When my editor asked if any of the TBMB writers would like to tour Corbett Preparatory School of IDS, a local independent school in Carrollwood for grades PreK3-8, I was the first to volunteer. I’ll admit my eagerness to visit was a bit self-serving though. Ever since moving to Tampa a little over a year ago, my biggest, most burning question has been, “Where will I send my girls to school?” They’re just babies now, but I still think a lot about how to ensure that their future school placements are the right fit. Sometimes I wonder if my background as a school psychologist might make me slightly more anxious around the topic than even your average doting mom. Regardless, what I do know is that finding the right school is hugely important to me. So when I arrived to Corbett Prep’s campus, I came with a lot of questions that I wanted to answer for my post . . . but I also came as a mom who wanted to see if she could envision her two little girls there as students, shuffling between buildings, being inspired to learn in their classrooms, practicing sports in the fields, and laughing with friends. It was my great pleasure to find that the answer to the latter of my questions was a resounding “Yes!” Here’s what I found and what I think any parent would love about the school:
Once on campus, I was interested to learn that I was visiting a school for “gifted children.” My immediate response, like a true school psychologist, was to ask the criteria for “giftedness.” While I expected to get a run-down of assessment tools and standardized tests, the response I got was something far different: At Corbett Prep, giftedness, has more to do with a mindset for working with students than a numeric criteria or qualifying test score. There, “giftedness” is considered inherent to every child. That is, every child is thought to possess unique strengths and talents, and therefore, viewed as possessing something wonderful to gift to the world. Both professionally and personally, the idea of finding the wonderful in every child has always resonated with me . . . So, for me, discovering a school that strives to do the same in its day-to-day interactions with students was a breath of fresh air.
Speaking of fresh air, students at Corbett Prep are privy to lot of it. The physical setting of the school is lovely . . . but not in a chiseled shrubs and carved out flowerbeds sort of way. Much like the school’s philosophy, the campus is far more free-flowing and organic. Ramped walkways scroll between department buildings through lush Floridian greenery. A serene lake lies at the school’s center. Overgrown gardens mark spaces where children have the chance to get their hands dirty and to learn to take care of the things the earth produces. Wild peacocks roam the space and add to the scenery in a way that is nearly storybook-like. It is certainly an environment that invites creativity and exploration.
I think a good education is one that prepares students to become strong problem solvers and solid thinkers in the world outside. Corbett Prep classrooms are clearly structured with these goals in mind. Many classes are co-taught with dual instructors so that students experience teaching from more than one point of view. Corbett Prep classrooms also offer opportunities for dual language instruction (English-Spanish) as well as and multi-grade settings where students of different ages and abilities cooperatively learn together. At Corbett Prep, a popular mantra is “The best get better!” The school’s highly trained staff works to do just that by attending continuing education opportunities and professional development trainings on a weekly basis.
For me, both as a mom and a professional, education should be about the discovery and joy of learning just much as it is about academic achievement. That’s why I was so impressed with the diversity of material students have the chance to study at Corbett Prep. There, students have access to an interdisciplinary curriculum that attributes as much value to core academics as it does the arts, technology, and moral character. The idea behind the school’s holistic approach, is to capitalize on students’ strengths and to use those to propel their growth and development across disciplines. In fact, on any given day, students enrolled in the same course are likely to take home different assignments to explore the same material. Their assignments are based on what type of learner they are and their interests.
Coursework at Corbett Prep also places special emphasis on visual and performing arts. Theater classes are not secondary electives, but actually built into the core curriculum. In fact, every student participates in an on-stage performance at least once a year. Through participation in school productions, students are able to gain poise and confidence in their public speaking abilities – a skill often rated as the number one fear of many adults. What wowed me most about the school’s curriculum though, was its concern with cultivating not just good learners, but good people. Maybe it’s because the work of supporting students to be kind to themselves and others is one of my biggest life passions . . . but hearing about the many ways Corbett Prep emphasizes qualities like compassion, perseverance, and cooperation in and outside the classroom made both the professional Soand mom in me smile. Being on campus, I just got the sense that I was in a good place.
To learn more about Corbett Preparatory School of IDS, contact the school’s Admissions Office at 813-961-3087 and schedule your personal tour. You can also learn more about the unique philosophy behind a Corbett Prep education by checking out a copy of It’s All About Kids: Every Child Deserves a “Teacher of the Year”.