Keeping up with technology is paramount in our children’s education. But so is ensuring tomorrow’s leaders have a foundation in basic skills. While these two educational models may seem at odds, St. Augustine’s Cristina Pope and Teri Aboulafia have successfully married the two in The Pioneer School.
The Pioneer School is a private, non-profit middle school that blends high-tech education with the teaching of life skills.
Students take classes by participating in the Florida Virtual School online platform. The Pioneer School enriches students’ classroom education by facilitating various programs including conversational Spanish, drama, boat building, ‘Brain Hour’, 4-H Leadership and Enterprise Club, homesteading, web design, public speaking and handwork.
In the mornings, students cover all of their core classes. Through the afternoon’s hands-on learning experiences, The Pioneer School ties students’ core studies to relevant life applications, developing students’ skills in leadership, citizenship, entrepreneurship, emotional intelligence, technology and practical life responsibilities.
Through this multi-faceted approach, The Pioneer School prepares students for selective and competitive programs in county high schools, such as IB/AICE, career academies and arts programs.
Taking middle school education to the next level, The Pioneer School also honors the sensitive period of both physical and social/emotional growth during adolescent years. The school uses best practices in education to provide a meaningful, relevant and deeply experiential learning journey.
The Pioneer School was co-founded in 2015 by Aboulafia and Pope when they partnered to provide families with middle school children the option of a more organic, multi-dimensional, interactive educational experience.
A brilliant and seasoned educator, The Pioneer School’s principal, Cristina Pope, graduated from Oxford University and has taught children and young adults for years. She is fluent in Spanish, devours literature and runs a sustainable permaculture homestead with a small herd of dairy goats and many chickens. Pope demands excellence from her students and encourages them to set their sights high in all endeavors. She is also an expert in “emotional intelligence” and works with students to foster the innate skills and character of her students.
Teri Aboulafia is The Pioneer School’s administrative director. For nearly 10 years, she has worked closely with her own children’s Montessori education supporting this instructional model through marketing, fundraising, networking, PTO and substitute teaching.
Meet Pope, Aboulafia and The Pioneer School students when you visit their booth at Made in St. Augustine®! In addition, The Pioneer School will host one of the festival’s Junior Made Stations to provide attendees their own hands-on learning experience.