Feynman School grows and thrives under guidance of founder Susan Sowalsky Gold '88
When Holton-Arms alumna Susan Sowalsky Gold ’88 and her husband Robert were searching for a preschool for their gifted and lively daughter, they couldn’t find what they were looking for. “We started researching programs,” explained Gold, and discovered successful schools for exceptional students in cities like Seattle, Denver, New York, and Los Angeles, but none in the Washington, D.C. area. So they decided to start their own.
The Golds consulted experts, including faculty from the Center for Gifted Education at William and Mary College, and did their homework. Armed with extensive research and a remarkable Advisory Board, Feynman School opened its doors in the fall of 2010 with preschool and pre-kindergarten classes and a focus on the sciences. “Children are so naturally curious” and science is the “best way to exercise that curiosity,” explained Susan Gold.
|In addition to managing admissions, Susan Sowalsky Gold '88 also gets to spend time in the classroom.|
Beyond just academic subjects, Feynman and its teachers emphasize making students part of the educational process. In each classroom, student questions guide the path of instruction throughout the year. With input from their 3-5 year olds, the current curriculum has developed to include units on architecture, weather, physics and force, and plant growth. In addition, the instruction is bilingual. Each classroom of 14 students has two flexible and passionate teachers—one of whom is a fluent Spanish speaker whose role is, in part, to integrate language learning into their daily studies.
Under the guidance of its founders and Advisory Board, Feynman is dedicated to “using all best practices from the world of gifted education.” Gold explained, “We hope to have a place for those children to feel like they’re valued and help them reach their potential…No matter what kind of learner you are, you deserve to reach your potential.”
This fall, Feynman is adding first grade to its campus in Bethesda, Md. The school is aiming to grow by a grade each year until it reaches eighth grade. In addition to expanding, Gold explained that their goal is “to become a preeminent model for gifted education across the country.” Both of Gold’s young daughters attend the school.
“My experiences at Holton were the best,” said Gold. “The best four years that I experienced at school.” In thinking of Feynman, Gold also recalled Holton’s motto, saying “I’m making my way.”
Good luck to Susan and to the Feynman School!