About Riverside Elementary
Welcome to Riverside Elementary School in Princeton, NJ! Our school has a rich history of excellence with a strong commitment to academic achievement, to the development of the whole child, and to an emphasis on empathetic global citizenship, and our faculty and staff members seek to honor and to nurture that legacy by striving to make those goals a reality for all of our students. We are proud of our efforts to provide a rich, engaging learning experience for all of our students and to build a strong, caring community in which all students feel welcome, respected, safe, and appreciated. Yet, we also acknowledge that we always have room to improve so we approach our work with a strong growth mindset and a sense of humility, dedicating ourselves individually and collectively to professional reflection and to sustained improvement.
Our staff has four specific goals and values that we emphasize in our individual and collective work:
1) INCLUSION and EQUITY: We want to be a champion for equity by honoring all people – including their unique gifts, interests, and challenges – and we serve an incredibly diverse population of students -- including housing our district’s self-contained autism program and welcoming families from all over the world. Effective and engaging pedagogy, thoughtful differentiation, edifying relationships with students, collaborative planning, and appropriate and effective use of all forms of data (not just “test scores”) are the keys for teachers and administrators in making this goal a reality. We are strongly committed to inclusion and differentiation – seeking to personalize the learning experience for each child – and our language arts curricular focus on Readers and Writers Workshop is emblematic of this approach. We strive to help all children find and cultivate their talents and interests, and we seek to help all students move beyond any academic and/or social challenges that they may experience,
providing a plethora of support services – including co-teaching in certain classrooms, pull-out resource sessions, English as a Second Language, Accelerated Intervention Services, Occupational Therapy, Speech, and Physical Therapy.
2) INNOVATION: We believe in the value of creativity, divergent thinking, and interdisciplinary learning – in terms of daily class activities and the types of assessments offered – as schools must continue to “think outside the box” and to explore unique ways to meet the needs and interests of diverse learners. In this vein, our teachers and instructional assistants are committed to working individually and collectively to build on their current excellence by developing more diverse learning opportunities that promote cross-curricular connections, a strong sense of personal relevance, and higher order thinking skills. This emphasis is particularly essential for developing classroom environments in which all students are appropriately challenged with learning experiences that meet their individual levels of academic ability and readiness.
3) LEARNING AS A JOYFUL PROCESS: We value classrooms in which teachers foster a passion for Socratic thought, a sense of joy in learning, and a constructivist view of knowledge, and this point of emphasis is directly in line with our district’s mission statement which highlights a commitment to “joy and purpose” in our schools. We also celebrate learning and self-expression through the arts with vibrant programs in choral music, band, orchestra, and visual arts as well as residencies in the dramatic arts through collaboration with McCarter Theater on the Princeton University campus. As a corollary to this mission, all of our staff members work to create an overall school environment that is safe, well-organized, and stimulating so that we promote and protect the rights of all students to learn and so that we lay
the foundation for the students to immerse themselves in the learning process. Albert Einstein noted, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” We want for Riverside to reflect that statement by fostering an environment in which our children can find moments of exuberance, make meaningful connections, and develop their own understanding of the world as they become eager, inquisitive, and empathetic learners.
4) “IT TAKES A VILLAGE…”: We welcome and embrace parents/guardians, siblings, and other members of the community as important partners in the learning process. Acclaimed educator and thinker John Dewey wrote, “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children.” This critical nexus between home, school, and community is certainly a primary point of emphasis that has long been a hallmark of our school community. We want to work collaboratively with our families and community partners to enrich the educational experiences for our children (with programs like “Science Day” and “International Night”) and to help cultivate important “life lessons” – including the development of our Upstander code of values (respect, responsibility, empathy, tolerance, and self-esteem) – through programs like our “Turkey Fest” Thanksgiving celebration and our “Bear Bucks” positive behavioral intervention and support initiative.
We believe that Riverside is a special place for students and families – a community in which our children grow and flourish academically and socially, individually and collectively. We are confident that as a result of their experiences with us, our students will mature in their content knowledge, academic skills, and critical and creative thinking abilities, and they will develop into thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic global citizens who appreciate diversity and see value and dignity in all people.