From the Head of School

Dear Prairie Families,

Happy Thanksgiving!

As winter fully settles in, we have much to be thankful for including our families, each other and the school that connects us.   I hope you all will spend time together with your families this week enjoying the innocent adventures of your children’s play.  Childhood only happens once and it should be joyful.

The steady bombardment of images of the world being torn apart by conflict and uncertainty will not stop.  The violence in Europe, Africa and the Middle East along with the debate here in the USA over the appropriate use of force by the police are truly matters of life and death that sow fear and ignite a wide range of emotions in all of us.  We are connected to many of these conflicts through personal experience, family, friends and Prairie alumni who are serving in the armed forces as well as studying and living in almost every area of conflict around the world.  Current Prairie parents live in France, Ukraine and other communities raked by violence. Helping your children understand these challenges and preparing them to lead and thrive in an uncertain future is a task we share with you, but I hope you will take a short break from the real world and enjoy each other’s company this Thanksgiving.

I also hope you will join me in being thankful for all of the people at Prairie who have committed their careers and lives to helping our children become their best selves.  Our school exists to prepare our children to thrive as leaders in every aspect of their lives and we have been able to accomplish this mission because of the dedicated professionals who work here.

For our young students, they are the calm in the storm and a beacon of safety and warmth.  As they grow older the staff helps them develop the critical thinking skills that enable them to see the complexity of issues and articulate and support nuanced opinions.  The Prairie faculty models curiosity, empathy and resilience while diligently working to grow a little bit better each and every day. This commitment to growth helps our students develop into young adults who respect those with whom they disagree, who are comfortable with the uncomfortable, and who avoid the urge to simplify everything down to binary options. With their adult mentors, our students develop a strong sense of shared commitment and desire to lead lives of purpose and curiosity.

This has been a great fall of adventurous learning for our students, who are constantly posing questions, searching for answers and then sharing those answers across a range of mediums.  To name a few:

  • Our physics students are learning to measure and calculate reactions and sharing their results with video lab reports;
  • Our 7th graders have been studying marsh ecosystems in the Horicon Marsh;
  • Our 6th graders have been working in all of their classes to study the challenges of unclean water and learning to filter and clean water;
  • Our 3rd graders created displays on Racine’s history that are currently exhibited at the Racine Historical Society;
  • 8th graders produced their first formal research papers;
  • Statistics students collected data on shoe size, height and length of stride to develop two regression equations to determine Johnathan Wallace’s killer in the murder mystery, Tracks of a Killer;
  • In physical education, our primary students created blueprints and then constructed the buildings they designed; and
  • 9th grade English students conducted a jury trial in the case of the State of Uruk v. King Gilgamesh.

These examples of critical thinking, creative problem solving and communication challenges are just a few of the opportunities for intellectual growth our students encounter on a daily basis.  In addition to academics, our students are charged by their Prairie mentors each and every day to create inspiring works of art.  The Primary School’s collaboration with our resident artist, Bill Reid, resulted in an amazing new entrance to the Primary School Library; students’ individual works cover the halls, seamlessly intermingling with our permanent collection.

Prairie students also collaborate and strive for artistic and athletic excellence on our courts, fields and stage. This fall we saw a hilarious production of Leaving Iowa, multiple outstanding concerts and a State Championship for the girls’ golf team!

It has been a great fall for our school and I hope you will agree with me that it is a truly a privilege to be a part of the Prairie community and have our children work with so many amazing educators who are committed to our mission.

I have one final thank you I would like to share.  I am truly thankful for all of the people, past and present, who have philanthropically supported our school.  As you approach the end of the year I hope you will continue their spirit of giving with a donation to the Prairie Fund.  The Prairie Fund supports every student and teacher at Prairie and your gift of any size sends an important message of support to our faculty and students.

I hope you all have a wonderful break!


Nat_Coffman_black tanback
Nathaniel W. Coffman, Ed.D.
Head of School