Studio School of Durham classrooms – or Studios – are created for research, learning, invention, and intention. We draw our inspiration from the studios or “ateliers” found in the highly successful municipal preschools of Reggio-Emilia, Italy. The studio approach is specifically designed to foster a culture of respect, promote student achievement, and develop individual character.

Student Community

Each studio is a tight-knit community of mixed-age learners who work and learn together. Kindergarten and first-grade students are taught in small groups using a hands-on curriculum designed to build the social, academic, and work ethic skills that support project-based learning. Second- through fifth-grade students also collaborate in groups. As they develop, students earn higher levels of responsibility for the goals, progress, and direction of their learning with support from their teachers.


Our well-designed and flexible studios maximize discovery, work, and mastery. The studios are visually rich and infused with abundant natural daylight from large windows, which has been shown to improve student performance in math and reading. We stock each room with authentic materials, tools, and invitations for students browsing, exploration and use in daily learning. This ensures ample opportunities for students to engage at their own level of curiosity, comfort and challenge. Over time, they expand their work and develop increasingly complex and flexible thinking.