Phoenix Life

Urban Campus

The Phoenix School is committed to being a school near the heart of the city, enabling us to use community resources and engage students in global stewardship on a local scale. Phoenix kids are an integral part of the Salem scene, moving easily along its sidewalks to walk to the Common, the YMCA, the Peabody Essex Museum, City Hall, Hawthorne Hotel to attend Rotary meetings, and to participate in City events and celebrations. The Salem YMCA and local yoga studios are our places for mind-body wellness. The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Winter Island Park, and more, are our classrooms.

One World Classroom

Connecting students in all grades with local and global partners in education and social change is an exciting and essential part of a Phoenix education. Only part of a Phoenix education takes place in school. We are on the go whenever the opportunity arises to learn in the field. We take some trips by car, but we also take advantage of public transit and get around on our feet too. Our Upper School students experience one, farther afield, special Travel-Study Trip as part of their experience at Phoenix. The world is just as much a part of a Phoenix education as the school building, and often has more to teach than can be learned by staying in one place.

Local Lower and Upper School “Classrooms”

  • Peabody Essex Museum
  • Salem Sound Coastwatch
  • Essex National Heritage Commission
  • Baker’s Island
  • The Salem Partnership
  • Salem Rotary / EarlyAct Club
  • Salem Arts Association
  • Salem Maritime National Historic Site
  • Salem Y.M.C.A
  • Winter Island Park

Upper School “Classrooms” for Travel Study Trips

  • Catalina Island Marine Institute, Catalina Island, CA
  • Virgin islands National Park, St. John, US Virgin Islands
  • Marengo, Bluespring, Squire Boone Caverns, IN
  • Everglades National Park, Homestead, FL
  • Spanish Immersion, Host Families in Cuernavaca, Mexico
  • Life on a Houseboat, Holly Bluff Marina, DeLand, FL
  • The Wilds Conservation Center, Cumberland, OH


Teamwork, sportsmanship and fun!

The Phoenix School Sports Program is deeply committed to the personal growth and achievement of our students. The Phoenix School works tirelessly to offer a wide variety of programs so that every student has the opportunity to participate. We are dedicated to the principles of teamwork, good sportsmanship and having fun.

Our philosophy

Developing an appreciation of being physically active as well as a strong sense of good sportsmanship and a familiarity of a variety of individual and team sports lies at the core of our program. In a safe, supportive environment we encourage students of all abilities to reach beyond their comfort zone and work to improve their skill level in each area. Regardless of ability, every student is welcome, respected, and accepted for his/her efforts.


From November through April all students in grades TK-8 participate, enjoy, and practice skills at the Salem YMCA once a week. Each swimmer has a thirty-minute lesson determined by skill level, ranging from first time swimmers to preparing kids for competitive swimming. Students of all ages and abilities also practice skills and gain endurance while swimming laps. In addition to laps and a lesson, older, more advanced swimmers may help beginning swimmers practice skills. Swimming encourages individual excellence and promotes health and fitness for life.

Giving Back – Local and Global Citizenship

Since it’s beginnings in1981, community service has been a significant element of The Phoenix experience. The school’s presence in Salem’s downtown area and its flexible curriculum have positioned The Phoenix to respond to countless opportunities in support of the local community.

Extended Learning

Homework becomes a Habit


At The Phoenix School homework is viewed as a habit, as an opportunity to not only develop academic skills, but to develop organizational skills, to reflect on work accomplished and to choose topics of particular interest to include in an evening’s work. It is our philosophy that homework is an extension of learning, not something that is added on by school as busywork. It is a time for students to pursue topics of personal interest. There is opportunity for hobbies, family adventures, special experiences and interests to be turned into a piece of homework. This means that homework does not end when teachers’ assignments are completed if all the nightly homework time has not been used. Students are expected to choose–which means they begin a personal choice assignment that may or may not be completed in one night, but may be continued/finished on succeeding nights when required assignments do not take the total allotted homework time. Spending a specific time each night, in an atmosphere conducive to study helps students develop a homework habit that makes studying much easier as it becomes more focused and complex in the upper grades, high school and college.

