Cover Stories

Taking Flight: Forsyth School

For those of us who aren’t ornithologists, the word “eyas” may be unfamiliar. It refers to an unfledged hawk or falcon, one who is ready to be taken from the nest for training. The term also is the name of Forsyth School’s new early childhood program—appropriate since the school’s mascot is a falcon. The independent elementary school in the Wydown-Forsyth Historic District engages students with a challenging curriculum while providing a supportive atmosphere that promotes a love of learning and self-confidence.

Eyas launched this fall, but Forsyth School has a long history of early childhood development. The idea to expand the existing program to include 2-year-olds came from observing the community, according to lower school division director Jason Hooper. “High-quality early childhood education is important, but there are not many programs for 2-year-olds that have an educational foundation as part of a school,” he notes. “Every year, our families would ask about expanding our early childhood admissions, so we knew that there was a need. We felt well suited to meet it and started researching best practices.”

Unlike a traditional day care, students in Eyas engage with subjects like art, language and science through purposeful play under the supervision of experienced teachers. “Forsyth’s whole mission is built around balancing a challenging curriculum with the joy of learning,” Hooper notes. “We want our students to work through problems on their own and try new things. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they will succeed, and the other 1%, we can help guide them. It’s an important part of development that can often be a missed step.”

This application of Forsyth’s educational approach to its early childhood program is something that makes the school unique. Hooper notes that one of Eyas’ biggest benefits is that it is designed to give students an additional year of their Forsyth experience. “The program is not something separate; it’s part of the school,” he explains. “The activities and experiences of our 2-year-olds are going to help inform the lessons they will be taught as sixth-graders. We love being able to work with children for the longest stretch of their educational career. It’s an honor we don’t take lightly.”

Eyas is housed in the school’s former, stand-alone science center. It was renovated during the summer to prepare for its inaugural class of little ones, and the space is now nicknamed the “Falcon’s Nest.” Its central location offers access to Forsyth’s outdoor resources, such as playground areas and the butterfly garden. “Students have spaces to run, play and do the gross motor movements that are so important at 2,” Hooper says. “The environment comes together to create a very homey, joyful place for children to learn.”

Eyas students follow the regular school year calendar, and Hooper says they already have brought a new energy to Forsyth’s campus. “It’s been so much fun to watch them approach school with such excitement,” he notes. “For them, every lesson is magical, and we want to preserve that sense of wonder. If we do our job correctly, our students will not only find academic success, but also a lifelong love of learning.

Forsyth School, an independent elementary school in the city of St. Louis, serves students age 2 through grade six. Pictured on the cover: Its new Eyas Program serves 2- and 3-year-olds. For more information, call 314.726.4542 or visit forsythschool.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography

Pictured at top: Eyas students enjoy outdoor play.
Photo: Colin Miller of Strauss Peyton Photography 

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