“The Schoolhouse has excelled in melding two cutting edge, evidence-based approaches: brain-based learning and student-directed learning. Brain-based learning engages all kinds of learners to work within their strengths and improve their areas of challenge. This approach truly connects teachers with students on two levels—academic (content at grade level) and emotional (effective interpersonal relationships and interactions). Student-directed learning promotes student learning and active student control over and responsibility for their learning process. Both of these approaches support full inclusion, and teach each and every child how to become an active participant in the instructional process.
The Schoolhouse is more than schooling. It is an education for life that embraces what it means to be an effective learner. The staff let kids be kids!”
Peter Gilmore, Head of School at Vermont Commons School, So. Burlington
I would say that Schoolhouse kids come with many of the best skills we look for in students—and they have been very successful here because of that. Critical thinking skills, analysis and synthesis skills, and certainly being able to work effectively in groups all serve them well and help them adjust easily to Vermont Commons. Above all they tend to bring a natural sense of curiosity and a love of experiential learning that sets them apart from other students.
“My son was just part of the first graduating 8th grade at Schoolhouse, and I couldn’t be happier. Eli entered Schoolhouse as a kindergartner. He loved learning and grew into a confident sweet boy, just as we hoped he would. Unfortunately, we needed to make a decision to move Eli to public school in second grade. At first, Eli did well, but once he hit middle school, his other parent and I slowly saw the light fade from our son, to the point that Eli was no longer the outgoing, confident, and smart son we knew. He turned to video games as an escape. Throughout this time, Eli continued to ask us to send him to Schoolhouse. At the end of seventh grade, Eli’s struggles became apparent to others in the Schoolhouse community. The Universe came together and Eli was able to become an 8th grader at Schoolhouse! Over the year, I have watched Eli go from being sad, completely uninterested in school, and having his self-esteem continuously falling to being a young, smart, funny, and confident young man who cares about school, has many friends, and has more interests than he has time for. I will be forever grateful to Schoolhouse for being there when we needed it most.”
“We are delighted to have found The Schoolhouse Learning Center. We were looking for an Early Kindergarten Program that would prepare our daughter academically, and would also give her a sense of belonging and community. Our daughter is thriving. She is learning to read and play chess. She recently participated in a school-wide science project. She was just as confident in presenting her project as her older schoolmates. She is excited about learning and she can’t wait to go to school every day. And as a family, we feel very blessed to have become members of such a committed and caring community.”
“My child learned how to be a great human being during her years at The Schoolhouse. She was encouraged to be kind, strong, creative, gentle and think big. Her exuberance was channeled into a love of all humanity as well as respect and a sense of responsibility for the planet.”
“The most important thing that my children gained at The Schoolhouse was the ability to manage time and be self responsible for schoolwork. This has been especially important as they go on to high school. . . They also value the friendships that they made in kindergarten and have maintained over the years.”
“My two children attended The Schoolhouse for a total of 11 magical years. The Schoolhouse is a remarkable place in which all the kids, even kindergartners, do original research; teachers teach the three R’s, but add a few others, including ‘responsibility,’ ‘resourcefulness,’ ‘respectfulness,’ and ‘rejoicing,’ and parents participate in every aspect of their children’s education. The Schoolhouse gave a great gift to me and my family: a deep involvement with a welcoming and dynamic community.”
“Among the many many things we cherish about The Schoolhouse is its embracing of diversity. Here it’s the real thing.”
“Being fair and inclusive, two huge values at The Schoolhouse. I especially realized this once my daughters graduated and went on to middle school.”
“The Schoolhouse community nurtures the love of learning. Curiosity, discovery, research and the fundamental “3 Rs” are natural parts of every school day. Our kids flourished there (Graduates of The Schoolhouse, our son is now in college and our daughter is in middle school). They loved their teachers (still do!) and worked and studied for the sake of learning (not for a grade). They have earned places on the Dean’s List and the High Honor Roll and are proud yet humble about their achievements. They gained so much from working with dozens of parents who shared their own expertise during Short Courses—from mathematical statistics to soccer skills to wood carving to hands-on research of the surrounding wetlands . . . The Schoolhouse is all about multi-age and multi-generational learning and teaching experiences, and our whole family’s sense of community (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) has been forever enhanced. It takes a village to raise a child? The Schoolhouse is truly an inclusive ‘village’ that helps raise intelligent, informed and caring children.”
Zpora Perry, 1987-89
“The Schoolhouse shaped who I am now in ways I can’t even express, or separate from my growing up process. I was there for 2 years, for 3rd and 4th grade, and when I think back on all that I did there, I am astounded. I remember doing algebra and geometry, being asked to solve problems that seemed insurmountable and then gently but firmly being pushed to figure them out. I worked for months on a display on the migration patterns of starlings, and I was so proud to stand next to my display and be able to answer questions posed to me by other parents and teachers. I think that is one thing that has stayed with me most about Schoolhouse: I always felt like I had something to offer — not that I was coddled and made to think I had the answers, but the teachers really believed in my abilities. When they asked a question, it was because they wanted to know my answer: it was never posed rhetorically. In return, they thoughtfully and sincerely answered my questions, and in that way we built a relationship of mutual respect and trust. I trusted that there was a reason for everything I was asked to do (3 drafts of an essay?!?) and they trusted that I was putting myself fully into the activities and would speak up for what I needed. I learned what it felt like to not get my way, and I discovered what it felt like to have such powerful connections with my classmates as well as with my adored teachers.
“I went to Barnard College in NYC, majored in history, worked for a year as a paralegal and then moved to France to teach English in a middle school. I moved back to Vermont and worked as a girls’ program coordinator at a local non-profit, then moved to North Carolina and worked as an in-home therapist for kids with behavioral problems. I plan to start social work school at Smith in June 2007. I have been to school in a lot of places and had many formative experiences, but I think SH gave me a foundation that opened doors and windows all over the place for me—it showed me all that I was capable of and the endless possibilities the world could offer me if I was willing to seek them out.”
Ben Sachs-Hamilton, 1994-99
Not long after starting at the Schoolhouse in first grade, someone asked me why I liked it there, and I replied, “They teach you how to learn.” The truth of this statement will be self-evident to anyone who has seen the school’s amazing teachers in action, but almost as important, I think, is the fact that I was aware of it at the time. I was learning not only how to learn, but how to engage in a reflective and mutually supportive learning environment with my classmates, and with the school community as a whole. The lessons I learned in that environment helped me to succeed in subsequent schooling at the Gailer School, Burlington High School, and Wesleyan University, and to enjoy and appreciate my learning experiences all along the way! Of course, I learned invaluable skills as well: how to seek out and evaluate research sources, how to interpret current events and world affairs, how to edit an essay, how to apply mathematical concepts to real world problems, how to resolve personal conflicts nonviolently, and many more. My experiences at the Schoolhouse played a large part in inspiring me to become a teacher myself, a goal I am currently working toward in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Brandeis University.