By Chris Weiss, Head of Lower School/Assistant Head of School, Trinity Episcopal School
When Trinity Episcopal School was formed in the late 1990s the founders were absolutely convinced that Uptown Charlotte was the right location for two main reasons: to provide children access to Charlotte’s cultural venues to enhance learning, and to enable students to serve our neighbors through community partnerships. Trinity opened its doors in August of 2000 and our students became regular fixtures of Charlotte’s urban landscape, walking to the main library to check out books and becoming scientists alongside the experts at Discovery Place, and traveling back in time to the New South as part of the Levine Museum of History. I’ve always loved hearing from local business leaders and our Uptown neighbors how much they enjoy seeing Trinity kids crossing the street or carrying armloads of books as they ventured through the City.
For the past 15 years we’ve been known as the school “with the longest hallways” in all of Charlotte. When ImaginOn was built we were asked to be a part of the process of construction and design, and we toured the building in its earliest stages, eager for its completion. As an Episcopal school, serving others is part of our mission and core values, and our proximity allows students in each grade-level to form service learning partnerships with Urban Ministries, the Metro School, Loaves and Fishes, Friendship Trays and more. I often hear our 3rd graders asking their teachers, “when will we visit our homeless friends again?” Since our goal is to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with those in our community who are different from ourselves, students are excited discover that these visits are ongoing throughout the year.
I’m lucky to have been a part of Trinity from the early days and have enjoyed watching our school and the City of Charlotte grow together. We originally walked to Morehead Street to see Children’s Theatre performances (now, that’s a hike!), but when they moved to ImaginOn, we were able to attend even more shows during the school year. And when the Charlotte Knights baseball team had opening day last May we walked all 430 students, with 8th graders & kindergartners hand-in-hand, to meet the team and welcome them to the neighborhood.
Recently, one of our neighbors & learning partners, Discovery Place, opened a brand new Education Studio to offer professional development in STEM. STEM learning integrates science, technology, engineering and math principles into a single activity and has evolved into a recognized method of instruction and pedagogy. Because of our close proximity, Trinity’s teachers have been able to attend dozens of workshops at Discovery Place, including 3D printing, Engineering is Elementary, physics, electricity and more. Several Trinity faculty have even been selected as STEM fellows. This partnership provided us with the inspiration to launch our annual K-8 STEM program called All Trinity Builds where students are presented with a special engineering design challenge. Two years ago when faced with a deteriorating playground, our Kindergarten teachers suggested that we use that real-world problem to challenge our students to design a new playground for our school. Our students were able to brainstorm, design and present their playground concepts to a panel of experts. Today, our new playground represents many of the ideas that our children designed as part of that engineering challenge (well, except for the zip line across the parking lot and the waterfall!).
This year, as we celebrate our 15th anniversary, I can’t imagine Trinity Episcopal School in a different location than First Ward — just a hop, skip and a jump away from the skyscrapers, sports venues, and community partners that make our City so special. So much of our school’s culture and the ultimate educational experience of each child is connected to the urban experience that we enjoy each day. Come see the Trinity difference for yourself – we are nestled on 9th Street in the Garden District in Uptown.
Trinity Episcopal School: Creating Scholars, Nurturing Spirituality, Embracing Diversity/strong>