Guided by Time

There are homework expectations at each grade level, with time as the guideline, rather than merely finishing assignments. There might be specific teacher assigned work, but there often is time for student choice so the child can explore activities or topics of personal interest. It is this combination that allows the child to have a shared responsibility for homework, incorporating work on required skills while allowing for personal choice making homework more enjoyable as well as appropriate for each student’s ability level. Having a time requirement rather than ending homework when whatever the teacher assigned is finished avoids homework being rushed in order to finish in a short time and allows for the thinking that is so important to learning. It also makes it easier for parents to monitor, knowing that a time slot needs to be filled, and there is a logical end to homework time, rather than wondering if all homework could possibly be done in such a short time or worrying that homework will go past bedtime, leaving no time for family interaction.

Home and School Communication

Homework assignments are recorded in a Homework Book that the child takes from school to home and back daily. This is a critical communication tool between home and school and allows for teacher-parent dialogue daily. Each night parents review homework and comment on how homework went at home and what help was given. They often ask questions or make comments to teachers. Each day teachers check in with students and reply to parents in the Homework Book. Teachers often comment on progress, ask questions of parents or communicate directions regarding student expectations or growth. As students become more able to record their own Homework assignments, the Homework Book becomes more like a simple day planner, building a lifelong habit of using an organizer to keep track of deadlines and other responsibilities, immediate and long-range.

K-2 Expectations

In Kindergarten, students typically do 15-20 minutes of homework. They are read to each night or they read to a parent if they are able. A parent might act as a secretary and record a child’s ideas or factual data next to pictures they have drawn in their journal as a follow-up to a day’s activity or field trip. Even the youngest sets a goal each month ( a mountain to climb) that is recorded in the homework book, to be evaluated at the end of the month with the assistance of teachers and parents. In this way, even younger children can have an appropriately shared responsibility for their learning.

Homework time increases slightly for each grade, as do expectations. K-2s, who are able, read and often have a creative assignment to reflect their daily activities. Added at each grade level is a short additional amount of time each night for the building of a foundation for developing successful study skills. By 2nd grade, students spend 20-30 minutes nightly doing homework that always includes reading as well as a variety of assignments across the curriculum or a personal choice that incorporates reading, writing, research, math, science and/or creative activities.

3rd-5th Expectations

On days that school ends at 3:00 pm, students in grades 3-4 spend an hour on homework. On 4:30 dismissal days, homework is expected to last 30 minutes. Homework time always includes reading – either a personal reading book or an assigned piece of literature. Other homework might include writing, science, math, a creative project, personal choice, or an assignment that integrates several curriculum areas, depending on the focus of study at the time. Personal and academic goals are incorporated as part of the monthly homework time. It is vitally important that children learn to evaluate their progress and be part of choosing what they think is important for them to focus on as they work to improve skill and efficiency in their schoolwork and life skills.

6th-8th Expectations

Homework for 5th-8th graders is more complex and involved. Time requirements are increased as students begin to look toward high school. On Mondays, when school is dismissed at 3:00 pm homework time is 1.5 to 2 hours. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, when school is dismissed at 4:30 pm, the homework requirement is 1 hour. On weekends, students are expected to spend 1 ½ – 2 1/2 hours completing homework. Students at the upper school level are expected to increase homework time if necessary to catch up on unfinished assignments if such occurs. Planning the week of work to meet deadlines is so important for student success as requirements become more complex.

At the upper school level, there is more teacher-assigned homework, but students are given some time to choose homework activities that reflect personal interests and offer a wider variety of experiences. Nightly reading is always an expectation. Other homework might include research, writing, math, graphing calculator activities, science, special projects incorporating design, art, and creative, and/or personal choice activities. It is at this level that creating and maintaining a healthy homework habit is critical. It is important that students learn to plan their time to be able to keep up with multiple assignments and meet deadlines as well as make time for the exploration of personal interests and more creative activities that reflect learning in less traditional ways.

