The Pond (Ages 7–9)

The Pond program is for 7, 8, and 9 year-olds. Your child will love active and hands-on learning at Wingra. They’ll bring thematic units to life and spend a large portion of each Monday outside for a mixture of outdoor education and education delving into those units. Yearly Independent Projects teach beginning research and presentation skills. Our attentive teachers bring out the best in your child, helping them raise the bar for themselves in a safe, joyful community.

Our attentive teachers bring out the best in your child, helping them raise the bar for themselves in a safe, joyful community.

The multi-age Pond classrooms allow students to experience a continuum of growth with increasing independence. Throughout their multi-year placement, students have ample opportunities to set and meet goals, seek challenges and use their growing confidence to deepen their friendships and relationships. Students, families, and teachers benefit greatly from the increased knowledge and insights gained through a longer shared experience with each other.

We appreciate the warm environment created by the teachers and thoughtful students. The individualized understanding the teachers have of each child is remarkable. The small group allows for both planned and spontaneous creativity that offers a rich learning landscape. —Michelle, Wingra parent

Our Approach


Daily life at school is rife with opportunities for genuine communication as members of a rich, expressive learning environment. Children are immersed in integrated experiences that offer authentic moments of literacy for individual expression and community involvement. These occasions provide a chance to foster effective development in articulate speaking, active listening, expressive writing, and engaged reading for a variety of reasons. These four elements of literacy incorporate complex and developmentally sensitive sets of skills, processes, and connections. Students are given ample space and time for experiences and instruction that nurture their growth while demonstrating the purposefulness and joy of literacy.  Everyday experiences in classroom meetings, literacy workshops, unit studies, school traditions, and citizenry offer prospects for in-depth inquiry, self-expression, and natural integration of disciplines across the curriculum.  The ultimate goal is to help students participate in the world and enjoy their lives as literate members of their communities.


The major purpose of mathematics is to help children understand and interpret their world and to develop a wide repertoire of strategies that enable them to solve problems.  In the Pond, students are encouraged to use hands-on exploration to investigate, construct, and communicate mathematical ideas and concepts.  Children are continually building their mathematical understanding through active encounters with all strands of mathematics, from patterns and data to arithmetic and geometry.  Students have the opportunity to explore problems in depth, and are also granted the time and space needed to process concepts and ideas.  The interconnection between mathematics and the world allows for integration into the units and themes of study as well.


Children come into the world with an innate curiosity and a built-in wonder about everything going on around them. This capacity for natural inquiry, noticing, and thinking aloud fuels children’s investigations as they move through their days inhabiting the role of citizen scientists. At school, students employ these acute powers of observation, along with their questioning minds, to make connections and think about how things work. Every day there are endless opportunities for children and teachers to “do what scientists do” by playing an active role in their environments — participating meaningfully in the life of natural science, as well as making connections to the manufactured world of engineering. A repertoire of field trips, simulations, experiments, unit studies, science activities, and explorations in the natural world create an ever-widening sphere of experience that encourages children to think deeply and critically. These foundations of understanding are constructed, changed, and challenged over time. Equal emphasis is given to both scientific processes and scientific content. Opportunities for first-hand exploration and problem-solving inspire interactive scientific investigations and guide curricular decisions. Science in the Pond is integrated and relevant, embedded organically in thematic units. Group, partner, and individual investigations offer a strong background in science and engineering. These experiences help students participate authentically and successfully in the dynamic, rapidly-changing world of today and tomorrow.


The innate curiosity and imagination of 7 to 9-year-olds enables them to explore social studies content deeply through active historical simulations, role-playing, and other ways of bringing history to life. Through research, artifacts, presentations, timelines, exhibits, field trips, and guest speakers, Ponders strive to understand and appreciate the story in history. This embodiment of a thematic unit in rich experiences within the school day encourages learning to thrive, and often finds its way into the dinner conversations at home. By learning about democracy, changemakers, and time periods throughout history, Ponders make connections that allow them to recognize pieces of themselves in the significant people and movements that are examined.

