Quadrat Academy: A Unique Learning Model for Unique Learners
Quadrat students will stand out for their ability to think critically and creatively.
Svetlana Tikhonov has lived in more than a dozen countries and has seen how schools all over the world educate children. But as she watched her son move through different schools — public and private — she realized the only times he really seemed to learn anything was when a teacher worked outside the “norms” of the standard education system.
Tikhonov became convinced that “traditional education has become more or less obsolete both in format and content. Even today, the gap between industry expectations and what we teach in schools is tremendous, and it will only increase in the future.”
So, she set out to make a new model, and founded Quadrat Academy in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood for students in sixth through 12th grade. “It is time to bring the education system into today’s reality,” Tikhonov said. “I believe we owe this to our kids.”
Quadrat pulls from a number of different educational models and philosophies to give students something truly unique. The school incorporates Montessori principles, for example, by using “guides” instead of “teachers” to lead student-centered learning environments, and putting students in mixed-age groups. Quadrat is the only school above sixth grade in the Philadelphia area that uses a Montessori program.
The Progressive educational approach is also involved, as is the notion that everyone learns best from experiencing the ideas and skills they’re trying to absorb. Exposure to a variety of real life experiences and practitioners is also critical. For example, Quadrat has partnered with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) for an art lab where students can shadow and learn from professional artists. “We believe education should be an inspired exploration journey,” Tikhonov said. “This cannot be achieved in classrooms.”
Students also help run the school, from cooking lunch to helping design innovative teaching formats. In the Innovation Lab, they can make their dreams a reality through experimentation, trial and error, and collaborative work. “The goal is to prepare young adults to think for themselves and act for themselves and others with purpose, effectiveness, and empathy when we are not with them,” Tikhonov said.
Quadrat students can also take Advanced Placement classes and will study all the traditional college-prep subjects, Tikhonov said. But Quadrat students will stand out for their ability to think critically and creatively when it’s time to apply for colleges.
“We design all programs and learning journeys to give students the opportunity to build their voices, passions, and an individual path,” said Tikhonov. “We seek to develop entrepreneurs, critical thinkers and innovators — every one of our students will have a unique story.”
Photographs provided by Quadrat Academy.
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