What is STEAM?

Like the IB-PYP, it focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom.  At Valley Prep, two of the six IB-PYP themes will be STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).  The content of these STEAM-themes encourage collaboration and innovation.

What is IB-PYP?

“The PYP prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom.  It uses six transdisciplinary themes to organize curricular content.”


Why does Valley Prep plan to implement these programs?

The school was founded in 1957 with a philosophy of Holistic education.  Both IB-PYP and STEAM are holistic education models, thereby reinforcing the school’s mission and vision.

What are the PYP transdisciplinary themes?

There are six (broad-based) transdisciplinary themes which are used to organize the curriculum.  At the heart of this approach is the belief that by “connecting” the various subjects together, students are able to further develop their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.  A few of these themes include:  How the World Works & Where We are in Place & Time.  Each theme always provides a global-perspective to encourage international-mindedness and cultural understanding.

Are the IB-PYP (and STEAM) themes implemented throughout every school day?

No, at least not for the next few years.  There are six PYP transdisciplinary themes which are taught throughout the year.  At Valley Prep, two of these will be STEAM-related.  Presentation of each thematic unit can last for a few weeks, or more than a month, depending upon the content.  During these units, the content of each subject/lesson is related to the selected theme.  Valley Prep currently plans to implement two themes in 2016-17 … four themes in 2017-18 … and all six themes in 2018-19.

Can the school afford these prorgrams without significantly raising tuition?

Yes.  Valley Prep will apply for PYP Candidate Status in the Spring of 2017, which costs approximately $10,000.  Once approved, there is an annual membership fee of approximately $10,000 (not including teacher-training).  Valley Prep will purchase STEAM-kits at an annual cost of approximately $20,000.  These kits include:  lesson plans, resources, and teacher-training.  These costs have been added to our 5-year budget.  We anticipate annual tuition increases of approximately 3%.

Will these programs change the current curriculum at Valley Prep?

No.  Our written curriculum remains the same.  PYP and STEAM give greater structure to an existing program, but does not change the “topics” that are taught in each subject (i.e. it does not change “what” students learn, but rather alters “how” they learn).

Do these programs change our accreditation status?

No.  We will still be accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Within five years, we will also apply to become an IB World School, then becoming an official member of the world-wide network of more than 4000 schools.

What if my child is entering Valley Prep from (or transferring to) a non IB-PYP school?

The IB-PYP program presents the same curricular content as students would learn in any school.  It simply organizes the content thematically, thereby encouraging the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills (which would benefit any child who plans to attend any school).