Member Spotlight

Turning Sun School

Alicia Karpick, Head of Curriculum

Turning Sun School

Turning Sun School, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has two campuses with a community of over 200 families. Our campuses are located on very different settings: one in an urban neighborhood, and one on 13 acres of forest.

Our schoolwide mission is to build a welcoming and collaborative community of parents and educators that inspires children to realize their infinite capabilities, explore and appreciate their natural world and local community, and discover the joy of seeking and constructing their own knowledge.

Turning Sun is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and place-based education. The children, teachers, and parents work on year-long projects together following the methods of the project approach.  The local Atlanta community and natural world are major parts of every project. Turning Sun has a strong anti-bias program, and is non-religious, vegetarian, and holds weekly yoga classes. The school does not celebrate traditional holidays, but celebrates the changing of the seasons.

All class projects are important and drive the direction of the school.  Here are some highlights of some of the projects we have done:

  • A long-term collaboration with  local artist, Kyle Brooks, that spanned over several years. We visited his murals and he came into the school frequently to work alongside the children.
  • A deep exploration and collaboration with the Atlanta BeltLine Project (a path of 22 miles around the city that will connect all in-town Atlanta neighborhoods). The children designed their own model of the BeltLine, recreated the work of and interviewed artists that have art on the Beltline, and wrote letters to a homeless cat that lived on the BeltLine.  In addition, the children had a booth at a BeltLine event to tell other kids about the BeltLine, and educators met with BeltLine officials regularly to track the progress of the BeltLine and to create curriculum.
  • An art show at the High Museum based on a current exhibition of modern artists, Picasso to Warhol. The class spent the year celebrating the art of the exhibit.
  • A partnership with our local transit authority, MARTA, which included presenting the ideas of the children to the CEO, and riding the buses and train. The children also created a campaign to increase ridership on MARTA.
  • A partnership with GA Organics to create cooking videos for preschool-age children in GA.
  • A photo session with world-renowned photographer, Thomas Struth, at the GA Aquarium.
  • Exploration and collaboration of farm-to-school with an urban farm, Truly Living Well, in Martin Luther King’s former neighborhood. The children created a Community-Supported Agriculture program with the farm, which included dividing, weighing, and bagging the produce weekly.
  • A partnership with SOPO, a bicycle cooperative, to bring 2-year-old children into the repair shop. Also bike advocates came to the school to work together to take apart bikes and help the children understand the mechanics of a bike.
  • A partnership with 25 local Atlanta artists to create a zine out of art designs. This was a collaboration between the artists and the children, and included a show of the original artwork at a local gallery.
  • The creation of a forest pre-kindergarten with dedicated forest time and exploration.
  • A partnership with GA Equality to further anti-bias education in preschools in Georgia.

Turning Sun presents at NAEYC annually and does educator exchange days where educators are invited in to tour our schools and ask questions.  We also hosted participants from the Nature-Based Preschool National Conference last August for a morning of sharing and collaboration. We have presented at multiple GA Organics Conferences and a Farm-to-Preschool Summit. We plan to hold a pre-conference in November 2017 before the NAEYC Conference in Atlanta. 

Following the work of Turning Sun is easy: You can find us on Facebook and Instagram.  We also have a curriculum blog that you can sign up for by emailing [email protected].