Building SOLID foundations in ACADEMICS…

“I belong to a community…”

In our Lower School classrooms, students have a loving home-away-from-home. Our community of learners is a positive, supportive, and safe place where children are excited to go each day because they feel like they belong. The social-emotional methodologies we employ, like Responsive Classroom, give each student the tools they need to be kind, sympathetic, and self-advocating individuals. Providing this inclusive atmosphere allows our students the freedom to be themselves, strengthening our whole community.

“I can do anything I set my mind to…”

PNA students are given opportunities to build, explore, create, and learn in ways that are impactful. As a 21st century school, we use Project Based Learning (PBL) methodologies to engage students in hands-on, real-world, and personally meaningful projects. We intentionally develop their growth mindset so they begin to view roadblocks as avenues to learn in order to progress towards their goals; students who foster this mindset understand that mistakes are part of the learning process. Here at PNA, students aren’t afraid to take risks, imagine, experiment, re-work, or investigate, because they know they have the power to do anything.

“I am excited to learn new things…”

Excitement to learn is modeled throughout the PNA community, it is demonstrated by all of our faculty who are lifelong learners themselves. This enthusiasm provides space for each student to collaborate with their peers and teachers while receiving individualized instruction in a holistic and authentic environment. Our programs engage students through various modes of inquiry and through hands-on explorative projects, while also continuing to build on the fundamental academic skills. Using differentiated instruction we use advanced methodologies and a research-based curriculum, while also teaching leveled math. When students have the foundational skills to be confident, joyful learners, they are excited to be engaged in the classroom.


How big are the classes?
With intentionally small classes, limited to 18 students, teachers are able to provide individualized instruction to students by focusing on their growth according to their own personal development.
What opportunities are available outside of the classroom?
Teachers have the freedom to set up field trips throughout the Anchorage area as they relate to class curriculum. Field trips to the Performing Arts Center, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Campbell Creek Science Center are routine. In addition all students are involved in PNA’s community events throughout the year including the fall concert, a day of service, the spring science fair, a student art exhibit, and the spring musical. 

Lower School students participate in overnight field trips each spring. These trips are related to the curriculum and may include a study of sea life in Seward, mountain ecosystems in Denali National Park, or tidal invertebrates in Kachemak Bay.

How is social and emotional learning (SEL) implemented into the program?

PNA’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program is implemented as early as our preschool. It is designed to build a foundation for each child’s personal well-being in order to be confident, capable, and compassionate individuals. Here we spend time developing interpersonal skills, and building relationships between students and teachers. Laying the foundation for these skills helps to foster a cohesive and supportive community where students can not only learn, but they can thrive.

These SEL skills are implemented into our program through daily morning meetings, fall retreats, and intensive focus on student hopes and dreams. In the first six weeks of school students and faculty lay the groundwork for higher academic achievement in their community with shared purpose. Faculty and staff consistently model communication and collaboration in the classroom, helping to instill these principles in student’s daily lives. Paired with cultivating the PNA mission, reinforcing these principles helps create a culture of inclusion, respect, kindness, and responsibility.

How are 21st Century Skills developed?

The “4C’s” of a 21st Century education: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are at the core of our educational philosophy. The development of these important life skills are embedded into our program in many ways. We have chosen Project Based Learning (PBL) as a pillar to support this skillset; as a methodology, PBL requires students to look at real world problems and find solutions for them, thus creating authentic engagement within the classroom and in the community. With these foundational skills, students are well equipped to navigate their way through school and beyond in an ever changing world.

How does the PNA community support academics?

The PNA community provides a positive environment for every student to feel supported in reaching their academic potential. Together we are empathetic and respectful towards each other, providing space for collaboration and communication. In each program, students develop a set of guidelines for their classroom that are based on fairness. Every class begins the day with a Morning Meeting to establish routine and to set expectations. Through all this students feel encouraged to take risks and to try new things.