Cover Stories

Art Focus: The Biome Foundation

The Biome School reflects its name well. In science, a biome refers to a population of flora and fauna that share common characteristics, allowing them to thrive in the same environment. Similarly, at the tuition-free, public charter school, founded in 2015 in the Central West End, teachers, students, families and the community all work toward a unified goal of inspiring learning and fostering success— and it’s working.

To support this academic ecosystem, The Biome Foundation provides funding and resources to help students thrive. Currently, the school serves kindergarten through fourth grade, but it will add a fifth-grade class this fall. Its unique project-based curriculum helps children cultivate their interests and talents. Lessons are centered around students’ curiosity, with an emphasis on STEAM. Students are encouraged to apply their critical thinking skills and knowledge to the real world. Foundation president Mark Kent says partnerships with community organizations like the Saint Louis Zoo help create a school without walls. “We inspire students’ love of learning in and outside of the classroom through innovative, hands-on experiences,” he says.

To help emphasize the ‘A’ in STEAM, The Biome School is developing an enhanced music program. “Along with math, reading and science, the fine arts are at the core of our curriculum,” Kent says. Students will receive vocal instruction and learn to play a variety of musical instruments to help them further develop concepts taught in other subjects.

A former professional opera singer, Kent understands the importance of the arts and how they relate to critical thinking and teamwork. “Cooperation is paramount to any sort of ensemble,” he notes. “Students will learn to work together with their classmates and teachers to make music. We are helping them develop the skills they need to succeed in life at an early age.”

To support this new project, the foundation is hosting an opera concert, An Evening at the Opera with The Biome School, April 13 at the Ethical Society of Saint Louis. The event will feature performances from world-renowned singers Morris Robinson and Christine Brewer. Robinson is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera and has performed around the world in productions like Aida, Les Troyens and Salome. A Grammy winner, Brewer was named one of the top 20 sopranos of all time by the BBC. “Having these two performers share the stage is an amazing opportunity,” Kent says. “This caliber of world-class operatic singing isn’t something you come across every day.”

Robinson, who will be joined on stage by students, says he is thrilled to help kids explore the arts. “More students need the chance to pursue the arts at a young age,” he says. “The Biome School’s new music program will allow them to nurture those interests.”

Located in the Central West End, The Biome School is an unique charter school offering an innovative STEAM curriculum that engages children in hands-on learning. An Evening at the Opera with The Biome School, April 13 at The Ethical Society of Saint Louis, supports its new music program. Pictured on the cover: special guest performer Morris Robinson. For more information, call 314.531.0982 or visit the thebiomeschool.org

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Photo courtesy of The Biome Foundation

Pictured at top: The Biome students experiences the arts first-hand.
Photo: Bill Barrett

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