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Episcopal Day School: Where Every Experience is a Teachable Moment

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Every experience is a teachable moment at Episcopal Day School (EDS) in Pensacola. "Focusing on academic excellence and character growth," as Director of Advancement Andrea Chesterfield states, their formula for success is not easily copied. It involves parent participation, Christian principles, tough coursework and fun activities, all within a private-school setting.

As a Christian-based school, EDS is different from other faith-based schools. Its all-inclusive attitude means students of all or no specific faith grow and learn about each other's traditions together. Chesterfield notes," This diversity enhances our learning, cultural and spiritual development."

The school has increased its campus size from its founding in 1952. What was once the St. Michael Catholic School property was purchased by EDS in 2009 and was converted into the Early Learning Center (ELC), which opened in 2010 and services kids six weeks of age and older. As a whole, the school takes children up through eighth grade.

The academic focus is on teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEaM) in a hands-on, interactive way to foster innovation. Topics such as robotics and 3D printing bring technology into the school, as does the use of mobile laptop carts with MacBook Air computers and iPads and classrooms with smartboards. "EDS embraces 21st Century skills including critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity grounded in high academic standards with technological integration," states Chesterfield. "We engage students in a rigorous and enriched curriculum, including research, writing and problem-solving."

The curriculum is geared to build character and bring out each child's natural skills through outdoor learning areas, individual learning experiences, Spanish beginning at age 2 and as a core course in Middle School, along with interdisciplinary learning. Compassion, service and social responsibility are all highly encouraged.

As a member school of the Catholic Youth Sport League, students are encouraged to participate in athletics. Teams are offered in a variety of sports from flag football and volleyball to golf and swimming. Student participation can begin as early as the third grade, depending on the sport.

EDS comes to the rescue on extended holidays or summertime when school is not in session. Kids will keep busy working on projects with different themes, playtime and group mealtime within a fun-loving and caring environment. Any child is eligible to enroll in summer day camp, even if not currently enrolled at EDS.

"Students flourish at our school and value the exceptional preparation they receive for their future success," Chesterfield explains. "This is affirmed by the smiles and laughter on our campuses, and the many accomplishments of our alumni."

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