What Makes Merriam Special

Merriam School offers many unique opportunities focusing around community building. Read down the list and descriptions to discover what makes us special.


All School Meetings

On Fridays, September through June, all classrooms assemblein the Cafetorium for an All School Meeting. These meetings allow classes and faculty to share current projects,ideas, thoughts, dramas and music with the whole school.  It is one of the many ways that we build community at Merriam. Parents are always invited.


Student-Led Conferences

Mid-year, every student (kindergarten-sixth grade) leads a conference with their parents in the classroom. (The classroom teacher is not present for this conference). This is an opportunity for students to present their work, reflect on their progress, share what they are proud of and what they are working on, and overall demonstrate a unique investment in the learning process by organizing and leading a discussion based on their academic achievements.
Homework Procedures
Review this document for Merriam Homework Procedures

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a teacher-generated approach to curriculum that is organized, planned, integrated, hands-on and authentic. A project may be short term or long term. The Merriam School staff believes that experiential, hands-on studies provide the richest opportunities for the development of students' skills, self-confidence, sense of responsibility, and enthusiasm for learning while supporting various learning styles. Much instruction is done within the context of these projects. Other explicit instruction and experiences are provided as well, in order to introduce, reinforce, complement, and enhance student learning. For this reason, whenever

appropriate, the Merriam School offers a project-based curriculum. All students participate in a variety of projects over the course of a year. Math, science, language arts, social studies, and the arts are integrated into interesting, challenging projects.

Family Groupings

Students are grouped in multi-age groups (grades K through six) and participate in a variety of school events such as Community Day, Theme Days, and Field Day together. These groupings enable students to develop and deepen ongoing relationships which foster a strong sense of community. Students participate in the same family group throughout their time at Merriam School, allowing them to gradually assume leadership roles as they progress through the grades.

Community Day

Early in the year, our school gathers together in family groups and participates in team building activities for half the school day. This allows us to launch the year, connected to one another.

Theme Day

The Merriam School staff creates a yearly school-wide theme to enhance ongoing community building, cross-grade interactions and curriculum investigations. During our

 mandalatwo theme days, students engage in learning experiences with their family group members. These experiences are led by Merriam staff group leaders and parent volunteers and often include

arts, drama, music, construction, and writing. Throughout the years, themes have included: gratitude, growth, resiliency, architecture, and connections around the world. Parent volunteers are welcome to participate during these wonderful mornings!

Field Day

At the end of the year, the school gathers in family groups to participate in cooperative, recreational games and activities. Classes enjoy a picnic lunch together and finish the day with an end-of-the-year classroom celebration.

Core Values

The integrity of the Merriam School community is built on a set of Core Values of “Risk Taking, Persistence, and Respect.”  It is expected that all members of the Merriam School community will be able to take thoughtful and appropriate risks in their learning and accept responsibility for the risks they take. Children will be encouraged and assisted to make a case for an unpopular view, to have the confidence to do difficult things, to have the courage to do what’s right … to contribute new or different ideas in discussions, and to offer friendship to someone they might not usually play with. All members of the Merriam School community will be expected to demonstrate initiative and persistence in learning. Children will be encouraged and assisted to see a task through from start to finish, ask for help from a variety of sources, try multiple strategies in problem solving and draw connections between learning experiences in and out of school. All members of the Merriam School community will be expected to demonstrate respect for themselves and others. Children will be encouraged to speak up against exclusion, to respond to someone in need, to acknowledge the efforts of a classmate, to be open to ideas and approaches not rooted in his or her own culture or experience and to value all members of the community as teachers, learners, followers and leaders. 
We believe that as we develop and promote these values in school, at home and in the wider community, they will enable all of us to be capable and responsible citizens of the world.

Grade Level Meetings

Teachers on the same grade level meet weekly, to collaborate and develop meaningful curriculum, review and create assessments, and discuss other school related topics. Additionally, grade levels collaborate two Thursday afternoons per month in order to develop dynamic and engaging curriculum.


A Triad is a peer-mentoring model consisting of three teachers from across grades levels who observe and support one another throughout the school year. It is an opportunity for teachers to learn from one another by observing classrooms, posing questions and sharing strategies and expertise. __


Whenever possible at Merriam, we loop classes together for a two-year period with the same teacher. Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, we adjusted the loops. Prior to that year, the loops were 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 with Kindergarten as a stand-alone year. Futuristically, they will be K-1, 2-3, 4-5 with 6th grade as a stand-alone year. Looping has been around since the 1900s and there is much research, which praises its benefits. One of the more obvious benefits is that looping fosters a safe, nurturing climate where problem solving, risk taking, and active involvement are encouraged. A strong sense of community is built among student, teacher, and family members. Anxiety about the new school is virtually eliminated for the second year in a loop. Other benefits include extra teaching time, as “getting-to-know-you time” is unnecessary during the second year. Students have more time to develop critical social skills and practice cooperative group strategies. Teachers gain a deeper knowledge about a child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses that is not possible during a single year together. At Merriam we believe that the long-term relationships that are developed as a result of looping are incredibly valuable to a child’s education and development. ____

Community Curriculum Evenings

Every year, we (often lead by the School Council) host an evening bringing families together to explore different areas of our curriculum such as literacy or math. Games, activities, and projects are organized by grade level, allowing students to participate at appropriate skill levels. On these nights, families come to play games, laugh, and have fun while reinforcing math concepts or literacy skills.

Community Conversations

We believe that the relationship between the school and the family is invaluable to the success of our children. As a result, each year we have three Community Conversations. These conversations are sponsored by both the school and the PTO and address various topics that may be important to the work of that school year. Recent conversations have been around Technology, Mathematics and Homework.

Portfolio Assessment

The Merriam portfolio assessment system documents student growth over time through an ongoing collection of student work, including assessments, from across the curriculum. Assessment of student progress is an integral part of the learning process. It is interwoven with learning and directs the learner and the teacher towards areas of desired grow

Old School House

th. Assessment pieces do not mark the end of a portion of study, but rather augment the learning process. They provide teachers with valuable information upon which to base instructional planning, as well as a variety of ways to evaluate student progress. Teachers use this collection of student work during parent conferences to share academic and personal accomplishments. Portfolios are an effective way to motivate students and promote student reflection and understanding of their own learning. Students and teachers are actively involved in the assessment process throughout the school year, as the portfolio system fosters real learning about learning.

Our Teachers

Merriam School has established with a philosophy deeply rooted in collaborative decision making, community and meaningful and authentic learning experiences for children. Teachers who teach at Merriam, want to teach at Merriam. The teachers are deeply committed to knowing every child, and making every child feel valued and loved. Additionally, teachers serve on a multitude of committees in order to maintain and continuously revitalize the structures that make us so unique.  Teachers are generous with their time as they participate in summer R & Ds in order to develop curriculum, they run committees before and after school in order to plan Community Days and other school events, and they learn together with colleagues through book seminars and other Professional Learning.

Quotes from students and teachers:


"Theme Day is a great way to enrich the curriculum at all levels and foster a real sense of community at the same time." teacher


"I love watching how the older children rise to the occasion of helping the younger children. I was amazed at how the older children modeled what they know about appropriate behavior, letter writing, and our connections to people in other countries." teacher

"I like the way that we communicate with other kids and the fact that it's truly global communication." student

"Merriam's sense of community is strengthened by family groups. I love the way that Theme Day emphasizes a particular value or idea through various group activities." teacher

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