Arbor is located on 21 acres of wooded farm land. Sitting just outside of Portland's Urban Growth Boundary, our campus retains the rural character of the original 5-acre horse farm with which we began in 1989. Many of our classrooms are housed in converted residences. The buildings we have constructed over the years have a rustic and functional aesthetic, and all our classrooms provide ample natural light and views of our forests, fields, and gardens.
Gardens & ponds: Several gardens, one devoted to raising produce for school use and a local homeless shelter, others filled with berries, herbs and flowers, and an earth oven with an outdoor kitchen, enhance the Arbor environment. They serve as places for each class to plant, tend and harvest small crops, and for the children to wander, observe, settle on a bench with a book, and muck about in the dirt. Small ponds within the gardens are favorite haunts for those wishing to capture tadpoles or test handmade watercraft. Orchard trees in patches around the campus yield apples, pears, and plums for snacks and Thanksgiving pies.
Animals: Obvious choices for this farm-like setting, our pygmy goats and chickens serve to connect students more closely to natural cycles.
Rill: A natural gathering place under a large Douglas fir in front of the Primary classrooms, the Rill is a stone sculpture and fountain that provides opportunities for small-scale dam building, inquiries into the properties of water, and welcome moments for contemplation and wonder.
Amphitheater: Built into a hillside and ringed with a bottle wall constructed by students, teachers, and parents, the Amphitheater is a favorite fair-weather venue for weekly assemblies, classroom performances, and other celebrations.
Trees & forests: Across the Arbor campus trees serve as suitable climbing challenges for small children—they may climb as high as the tallest teacher on recess duty can reach—and provide natural cover for imaginative games and fort construction. A student-built tree house serves as a favorite reading spot for our Seniors. The trees also serve as seasonal markers that lend themselves to fruit picking, measurement and growth, and sketching opportunities. The rhythm of the seasons reflected in these trees further connects students to the campus.
Play space: Arbor's ample outdoor space includes several climbers which offer varying levels of difficulty, a large open space for strolling or sports at recess, swings (including a tire swing), and a large sandbox for endless digging and tunneling.
Woods & creek: Arbor is surrounded by woods and has two creeks running at its edges. This land is an endless source of scientific and expressive inspiration. Restoration of the woods and riparian zones with indigenous species is a major focus of ongoing, school-wide stewardship efforts.
Library: In a dedicated building that opened in January 2006, we house well over 14,000 books; several thousand more reside on classroom shelves. A jewel in the crown, the Arbor Library serves as a cultural and intellectual resource for children, parents, and faculty. Each class uses the Library for individual reading, group story hours, and there is time at every level for research to support classroom projects, complementing the literacy-rich curriculum. Our 3,000+ volume McKittrick Teacher Resource Library is also a central hub for our Apprentices and an invaluable resource for our teachers.
Arena: Originally an indoor riding arena, this multi-purpose space now accommodates P.E. and recess activities during the rainiest of days. It will continue to serve as our community-wide gathering space for theatrical productions, all-school assemblies, and community celebrations until our new Gathering Center is complete.
Gathering Center: A new music studio, assembly hall, theater, lecture hall, and exhibition space will open at Arbor this year. Designed to seat over 400, the Gathering Center will not only provide a home for daily music classes and weekly Assemblies but serve as a venue for all Arbor parents to enjoy Arbor's traditional events like our all-school winter solstice celebration, our Senior production, and graduation.
Design studios: Arbor students have multiple dedicated spaces in which to explore a full range of creative media, including woodworking, printmaking, typesetting, simple electronics, pottery and clay sculpture, fiber arts, and free construction projects.
Music: Arbor has an extensive collection of instruments to support Orffschul instruction and supplement classroom curricula with authentic sounds and rhythms from around the world. Tone bars, an African marimba, a wide variety of drums and auxiliary percussion, guitars, recorders and other winds, a harpsichord, several pianos, and, of course, our voices are among the many instruments we use to make joyful noise together.
Science Barn: A separate science lab houses benches and scientific equipment, from microscopes, dissecting kits, and circuit boards to Vernier probes and measurement equipment that help students explore the properties and particulars of our world. This purpose-built space supplements the wonderful outdoor laboratory our campus provides.