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Meet Katie Rios, Director of Elementary School

Much has changed in the 27 years that Katie Rios has been at Wildwood, but what’s held true throughout is the respect for childhood and sense of joy that permeates the elementary campus.

“This is a place where kids are listened to and respected, and every child from kindergarten through 5th grade knows that the adults are here to help them grow,” Katie says. “We let them know that they can make mistakes, and that’s OK.”

Originally from New England, Katie moved west after graduating from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Her first “taste” of Wildwood came while working for a family with young children at the school.

“Right away, I could tell that this was a special place, where kids could learn, have fun, and be kids,” Katie says. With Wildwood on her radar, it wasn’t long before Katie applied for a kindergarten teaching position and began her multi-decade career here.

With this support of teachers and classmates, children are welcomed and encouraged to nurture new interests and curiosities while exploring their ever-growing world. Elementary students write stories, research projects, read books, build robots, sing and dance, sculpt and paint, and compute and solve problems, as part of their journey of learning. 


Get Comfy as Katie Reads Tiny T. Rex and the Impossible Hug


“Young children come to school with a natural desire to make sense of their world and to find meaning in their learning,” Katie says.  "I love watching our kids discover, grow, and achieve. To be part of another human being's foundational development is intensely rewarding."

One elementary milestone that Katie looks forward to each week is the 5th grade “Meet the Leaders” share during All School Meeting.

“Some kindergarteners and younger students come in and think, ‘There’s no way I’ll ever be able to do that,’ but sure enough, they always do,” Katie says. “They build confidence throughout the elementary years as teachers tune in to who each student is and what each child needs to get them there.”

The key to recognizing each child's potential, Katie says, is looking at "the whole child, seeing them for who they are and allowing them to develop into who they are meant to become. We guide them to develop not just academically, but socially, emotionally, and artistically in ways that encourage them to become life-long participants in the joy of learning."

It’s this joy of learning that Katie hopes elementary students take with them as they progress to middle and upper school. 

“I want our students to arrive at the middle and upper campus equipped with the tools needed to navigate and excel in their learning as the coursework gets more sophisticated,” Katie says, “as well as a true sense of self and how to be a valued member of our community. While it begins in elementary, it’s a skill set that will serve them well through middle and upper school, and beyond.”