I always knew I wanted to work with children, even when I was still a child myself. I would arrange my collection of stuffed animals in imaginary desks so I could play teacher, which consisted of delivering a dynamic math lesson and grading papers. Of course, I came to realize that my passion for education extended way beyond grading papers; that is something you may never hear a teacher list as their highlight of the profession. My passion for education came from the motivation to inspire a true love of learning in each and every one of my students. But over the past few years, I have realized that my love for education is also self-serving. Every year, my students remind me of what it is like to be unapologetically honest, creative, and unique. They inspire me to maintain an optimistic and boundless outlook on life. This is something that happens at BASIS Chandler Primary North each and every day.
At BASIS Chandler Primary North, we have an exceptional group of students, teachers, and staff. Our students’ talents extend beyond the school day, and our teachers’ impact surpasses lessons taught in the classroom. Our school is unique because we not only value academic accomplishments, but we also celebrate the positive impact that our school has on society.
In addition to making honor roll grades at her BASIS Curriculum School, 3rd grader Gabriella Riccobono is a child blogger for Sea World, works with Sea Rescue to save injured animals, and rock climbs competitively. Gabriella has always been interested in animals. “In preschool, when other kids were playing tag, I was digging in the sandbox for ‘rolly pollys,'” she explained. As Gabriella got older, her love for animals continued to grow. Last year, she had the opportunity to rescue an injured Sea Lion. “I had conflicting feelings,” Gabriella said. “I was scared and excited at the same time. I knew I was encountering a wild animal.” While I was interviewing Gabriella about her once-in-a-lifetime Sea Rescue experience, I could not stop admiring her confidence and poise. A nine-year-old was recounting her experience more eloquently and passionately than most adults I speak with on a daily basis. And speaking of BASIS (no pun intended), this is what makes our schools so special. Students develop critical life skills that extend beyond being successful in the classroom. They develop the confidence and passion they need to have a true impact on the world.
At BASIS Chandler Primary North, our students understand that the opportunity to develop their talent is limitless — and our teachers provide students with endless chances to explore their passions. Gabriella’s favorite teacher is Mr. Shaffer, who teaches 1st through 4th grade engineering. As he pointed out, “Gabby is a very kind and inquisitive student. Her passion for learning is matched with her compassion for all living organisms. She will often voluntarily miss a few minutes of her recess to stay in the classroom and ask well-thought questions regarding anything she’s currently curious about. Her interest has inspired other students in her class to ask more questions, and strive for knowledge.”
The BASIS Curriculum celebrates curiosity. Mrs. Riccobono was thrilled when she found a school that supports Gabriella’s passion for animals. Mrs. Riccobono told me, “Her 1st grade teacher [at another school] called me saying that she understood that children dream, but Gabby would not stop saying that she worked at Sea World. This is when I knew that wasn’t the right school for her.” Mrs. Riccobono was thrilled when she enrolled Gabriella in 2nd grade at BASIS Chandler Primary North. “We love that the school supports her passion for science. It is refreshing being at a school that celebrates a desire for knowledge.”
When Gabriella grows up, she wants to pursue a full-time veterinarian position at Sea World. She is currently working on gaining experience to build her veterinary resume. “This summer I am probably going to volunteer at a pet shop because I should learn about all animals,” Gabriella explained. “I need to be well-rounded before working at Sea World as a vet.” Gabriella is truly an accomplished child. But this is not unusual at our school, or any campus which teaches the BASIS Curriculum.
Further, it’s not just Gabriella; wonderful as she is, she’s just one example of so very many. Each of our students contributes a unique quality to help build the BASIS Chandler Primary North school culture. I have the best job in the world, and it is not because I have the pleasure of continuing my passion for grading papers. It is because I am constantly inspired by remarkable students like Gabriella, and her many classmates and peers, who are the future of our society.
Dania Gold is Head of School at BASIS Chandler Primary North.