Even at this level parents are expected to review homework and comment on work done. Teachers review work daily and respond to parent comments/questions as well as communicate progress and ask questions about homework habits at home. In this way, parents and teachers, and students are partners in the learning process, sharing suggestions and expectations about schoolwork and homework. By communicating regularly, any potential issues can be addressed before they become problems. It is clear to students that they are part of the learning team, and the adults in their lives, both at home and school, are part of the process.

Lifelong Habits

Building a healthy and efficient homework habit begins early and progresses steadily through the grades. Homework is viewed as another facet of the learning process, not as busy work that infringes on a child’s life for no reason. When children learn to plan, make good choices, and meet deadlines, they develop habits that will take them successfully through life, in school, and beyond. A good homework habit supports lifelong learning.

Meet a Phoenix  Student

A Year in the Life of a Phoenix Student

Phoenix Students are:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Environmental advocates
  • Local and global activists
  • Problem solvers
  • Community leaders
  • Thoughtful innovators
  • Adventurous travelers
  • Lifelong learners

and more.

A Phoenix education …

  • Keeps our student to teacher ratios small so your student gets more attention
  • Keeps the world as our classroom
  • Keeps students interdisciplinary with their learning
  • Keeps students engaged across age groups to encourage and broaden learning
  • Holds students accountable to the school, their community, and to each other
  • Supports independent learning and encourages them to reach beyond their comfort levels
  • Empowers students to take charge of their learning, to become responsible citizens and lifelong learners
  • Encourages learning in the real world
  • Provides individualized experiences
  • Provides ongoing, authentic assessment
  • Provides students with the tools to be successful in high school
  • Keeps parents engaged and involved in their child’s education

Phoenix School Calendar

Parent FAQ

How are Parents Involved in the School?

The Phoenix believes that real education cannot occur without the direct support of the family. Parents help to create and maintain a safe, attractive learning environment and help to make special projects possible through their personal skills and interest.

Parents may serve on Board Committees such as; Finance, Marketing & Development, Long-Range Planning, etc.and may be invited to serve on the Board of Trustees.  Parents are fund raisers who work together on the Annual Fund, a major special event like our annual Auction, and other projects to help raise additional funds for the school. All parents are members of the Phoenix Parent Organization.

A minimum of 15 hours of volunteer support services from each Phoenix family is required annually.

What About After School Programs for Working Families?

The Phoenix School provides after-school opportunities everyday. Younger students participate in a homework / student-led after-school course, while older students take advantage of the homework program. A nutritious snack and drink is provided. There is an additional charge for these activities. Parents may contract for the year or pay-as-needed– $15 a day for the homework / after-school course option, $10 a day for homework option.

What About Transportation to and from School?

Phoenix Students come from Salem and eight surrounding communities. Transportation is the responsibility of each family. Students arrive by car, train, bike, bus, scooter or on foot.

What are the Hours of the School?

Doors open at 7:30am. Students are expected to arrive no later than 7:50am. If they stay for an after-school course or for homework, they are picked up by 5 pm.

  • K-1-2: Monday – Friday 7:50am-3:00pm
  • 3 & 4: Mon,Tue,Thurs,Fri 7:50am-3:00pm Wednesday 7:50am-4:30pm
  • 5th – 8th: Monday, Friday 7:50am-3:00pm Tues., Wed, Thurs 7:50am-4:30pm
How Does Drop Off and Pick-Up Work?

Drop-off is at the Kids’ Entrance – the last door on the right when looking at our building. The doors will open by 7:30 am. Pickup is in the carpool lane along the front of the building. Teachers will send the students out at 3pm. To pick up your child after 3pm you will need to come into the school at the Main Entrance – the middle door.

What Happens in inclement weather?

At the Phoenix School we do our best to inform the news stations of school cancellations during inclimate weather. Please refer to Channel 5 or Channel 7 News for Phoenix cancellation. You can sign up for their text alerts if you choose but we will also send an email to parents to inform them of a school closing when we have reached a decision.