Ponders practice citizenship within the walls of the classroom and in the wider school community. Finding wonder, developing empathy, noticing similarities and differences, and learning about communities, cultures, and groups are important aspects of an integrated social studies curriculum. By exploring the neighborhood and larger community through outdoor education and regular field trips, students find and develop a sense of belonging to both the community of people and of the natural world around them. Regular and beloved outdoor experiences are imbued with a sense of place, and Ponders tend to cultivate a stewardship of these frequented local learning spots.


At Wingra School, we embrace John Dewey’s idea that education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. Children learning together, who come from similar and different backgrounds, provide an opportunity to experience diversity and its benefits and challenges. Perspective taking, active listening, mutual respect, compromise, empathy, and self-reflection are some of the concepts we explore through community activities, conversations, read alouds, and unit explorations. In the Pond, we see conflict as a part of life. We make time to teach and practice the skills of conflict resolution and respectful communication. We believe this work provides students with the skills that are useful now as well as going forward. Meaningful participation in the decisions and the workings of the classroom instills in each child a sense of agency and advocacy in their community.  Pond students learn that their voice matters and they have practice in useful avenues for expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns.


Danya Lanphear // Art Teacher

As children grow and learn, they each begin to discover personal strengths and interests. With more exposure to and experimentation in a variety of media and methods, kids learn to solve problems, take risks, and gain confidence and self-esteem. The Pond encourages an increased autonomy, with student-directed ideas, decisions and voice. Students are encouraged to explore in new ways, collaborate and problem-solve with others, and to make lots of “mistakes.” This approach encourages the creative process and spontaneous visual learning experiences. The art program approaches art as a window into cultures, or understanding the world through the lens of its art. In this way students are exposed to new ideas, peoples and places with a strong emphasis on social justice.


Aviv Kammay // Music Teacher

The music program in the Pond guides students as they discover patterns in music, compose original tunes, play percussion, string, and wind instruments, and explore music from around the world. Units integrated into classroom curriculum represent diverse cultures, customs, and traditions. By creating musical stories, our Ponders learn how music can express emotions and how to create effects such as contrast and surprise. They build pitch and rhythm literacy through movement and focused listening and by playing and creating musical games.

Instruments available for the students include pianos, keyboards, recorders, guitars, ukuleles, lap-harps, computers with recording and notation software, pitched and non-pitched percussion, electronic drum set, and more.


Sarah Melton // Health & Wellness Teacher

The Pond PE program is designed to help guide the students in discovering the joys and emotional benefits that come from play, teamwork, sportspersonship, perseverance, cooperation, effort and achievement. Class periods alternate between sport related skills and cooperative play and teamwork. Teaching friendly and inclusive game play and movement plants the seeds for lifetime love of physical activity. Individual physical development and progress is equally as important as effort, interest, and participation. We invite students to contribute their ideas to the curriculum and play. Student voice is an important component of the activities we choose and the guidelines or rules of the game. Integration with classroom thematic units and other all-school programming happens as often as possible.
We introduce exercise, sports and competition in an atmosphere of inclusion and shared celebration of our abilities and accomplishments. Through a wide variety of activities and learning goals students develop the foundation and tools necessary to understand how their bodies work and develop a physically active and healthy lifestyle. Students are able to have fun while learning to respect one another, challenging themselves and setting personal goals in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.


Stacy Corona // Spanish Teacher

Pond Spanish reflects best practices in both world language and progressive education in a variety of ways. Students are exposed to large amounts of rich comprehensible input in Spanish – spoken language made accessible by careful word choice, repetition, gestures, and visuals – to strengthen their ear for the language. The language ear is an intuitive understanding of the inherent patterns, sounds and procedures in a language, an invaluable base for all further study. They have ample opportunity to work individually and in pairs, following their personal work rhythms while also encouraging collaboration. Language patterns are connected to real-life scenarios, student interests and hands-on experience, rather than abstract grammatical structures. Games, drama, music and illustration all play an integral role in bringing the language to life and activating all learning pathways. Students do individual reflections on which activities are the most fun, easy, challenging, useful, etc. and use this information to begin identifying their personal learning style for language.

