Dryden Elementary School is a place for community, a place for learning and a place for our students to find their passions. At Dryden, we believe in empowering our students to learn. Our students are given the space needed to take ownership of their education and explore their interests within the parameters of our rigorous curriculum. Students and staff are encouraged to look outside our walls, and at our community. What are we doing to help make the world a better place? This question is something our students often reflect on, creating empathy and perspective. We have so much pride, here, at Dryden. We have pride in our learning, pride in ourselves and pride in our community. #DrydenRocks and we believe it! Enjoy this page that as it gives a great snapshot of who we are at Dryden. If you have any feedback, comments or questions, don't hesitate to contact us!
Empowered to learn
At Dryden, we believe an empowered learner is a confident learner and having confidence while learning creates a fearless learner. A fearless learner creates a balanced relationship to his/her work, letting go of attachment to a grade/result and instead gets lost in the essence of the lesson. Empowered to learn means that we work towards getting Dryden students to feel a sense of ownership and purpose in the classroom. We want our students to be self-directed in what they are learning, how they are learning and why they are learning it. It means that students have the opportunities, the power and the time/space to identify questions/problems that arise.
We hope to create an environment where our students can explore areas of interest that are meaningful and important and we can use those as springboards for deeper learning. The key being that when we are motivated and inspired to work hard at things that have great meaning to us it doesn't necessarily feel like hard work. There's an intersection of play and work (joy and work) that we aim to hit so perfectly. Work should feel playful, because that feeling enhances passion, which can foster retention.
Dryden was one of six school selected to be spotlighted at the Successful Schools Showcase at the 2019 ASCD international conference in Chicago this spring, based on our "empowered to learn" mission and vision.
Reflective and Global Thinkers
Dryden students are aware of where there's room for growth, both as a learner and as a person. Every student in our school has an individualized goal that he/she is aware of and responsible for. Our students showcase their reflective and self-directed/self-motivated skills, using this goal as a baseline. Throughout the year the student and the teacher have on-going goal setting meetings. In the fall, our teachers, with input on information they have about the student, input from the parents, and a lot of input from the students, form goals together of how they want to grow, and that goal is used as a reflective tool throughout the year.
We also want our students to be reflective outside of themselves. We hope our students can extend their reflective skills to their classroom/classmates, to a community level, to a grade level, then across the school, across Arlington Heights and the world beyond. Our teachers utilize Skype, video, and even the written letter to connect our students with people, of any age, across the world. At Dryden, we believe that the world is becoming much smaller as it becomes easier to connect. It's much easier for us to develop and have relationships with people from accords the world so we have to develop and support and model for our students what it's like to be ambassadors of our schools and communities and our families to others across the world.
It is impossible to know where our Dolphins will end up in their lives and there's a chance it'll be outside of Arlington Heights. We want our students to be prepared to be open and excited about exploring. We want our students to be familiar with other cultures and ways of life so the world isn't all NEW when they are set out in the world.
The Dryden community is full of giving and caring people and families. We often find that our students, staff and families want to do things to help others and make the world a better place. Our various councils and clubs that are run by our staff or our parents take time and effort, but the return is immeasurable. Our students learn what it feels like to give back and help out and to have an impact. Our student council is extremely active with many sub-committees that promote kindness, environmental awareness, school/community spirit, and community partnership. These all generate student-run efforts that have an impact on our school and our community.
Often times, students will take the initiative to ask if they can form a club based on interest and are guided through the process of how it can be an inclusive club. Our 5th graders are leaders of the school as they identify and plan a service project each year and are responsible for coordinating every aspect of it. This is a great way for the students to see and experience the power and rewards of being able to have a positive impact on those around them.
Walk into our school and you'll notice, we are super proud of it. Our Dolphin Pride oozes out of every hallway or classroom of the building. A few years back, the theme of Dryden's 60th birthday party was Dryden Rocks and that was something that stuck because...Dryden DOES rock! We've used this as our motto and hashtag (#DrydenRocks) to celebrate something as big as a teacher who has been nominated for various awards to our field day where we have 100 volunteers help us manage a fun and active day for our school. Dryden Rocks. We know it, our community knows it, and anyone who enters our building knows it. It's a passionate place to learn and grow.
Our graduated Dolphins, no matter the age, love visiting. It is rewarding to see the long term impact of the learning and the work that happens within the school. We so enjoy seeing and celebrating our students as they are grow up. As we see former students shining through a lot of different extracurricular opportunities and beyond it adds perspective to the current staff and students to see that what we are learning and doing right now, leads to opportunity and success and happiness down the road.