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: Three gardens, one devoted to raising produce for school use and a local homeless shelter and the other two filled with herbs and flowers, 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.
Animals: Obvious choices for this farm-like setting, our pygmy goats, chickens, and a resident rabbit 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. during the rainiest of days and serves as our community-wide gathering space for theatrical productions, all-school assemblies, and community celebrations.
Design studios: Arbor students have dedicated spaces in which to explore a full range of creative media, including woodworking, printmaking, typesetting, 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 wind instruments, a harpsichord, several pianos, other stringed instruments, and of course our voices are among the many ways we make joyful noise together.
Science Barn: A separate science lab houses benches and simple materials—microscopes, dissecting kits, circuit boards, and the like—to help students probe the stuff of the world. This purpose-built space supplements the wonderful outdoor laboratory our campus provides.