Social justice concepts guide Pond Spanish work in multiple ways. Pond students are regularly exposed to other cultures, their traditions and ways of life through books, music, videos and artifacts. They are encouraged to practice demonstrating interest, respect, and an open mind while exploring these cultures and comparing them to their own. They also learn about historical and contemporary figures such as Dolores Huerta who worked to stop unfairness and make a difference. The classroom community embodies social justice as all members treat one another with fairness and support one another in “giving it a try,” and celebrating each other’s successes.


Dana Prager // Librarian & Literacy Teacher

Cultivating a love of words, stories, reading, and writing continues to be a priority at the Pond level. Student read books are longer, more complex texts and they are writing longer stories. Their awareness and use of descriptive and figurative language is on the rise. They continue to be exposed to ideas of identity, diversity, and equity through picture books, biographies, folklore and mythology, poetry, beginning readers, and non-fiction. They model their own writing on a variety of mentor texts. Their fiction writing includes more elements of story, including characters in settings who have wants and needs and that need to overcome problems and find solutions. Pond students are increasingly independent in taking responsibility for finding, borrowing, renewing, and returning library books. They are beginning to write drafts and to revise with peers and teachers in their fiction, poetry, and research writing.


Pond Program Guide

An in-depth look at curricular approaches and developmental considerations in the Pond including schedule, programming, and terms.

Pond Teachers

Teanna Dosch

Pond Teacher,  Ages 7 to 9

BS, Art Education, University of Wisconsin – Stout
MS, Education, University of Wisconsin – Stout 

Molly happily joined the Pond room in 2022, following 10+ years of experience teaching elementary art in the public setting. Molly often reflects on the amount of gratitude she has for the administrators who took a chance on her, the novice teacher helping to write the foundation of her story as an educator. Molly’s passion for teaching and learning is centered on the sense of curiosity that is so alive in young learners. Through her experience in a makerspace classroom, Molly has developed a strong appreciation for the power of creativity, exploration and collaboration. Beyond the classroom, she has served her learning community and pursued her own passions through the District Equity Leadership Team (DELT) as well as district wellness and sustainability initiatives. 

Outside of the classroom—you can find Molly exploring the world with her husband, Justin and son, Arlo. She enjoys biking, xc skiing and traveling. If you were to visit Molly at home in the warmer months, you might find her in the garden, making brick-fired pizzas or caring for her chicken flock. In the colder months, you might find her cooking, building ‘lego’ creations with sweet Arlo, or reading–often in the company of her elder orange tabby, Beta Carotene. 

Molly feels an immense amount of gratitude for her career, family, community and health. She wholeheartedly believes that her personal and professional philosophy of life and learning aligns with that of Wingra. She looks forward to joining the Wingra community that models such gratitude, grace and kindness in our world. 



Clara Temlitz

Pond Teacher, Ages 7 to 9

BS, Elementary Education, Minor in Mathematics, UW-Madison
MS, Cultural Foundations of Community Engagement and Education, UW-Milwaukee
Clara’s love for student-centered learning started at a young age. Raised in the Milwaukee area, she attended school at Milwaukee Montessori where hands-on learning allowed her to sew, cook, and create maps all day long. This freedom of choice, also fostered at Wingra school, allowed her to develop a sense of self at an early age and sparked her interest in education. In college, Clara student taught at MMSD and Wingra. She fell at ease with the pace of learning and depth of relationship building at Wingra and soon joined the team, leading the Extended Day program. After that, she explored community based education at Lussier Community Education Center through their summer program and pursued her masters degree in 2020. Clara has been a teacher in the Pond for several years and is energized by working at a school focused on student interest and community health. Her favorite ways of teaching and learning are place-based and outdoors.
In addition to teaching, Clara enjoys riding her bike, cooking, practicing yoga, camping, knitting, and exploring Madison parks with her two cats, Olive and Poppy.