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prairie creek overview













Prairie Creek Community School is a public charter school in rural south-central Minnesota. For more than 25 years, Prairie Creek teachers have been guided by the principles of progressive education, engaging our students in structured, meaningful work and authentic problem-solving. We currently have 180 K-5 students in nine mixed-grade classrooms.

Prairie Creek is located in Castle Rock, and is chartered by the Northfield School District. We draw students from neighboring towns and countryside. The school building sits on several acres of meadow and woodland, with a lively (and study-worthy) stream running across the northern border, a stand of larch trees to the south, spacious playing fields to the west, and a gravel road that connects to nearby farms to the east.

We welcome all students at Prairie Creek, and hold an 
admissions lottery every spring for our kindergarten and any openings in other grades.

History of the school
Prairie Creek was brought into being by a group of committed parents in 1982. They wanted to create a school their children would be excited to attend, one in which they would love learning. The group read books about education, took classes, and talked to many expertsand finally decided that the progressive philosophy matched the school they envisioned for their children.

In its second year, the private school moved to its current home in Castle Rock, just a few miles north of Northfield. The building had been a neighborhood school but had been closed for many years. Together, community members patched the hole in the roof, painted the classrooms, and finished the floors. The school added two new classrooms and a library in the late 1980s.

In 2002 Prairie Creek converted from a private to a public charter school. Progressive education is
a rarity in public schools; it's usually available only to those who can afford tuition. By converting to a charter, Prairie Creek has been able to open its doors much more widely and become a true community school.

In 2009 the school expanded once more, this time adding three new classrooms, a gymnasium, kitchen, music room, art room, special education rooms and resources, a five-acre sports field, and a spacious plaza. (Check out a student's rendering, here, and the architect's rendering of Prairie Creek's expansion!)



Throughout all of our changes, however,  the school’s mission has remained constant: 

Prairie Creek is a community school
 
Parents, teachers, staff, and students cooperate with one another and with others outside the school to create a joyful and challenging climate for learning.

Prairie Creek is a child-centered school
 
We help children discover the power and excitement of their minds, their feelings and their bodies, their relationships, their art. We assure children of their value, encourage their accomplishments, and respect their individual learning styles. We value diversity.

Prairie Creek is a progressive school
 
We emphasize cooperation, promote self-reflection, support innovation, and value change. We share our philosophy and practice with others and learn from them.

Prairie Creek aims to make the world a better place
 
We value justice, gender-fairness, and conflict resolution. We educate children to live as responsive, responsible members of their own communities, now and into the future.