classroom approach in middle school.
 
Character Counts is another program that is seamlessly embedded into the social development of our school. We integrate character-building lessons through the use of role-playing, reflection journals and group work which supports learning and positive relationships with their peers and teachers.
Our School Families is a widely loved program within our community. As each student comes into the fold at St. Matthew's, they are welcomed into a cross-grade level school family (kindergarten to eighth grade). The families meet regularly during the school year - activities range from a simple lunch in the courtyard to working together on community service projects - and two 'school parents' (faculty and staff) are also part of the mix. Making these connections helps the younger family members feel more comfortable on campus and gives the more senior family members a chance to be mentors. The students light up as they bump into a familiar face during the day. They also take delight in fun traditions like sending care packages to family members who have left the nest to begin their high school adventures.


Pre-kindergarten

Pre-kindergarten is a time when students learn the importance of developing and nurturing positive relationships with peers and their teachers. This is further enhanced through cooperative play, helping and caring for others through our service learning program and the use of the Responsive Classroom approach.
 
Teachers model positive communication and help students develop the tools to promote self-control and the expression of ideas and thoughts. In their play and learning, students practice problem-solving and are encouraged to take responsible risks. They begin to step out of their comfort zone, knowing they are in a safe place to express their feelings and needs.

Lower School

Lower School (kindergarten to grade 4) teachers place social development at the heart of their program, where the emphasis is on the whole child. The primary goal is to nurture and sustain the natural curiosity of children and meet the evolving needs of our students.
 
In the elementary years, the students begin to see themselves as part of a larger social group and learn how to be good friends and supportive classmates. They feel known and respected and this supports their development as engaged, kind and compassionate members of their class and our community.

Middle School

The Middle School years (grades 5 to 8) are a time of transformational growth — physically, intellectually, and socially. Our students handle these transitions exceptionally well, supported by understanding teachers and classmates.
 
On-going every day conversations - Middle school teachers encourage students to advocate for themselves and share thoughts, ideas, and opinions in class that may go against the mainstream. Voicing one’s ideas respectfully in a class discussion or one-on-one with a teacher are just a few ways in which students develop confidence.
 
Student Advisory - The middle school Advisory Program allows students a safe place to have more personal connections with smaller groups of classmates and a dedicated faculty member during the course of each school year. The advisory curriculum includes age appropriate topics such as budgeting time, cyber safety, handling stress, and peer conflict resolution.
 
Retreats - Sixth through eighth grade students attend annual retreats with both a spiritual and social-emotional focus. Some highlights include the seventh grade retreat in Healdsburg and the three-day, eighth grade in Sonoma County that includes a high ropes course in the redwoods. The retreats are powerful bonding experiences that unite the class and pave the way for students to be positive leaders of the school. The important lessons learned on the retreats are reinforced daily in chapel, the classroom, and weekly advisory sessions.