Program Overview2019-01-16T10:13:15+00:00

Authentic Assessment

The word “assessment” comes from the French assidre, which means to sit next to. The purpose of assessment is to give each learner and his/her educators and family an authentic picture of the child’s present level of understanding and growth. Learn More

Experiential Learning

Education is a matter of experience. Learning at Wingra is an active, multisensory engagement between an individual and the world; a mutual contact, which empowers the learner and reveals the rich meaningfulness of everything around him or her. Learn More

Multi-age Collaboration

A child’s maturity and sense of belonging are developed through multi-age classrooms and strong whole-school programming. Learn More

Social Justice

Each stage of a child’s development has a unique expression of social justice. When these natural capacities are developed it is not whether a person participates, but how. Learn More

The process of learning is as important as the end result, and that children learn best when they’re academically challenged by an integrated curriculumconnected to the real world. Discovery-based learning fires student’s imaginations and keeps their love of learning alive as they gain new skills and proficiences.

The Nest (Ages 5–7)



The Pond (Ages 7–9)



The Lake (Ages 9–11)



The Sky (Ages 11–14)



How were you prepared for high school?

We love to hear from our past students and how their experience at Wingra prepared them for life.

Emily Ptak-Pressman
Emily Ptak-PressmanWingra Grad 2009
From Wingra I gained the tools to learn, communicate, question, collaborate, create change, and be confident in myself and my community.
Ethan Witkovsky
Ethan WitkovskyWingra Grad 1998
I really feel like Wingra did more to make me who I am than any other educational institution I have attended.
Maddy Brazas
Maddy BrazasWingra Grad 2013
The value of the education I received is huge! You don’t just get fed information, you get to understand it!
Lauren Mazur
Lauren MazurWingra Grad 2011
Wingra has taught me the most important lesson of all, how to advocate for myself and navigate for success.
Collin DavisWingra Grad 2009
Wingra gave me a notably wider and different set of academic experiences than many of my peers, which was a substantial advantage.
Olivia Dregne
Olivia DregneWingra Grad 2014
When you get to high school you realize the greatest resources are your teachers. At Wingra you learn how to access that resource. We have learned to see teachers as allies. They want us to succeed.

See Wingra’s community of learners in action and schedule a tour today!

What Makes Wingra So Special

At Wingra, we believe that spending time outside is good for the health and happiness of students’ bodies and minds. We notice the cultivation and the release of energy when we go outside with students and we take special care in carving out time to be outside for a variety of activities including play, nature-based science-education, field trips, neighborhood walks, and even some morning meetings.

Nestled between Wingra Park, the Arboretum, Children’s Glen, and Southwest Bike Path, our location is ideal for immersing children in the outdoors. Our Outdoor Classroom, built with whole trees, was finished in 2015, winning the Mayor’s Design Award for Innovation and Sustainability: Green Placemaking in 2016.

Each level integrates time outdoors and environmental stewardship into their curriculum in unique way and we dedicate at least one day each year to spending the entire day outside as a whole school. Whether on our school grounds, in our neighborhood, or on a field tip, Wingra students get outside!

Our teaching practice at Wingra centers around the understanding that knowledge and information are retained and flexibly applied when they are seen as interconnected networks, much like neural pathways, rather than isolated pieces. Teachers and students create integrated curriculum, based around a thematic unit, that incorporates academics, the arts, student voice, and social justice issues. Content is introduced and extended through diverse, open-ended learning experiences designed to challenge students at different levels and bring out personal intelligences and interests. As a group of learners becomes immersed in this shared inquiry, each individual contributes their unique perspective and talent, benefitting the group as a whole.

Independent Projects offer an opportunity for Wingra students to sculpt their own inquiry, into a subject of their choosing, with the support and guidance of teachers. Every student at Wingra completes an Independent Project each year: they begin in the Nest with Interest and Activity Projects; students in the Pond and Lake pursue IP’s with increasing levels of depth and complexity; in the Sky, students conduct Independent Research projects. This thread through all nine-years of our curriculum allows students opportunity to build and practice important research skills, such as asking questions, narrowing topics, finding and distilling information, identifying quality sources, and presenting to peers and adults. While empowering students with the understanding of how to learn and the skills to pursue their interests and curiosities throughout their lives, IPs also provide the each child the powerful experience of sharing their own expertise with others.

At Wingra School, we embrace John Dewey’s idea that education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. Learning takes place in a social environment and through collaboration and connection with those around you. Our close-knit community forms as children learn together, discover connection and difference, and experience inclusion as cared for and respected members of the community. Within this safe environment, students can take educational and cognitive risks with the confidence of having a supportive network of adults and peers around them.

Students in the Nest, Pond, Lake, and Sky pursue service learning projects each year to connect to people, places, and issues within our school, neighborhood, city, and world. Through this work, our students will become actively engaged citizens and stewards while having a genuine impact. Service-Learning, based on the definition from the Community Works Institute, is an educational strategy that combines academic and social goals to meet real community needs. Projects have a compelling sense of purpose that resonates strongly with educators, students, and partners. There are both academic and service related goals combined with meaningfully integrated reflection. Most importantly, engagement and reciprocity among all partners creates meaningful collaboration.

Some of the organizations our WSL groups have partnered with in the past include: UW Arboretum, Fritz Food Pantry at the Goodman Community Center, Gay Straight Alliance, WORT Community Radio, Little Free Libraries, Madison Public Library: Sequoya Branch, Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood, Clean Lakes Alliance, Madinah Academy, and Eagle Heights.

Learn More

Have you heard about our Extended Day Program?

At Wingra we believe that learning never ends. Students enjoy beginning their day early or continuing after school at Wingra. Our Extended Day program is a fun and engaging after school program in tune with Wingra’s progressive philosophy. It's not your average after school option, and both students and parents rave about it!
Learn More

Would you like to learn more?

Please email christine@wingraschool.org with any questions or to schedule a tour. She’d love to hear from you.

Community Involvement

Are you a local business in need of a performance space? A local artist, musician, or gardner who enjoys collaboration? Email christine@wingraschool.org with any ideas. It’s important to stay connected.