Community Culture

Here at Genesee…

Making Sure Our Roots Grow Deep

We are a nurturing and close-knit community. Teachers honor children’s ideas, value their questions, and foster their social and emotional growth. Parents support their children’s learning at home, in the classroom, and on fieldwork. We work together to instill a strong sense of community responsibility through collaboration, service, and leadership.

Community Culture

At GCCS, student learning and school culture are interwoven. From the time the youngest kindergarteners walk through our doors, students learn to be considerate and respectful members of the school community.

Our deliberate focus on the social curriculum is reflected in the success of our academic curriculum. Children and teachers approach their work with enthusiasm and seriousness of purpose, which is possible when members of the school community are inclusive, kind, and caring.

Core Values

The EL Education Design Principles and our GCCS Character Traits guide our school culture and the way in which children and adults treat one another. We teach children to understand and respect their own strengths and needs as well as those of other children and adults in our school community.

EL Education Design Principles

EL Education’s (formerly named Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound) core values reflect the beliefs of Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound.

10 Design Principles

  • The Having of Wonderful Ideas “I have wonderful ideas.”
  • The Responsibility for Learning “I am responsible for my learning and I help others learn.”
  • Empathy and Caring “I care for others; others care for me.”
  • Success and Failure “Success is sweet, but failure is good food.”
  • Collaboration and Competition “We work together as friends; I compete with myself.”
  • Diversity and Inclusion “Our differences make us stronger.”
  • The Natural World “Nature is our teacher.”
  • Solitude and Reflection “I need time to be with myself.”
  • Service and Compassion “We do excellent things for others.”

GCCS Character Traits

From EL Education’s Design Principles, GCCS has seven Character Traits that serve as the community’s core values.

  • Responsibility
  • Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Courage
  • Gratitude

Social Curriculum

Responsive Classroom

Since its inception, GCCS adopted the Responsive Classroom model to support the community culture and social curriculum.  It is an “evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness.” (

Several of the structures provided by the Responsive Classroom approach have laid the foundation for building community and common language.  These structures help students learn how to be intrinsically motivated so they are able to make their own choices in the face of adversity.

To learn more, visit:

Learning Together

We believe in establishing a growth-mindset culture where collaboration is key to development for students AND teachers.

Playing Together

We play everyday.  Play is embedded into our academic and social parts of our day.

Eating Together

Students eat in their classrooms with their teachers.

Being Together

Every morning, we begin our day in Morning Meeting where we greet, share, play, and honor our purpose together.

Community Circle

An important weekly ritual at GCCS is Community Circle.  Every week our school comes together to celebrate learning and nurture a strong, positive, and caring school culture. Students enter with music playing, they participate in a variety of activities, and they leave singing a medley of goodbye songs to wish them well until we meet again.  Parents are invited and are active participants in our circle.  Just like many cultures around the globe, our gatherings identify who we are as a school community.

Students and families can always count on singing at every Community Circle, but the themes change from week to week.  Our Community Circles take on a variety of different forms that have evolved since the school began.  Below are samples of all that we do during the course of a school year at Community Circle.

Highlighting of the arts in expeditions

  • Celebrating and sharing our Character Traits
  • The sharing of field studies and exhibitions
  • Wacky Wednesdays
  • Drum circles
  • Guest experts and artists
  • Singing, singing, and more singing
  • Movement and cultural dances
  • Classroom-led Community Circles
  • Highlighting student talent

Serving the Community

Members of the school community honor and take care of the world around them.  At GCCS, we not only honor the importance of maintaining a caring environment in the school, but we believe that children should understand and interact with the city and world beyond our school walls.

Student Service

As children learn academic skills they build a strong sense of social and community responsibility.  Our curriculum, with its focus on local history, lends itself to the study of community issues. Students often venture out into the metropolitan area to deepen their understanding of the world around them.  Our older students also explore our place in the world community and take an active part in investigating and proposing solutions to larger community issues.  By engaging in the study of issues relevant locally and globally, GCCS students learn to take action and make a difference.

For examples of student service, click here.

Family Service

It is important that families form a strong partnership with staff to work together to support student achievement.  Therefore, GCCS encourages 20 hours of family service and engagement with the school.  These hours can be fulfilled in a variety of ways such as chaperoning field work, volunteering in the classroom, serving on a committee, board, or Family Association, or supporting the school during non-business hours.   For a list of ideas and other information about family partnerships, click here.


Apply Today!

Please see the Student Admissions Page for more information about our 2024-25 application process.