Message from the Head of School

Message from Elaine Christensen

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Open Window School, a kindergarten through eighth grade independent school dedicated to nurturing and inspiring students of high intellectual potential. While many schools have intellectually gifted students and programs, Open Window is a unique learning environment in which every aspect of the school has been designed for gifted learners. We believe our students are children first, gifted second; we adhere to our five core values; and we focus on meeting the academic and social and emotional needs of our students so they will realize their potential.

Open Window’s students are enthusiastically engaged in learning, supported by well-trained and caring teachers who work in partnership with parents and guardians to ensure the very best opportunities for every child. The Open Window community embraces both our common focus on gifted children and the diverse range of unique cultural, religious, and experiential experiences of our families.
Some may question why gifted students need their own distinct academic program. These students thrive when given a faster pace, deeper and more complex content, teachers that "get" them, and a peer group that shares their passion for learning. I know this because I raised two gifted girls. Whether in our lower or middle school, Open Window students are immersed in authentic, real-world problem solving, surrounded by a community where it is cool to be smart. As the News section of this website indicates; Open Window students have the opportunity to do amazing things!
In my opening speech to the faculty and staff this year, I framed the challenges that lay ahead in the context of our thirty-seven-year history as a school. Open Window School was founded in 1985 by a group of parents, just like many of you. Its first home was a church basement. These were parents of gifted kids, kids who were insatiable, curious, intense, probably emotional. I imagine kids who played chess, or read novels, or did complex math problems at a younger age than their peers, kids who were obsessed with knowing the name of every dinosaur or species of bird, kids who would not wear shirts with tags, picky eaters, kids who got scared when they thought about the vastness of space, who worried about current events, kids who thought deeply about justice and fairness. This group of parents somehow found each other and had the courage to imagine a school, and then build it.
Thirty- seven years went by. The school became established, and it grew. It moved out of the church basement and into the Lake Heights YMCA in Newcastle. It moved from the YMCA to Cougar Mountain. On Cougar Mountain, it added a middle school in 2007. Policies and practices were put in place. Curriculum and pedagogies were refined. Important events and rituals were established such as the Kindergarten Parade, Second Grade Toy Company, “Rufus” the bobcat, a debate program, Pizza Fridays, kindergarten/eighth grade buddies, and Hallmark Trips. The staff grew to almost 100 people. Through it all, Open Window stayed true to the values and principles on which it was founded—Children First, Gifted Second, the importance of supporting both head and heart, and the power of community.
For thirty-seven years, Open Window has existed to nurture and inspire students of high intellectual potential, and we are poised and ready to continue to do that good work going forward. The challenges we face with Covid are universal, and we are as prepared for them as any school, anywhere. We have the right people. We have the resources. We have 360 students who are hungry to learn. We are ready to get started.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about Open Window. While no website can completely capture the dynamic environment that defines this unique school, I hope that your exploration will provide you a taste of our amazing OWS community.
Go Bobcats!

Elaine Christensen
Head of School
Open Window School provides a challenging academic curriculum blended with nurturing support from teachers that prepares students for long-term success.