Art, drama, music, and physical education. At other schools those are becoming endangered species, courtesy of budget cuts. At Baker, they remain a vibrant part of student life, and are critical contributors to the understanding of the interrelated nature of all disciplines.
The Art program promotes a deep awareness of, and appreciation for, the presence of art in students’ lives. It also fosters a broader perception of their environment and a greater understanding of historical and cultural perspectives. Opportunities for creative exploration and creative problem solving are interwoven with skill development through studio activities using a variety of media and techniques. Integration with classroom curricula is another way of enriching students’ understanding and awareness.
Drama is an integral part of the Baker academic curriculum, one that uniquely integrates major fields of study into its own. Systematic and continued drama/theater experiences at Baker provide students with opportunities to master basic skills, to inquire and discover, and to explore values. Some past collaborations include the study of: Japan, Architecture and Geometry, Encounters in History, the Artic and Inuit people, Fairy Tales, Egyptian Mythology, Family Stories, Storytelling, Opera, and Diversity.
The Music program is an eclectic general music program for students kindergarten through eighth grade. The music staff works to develop each child’s natural responsiveness to the art of music through singing, moving, listening, playing, speaking, creating, reading, writing, and analyzing. Every effort is made to recognize and respect the unique gifts and interests of each student and to incorporate these into a harmonious whole.
The Spanish program imparts to the students a working knowledge of the Spanish language and an understanding of Hispanic culture. This is done by integrating Spanish instruction with classroom teacher units, while supplementing these lessons with others covering vocabulary, grammar, and cultural history as well as special projects.
Technology is interwoven with the classroom curricula in grades one through eight. Students learn basic skills such as touch typing, as well as more sophisticated media skills such as the authoring of websites, animation, and movie development. Technology staff work closely with classroom teachers to find web resources, software, and other media that enrich the curricula. Class time on computers varies depending on the project; every Team in the Middle classroom is outfitted with five laptops and most classes schedule the Technology Lab for 1-2 hours per week. In addition, each Baker classroom has a digital camera, use of a video camera and a DVD player, and access to the school iPad carts. Every classroom. Kindergarten through middle school, is also equipped with an interactive whiteboard. Finally, a dedicated Mac Suite supports visual arts and graphic design.
Physical Education classes are held five days a week for children in first through eighth grades. Physical education classes provide an opportunity for children to learn about the world and their place in it through physical movement, with an emphasis on teamwork, cooperation, skill development and fitness. The program has been developed to allow maximum participation in all activities and to provide optimal physical, emotional, and intellectual growth for each student. Swimming is an important component of the Physical Education program and occurs twice a week for children in first through fifth grades, and once a week for students in Middle School.
Baker’s Outdoor Education program provides students Outward Bound-like personal growth experiences, opportunities to strengthen bonds between classmates and teachers, and the ability to gain confidence by applying knowledge gained in the classroom to unfamiliar circumstances. For example, fourth- and fifth-graders travel to Springfield, IL and experience first-hand the echoes of Lincoln and reflect on their study of the Civil War. Sixth-graders camp overnight and explore ecology at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Seventh-graders investigate the marshes and pine groves of Camp Edwards in East Troy, WI. Eighth-graders journey to the Shawnee National Forest in downstate Illinois for a week-long service project as the culmination of their Outdoor Education at Baker. In addition to these experiences and more, an annual Middle School bike trip enables students to test their mettle and measure their yearly progress on a challenging all-day excursion from the campus to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and back.
Baker students come to the library to experience an environment which nurtures exploration and a love of reading and literature. With nearly 24,000 volumes, the library serves students and faculty alike. Library staff work with classroom teachers to assure that resources and programs support and enrich curricula at all grade levels. The library works in tandem with the technology program to help children become skilled researchers. The library staff is committed to the realization of each child’s potential as a literate person by such means as: making recommendations using a motivation-based approach, connecting children to the idea that there are real people behind every book they read, supporting best-practice philosophy through read-aloud, and encouraging listening skills, visual literacy, and all the abilities that enable children to fully receive the best and most informative gifts that the world of books has to offer.
Students in grades four through eight may participate in school-sponsored sports teams. Teams include soccer and flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track and field in the spring. Teams practice before and after school depending on the sport and season, and compete against peer schools.