Ambleside School welcomes York as new principal, eyes expansion

RUSS YORK has taken over as the principal at Ambleside School, and in addition to leading its educational efforts, will also oversee an expansion into the high school grades next year. —Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke— Ambleside School welcomed Russ York to lead its educational efforts in Fredericksburg, and the new principal will oversee an expansion into the high school grades next year.

“I love it here,” York said of the move with his wife, Heather, and three daughters, ages five, three and one. “We grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but have really enjoyed the move to Fredericksburg.”

York said he was attracted to Ambleside for its educational philosophy and methodology.

“Having a founding philosophy as a measuring stick provides a constant guide to all our endeavors,” York said.

York referred to the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, considered one of just a few educational models, along with the Waldorf and Montessori, with a grounded philosophy.

Charlotte Mason was a British educator who penned six volumes of education philosophy for children, regardless of social class. Mason stressed that “living texts” should be studied — classic literary works, as opposed to dry textbooks.

Mason believed that students should take part in “narration,” where after a passage is studied, students “tell back” what they read, and then get at the idea through thoughtful discussion.

“The things that are distinctively different about an Ambleside education are that we believe children are persons, created in the image of God, and that we can’t rubber stamp their education; we all are different and we see things in different ways, tune into certain things that others don’t. The challenge is how do we educate fully?”

Part of this process is recognizing student strengths and weaknesses. Each semester, parents get a detailed “report of growth,” which gives personalized feedback about student progress, so parents and teachers can cultivate habits that will support areas weakness and areas of growth can be celebrated. “Our size allows that kind of feedback,” he said.

“We view weakness as nothing more than an opportunity for growth. When we see a student struggling with reading, we want the weakness to be addressed in order to cultivate habits that equip the student for growth,” he added.

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