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.

Events & Announcements

Registration on Saturday

Posted on: August 17th, 2017

We all know that childhood experiences strongly influence adult success – and research backs up this common sense understanding of the importance of early positive experiences as well. Why not invest in your child’s future success by choosing the best elementary education?

Swan School currently has openings in it’s preschool, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 6th grade classrooms. Registration is 10:00 am this Saturday, 8/19. If you are not familiar with the school, stop by and get a tour – it may just lead to the best investment you ever make!

Enjoy Your Summer

Posted on: August 17th, 2017

I love it when science supports the things I love. For instance, there are times, especially in the summer when I enjoy just “doing nothing” – sitting in the back yard listening to the birds sing, riding my scooter to no place in particular, throwing a Frisbee back and forth with a friend – all in the category of what my friends and I used to call “goofing off.”
Lea Waters wrote an article published in The Atlantic titled, “How Goofing Off Helps Kids Learn.” The title got my attention and while reading it I happily discovered how well it fits with Swan School’s child-centric focus, its structure of many well-timed recesses and breaks within the school day, and even our balanced calendar which provides many between-term breaks throughout the year. I’ve linked the article in case you would like to take a break from “goofing off” and focus on reading a little research-based science

Every Kid in a Park

Posted on: August 17th, 2017

Here’s something that every family needs to know about, the “Every Kid in a Park Program.” While it is designed for 4th grade age students, it allows for each family’s 4th grader to bring their parents and siblings along for free entrance to national parks, national monuments, and other federally managed land. You can get your pass by following this link or read more about the program here.
Have Fun!

Congratulations Graduates!

Posted on: July 24th, 2017

Samantha, Emme, Ephraim, and Maggie graduated from Swan School on July 14th, 2017. Congratulations!

Commencement on Friday July 14th

Posted on: July 11th, 2017

Our four 2017 graduates presented their capstone projects this month and are busy writing their speeches for commencement this Friday. Join us at HJ Carroll park (gathering at 10am) to celebrate these youth as they expand their wings! We hope to see you there!

Picnic on the Pier

Posted on: June 27th, 2017

Come and join us for some frolicking good fun downtown on July 8th for our third annual Picnic on the Pier event!

Staff Spotlight: Russ Yates

Posted on: June 18th, 2017

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

Posted on: May 14th, 2017

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

Posted on: April 6th, 2017

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!”

Staff Spotlight: Dana Weir

Posted on: March 19th, 2017

Dana Weir

Art Teacher


Dana with her cat Isis

Dana’s formal education reflects her diverse interests and passions. She completed her BA in Art at Pacific University in 1997, and obtained an interdisciplinary master’s degree, focusing on Spiritual Traditions and Ethics, from Marylhurst University in 2005. Dana is fascinated by the way in which artists from various cultures represent spiritual experience.

Dana moved to Port Townsend with her husband, Brian, in August of 2010 and began working with students at Swan School that same year. Prior to teaching at Swan, Dana spent nine years in Portland, Oregon, working as a nanny, preschool teacher, and art instructor. She taught a wide variety of art classes and camps for preschool and K-6 students at the Multnomah Art Center. She also taught preschool at The Marylhurst School, a highly regarded early childhood center that emphasizes experiential learning, artistic self-expression, and emotional intelligence.

When she is not teaching or creating art, Dana loves to explore the Pacific Northwest, in both urban and wild environments. Dana and Brian can often be found hiking around the peninsula, or making a pilgrimage to the Seattle Art Museum.

Swan School is very lucky to have Dana with us to teach- one of her art students recently stated, “I love Dana, she is nice, great at art, and she is a great friend too!”

A healthy preschool lunch