Passionate Teachers
Focused Learning Environment
Responsive Students
Involved Parents

Swan School Mission

Swan School builds strong learners in an environment of academic excellence aligned with creativity and personal expression. We develop wise and compassionate leaders as an investment in everyone’s future.

About Swan School

We are located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Port Townsend, Washington, on school-owned grounds that include five classrooms, an ever-growing library, and a large grassy and wooded playground.

You will find this is a very special place for children and their parents. Our community offers a diverse program focusing on the talents and needs of your child. The holistic focus is both our heritage and our strength, which has been evolving since Swan School began in 1983.

Learn more about Swan School >>

Events & Announcements

Staff Spotlight: Russ Yates

Russell Yates

Teacher for Adventurers’ Class (4th-6th Grades) and Head of School

Russ sailing on Port Townsend Bay

Russ enjoying a day sailing on Pt. Townsend Bay

During Russell’s 15 years in education prior to joining the staff at Swan School, he had the pleasure of teaching children in grades 2 through 6. The majority of that time was spent in multiage settings. His classroom was featured in an independent documentary titled “Honoring Diversity, the Multiage Classroom” as well as in two magazine articles, the March/April 2005 issue of Mothering Magazine in an article titled “Ode to the One Room Schoolhouse” and the online edition of Edutopia Magazine in an article titled “Wisdom of the (Multi) Ages: Students Learn by Teaching.”

In 1996 Russ began sharing his knowledge of multiage educational practices online through the  creation of a website that quickly expanded. Not long after it was launched, Multiage-Education.Com had been visited by educators on every continent except Antarctica.  Russell has also instructed teacher education courses for Western Washington University and City University. In addition he has conducted numerous in-service classes and workshops for various school districts on a variety of subjects.

When not at school, Russ enjoys sailing on Port Townsend Bay, kayaking on northwest lakes and Puget Sound, backpacking among the Olympic mountains, standing in a stream fly fishing, or climbing some of the amazing peaks in the Pacific Northwest. “I have been enjoying the outdoors practically since I was born and my parents took me camping for the first time.” Russ and his wife Linda also travel when time allows. They were married in Denmark, have driven to Alaska, journeyed through Canada’s Northwest Territories, and have explored Ireland in search of Russ’ ancestors, finding the final resting place of “Dancing Jack Lattin”, but that’s another story.

Russell has earned a B.A., majoring in Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education; a B.A.Ed. with endorsements in Elementary Education, History, and Social Studies; and a M.S. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology.

Russ with his current class and chaperones on a trip in Bear’s Ears National Monument where they studied the Ancestral Puebloans.

Staff Spotlight: Karen Akins

Karen Akins

Teacher for Navigators’ Class (Grades 2 & 3)

Karen Akins

Karen volunteering in Mexico

Karen began her time at Swan School as the Spanish teacher in 1999 and began as a classroom teacher in 2004.

Before teaching at Swan she lived in San Francisco for 12 years and enjoyed working with children in Raphael House, an emergency shelter for families. She interacted daily with resident families and ran an evening program for the children using storytelling as a basis for drama, music, and art activities. For the last three years of her time at Raphael House, she taught first and second grade in a private school housed in the shelter.

Karen holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a Master’s in Teaching from City University. Ongoing professional development supports her commitment to meeting the diverse needs of all learners. Karen has lived for extended periods of time both in Rio Grande, Brazil and Madrid, Spain. During one summer she enjoyed building a house for a Mexican family with a group of people that included two of her three daughters. Of late she has been busy visiting family in Oregon, California, and on the east coast. This year initiates her “empty nest” and she plans to put to good use her trekking poles on hikes closer to home while also learning Greek (she speaks 5 other languages)!

Karen makes it a priority to provide a warm and stimulating atmosphere in which children fully participate in constructing their own learning. She fosters classroom community through shared experiences on field trips, through lively discussions, small group and whole class collaborative hands-on learning, and active educational games. By discovering and cultivating student strengths, Karen provides a scaffold from which children can challenge themselves and take risks on the road to mastery.

Karen frequently gets visits from alumni who are always treated to a warm smile and fond memories!

Staff Spotlight: Marcy Stewart

Marcy Stewart

Teacher for Explorers’ Class (Kindergarten & 1st grades)

Marcy Stewart

Marcy tending her bees

A teacher at Swan since 2002, Marcy Stewart has worked with children since 1975.  Initially as the first children’s librarian at Ketchikan Public Library in Alaska, she went on to teach 3, 4 and 5 year-olds for 14 years in Port Townsend’s Head Start program. Marcy is certified in the state of Washington with endorsements as both a classroom teacher and as a school librarian. She has a BA in English, a Master of Library Science degree, and an Associate degree in Child Development.

Marcy came to Port Townsend from Southeast Alaska, where she lived on a float house, fished commercially with her husband, and made a strong and lasting relationship with the natural world and its cycles. While working in the Ketchikan Public Library, Marcy produced a daily children’s radio program that was enjoyed by children and adults alike. In addition to being the teacher of the Explorer Program at Swan School, Marcy has taught fiber arts, violin to adults and to children, is a member of the Port Townsend Community Orchestra and the Lincoln Beach Quartet, has worked for Centrum as a Future Problem Solving evaluator, and served on the Boiler Room board. She has recently become a member of the Chimacum Grange Beekeepers, with 2 hives of honeybees at her home along with a flock of chickens and her beloved cats. Marcy is also an avid amateur mycophagist!

Marcy’s background and professional training help her provide rich child-centered classroom experiences that foster a strong community learning environment and engage students in the exciting and empowering process of learning.  Marcy’s frequent visits from former students attest to the lifelong connections made in her class. As one Explorer alumna recently reminisced, “I loved being in Marcy’s class – we got to bake cakes from scratch, learn to read, and had lots of fun during choosing time!”

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