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Innovation at Greenwood

At Greenwood, we believe in our students’ potential to become leaders.  Consider this:  compared to the general population, a disproportionate percentage of CEOs are diagnosed with learning and/or attentional challenges.

As we work to ensure that Greenwood continues to be the preeminent boarding school in the world for students who face learning challenges, we have launched three new initiatives that foster creativity, collaborative problem-solving, critical thinking and long-term success.

  • A Digital Arts Entrepreneurship class, in which students visit and learn from successful entrepreneurs and then utilize the new digital arts studio to create a product and launch an independent company. This venture includes product research, design and production, marketing, financial management and sales.
  • The Greenwood STEAM program is an inter-disciplinary, project-based exploration of concepts and techniques relating to science, technology, engineering, art and math. Emphasizing a hands-on experience of design, construction, testing, and improvement, the program encourages independent problem solving through projects originating with students — such as last year’s wind tunnel and hovercraft — and more formal instruction in topics including Applied Math and Robotics.
  • The Digital Playground offers students opportunities to explore website design, coding, IT infrastructure, computer repair, and server maintenance.

Executive Function Coaching

Greenwood students have been diagnosed with a wide range of specific learning challenges.  The most common diagnosis that our students share is weakness in Executive Functioning (EF) — the cognitive processes that govern an individual’s ability to plan, initiate action, sustain attention, monitor performance, solve problems in the moment, inhibit impulses, stick with a task to completion, and transition to another task. Executive Skills are crucial to success in school, at work, and in life.  Weak EF skills are a barrier to independence.

Neurocognitive research shows that there is a unique opportunity to help students improve their Executive Skills at this age level.  The Prefrontal Cortex, the part of the brain that controls Executive Skills, is the last part of the brain to develop – it does not fully mature until the late 20s.   It is also the most receptive to intervention in adolescence when students have the ability to be metacognitive (think about thinking).  The right intervention fosters new neural connections, changes the brain, and results in improved Executive Skills.

Recognizing this opportunity to address our students’ Executive needs, we are continuing our second year of clinical trainings in the Executive Functioning Coaching Model with Landmark College’s Institute of Research and Training.   We implement this coaching model most directly during advisor-advisee meeting times. At the conclusion of this year all advisors will have received over 40 hours of clinical trainings in this approach.  We are working with Landmark College to pilot what we hope will grow to be a formal Landmark College Certificate Program in EF coaching using Greenwood trainings as a model.

National Competition and World Premiere of “The Address”

On April 2nd Greenwood hosted the first Gettysburg National Competition, welcoming 28 contestants from 14 of our peer schools around the country — as far away as California and the Washington, DC area. It was a magical event with twinkling lights and lots of bravely memorized speeches. 1-DSC_0703We also had a special visit from University of Harrisburg Professor Craig Welch. He and his 15 students brought an art installation with the entire Gettysburg Address carved into 50 feet of stacked blocks! It was a wonderful way to commemorate Lincoln’s speech and the perseverance and grit it takes to memorize this complex speech and publicly recite it from memory.  Each year we are inspired by our students’ abilities to push through fear and self-doubt and ultimately triumph.  We know this is a confidence-building memory and important rite of passage students will hold in their hearts for years to come.  With so much dedication, courage, and passion in each delivery, and with every student achieving a personal victory with each recitation, this was certainly not an easy decision for our illustrious judges!

1-DSC_0854After the competition, we were fortunate to attend the sold-out world premiere of Ken Burns’ The Address at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro. This remarkable film is a genuine, powerful, and inspirational portrayal of our students’ journeys and celebration of their triumphs.  The feedback from the crowd during the premiere was overwhelming. Especially moving was when Ken spoke about Greenwood’s “special sauce” being the love and care the school has for these boys.  We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the transformative work we do at Greenwood with a larger audience, and to have had the opportunity to host such brave and talented students and their families from peer schools all over the country.

Greenwood School In Partnership with Landmark College

Just a few miles from The Greenwood School stands Landmark College, which offers both two- and four-year degrees for students with learning disabilities.  Like Greenwood, Landmark College features a very low student-to-faculty ratio, a multimodal approach to learning, and a philosophy that emphasizes strengths rather than deficits.

Last September, the Greenwood School signed a memorandum of understanding with Landmark College, laying out new ways in which the two schools will work together. The initiative created an internship program through which Landmark College students serve as teaching assistants at Greenwood; an Educational Technology and eLearning partnership; a venue that will allow Greenwood seniors to earn college credits at Landmark; and a professional development program for Greenwood educators offered by the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT).

Landmark students have visited the Greenwood campus, participated and observed classes, and met with Greenwood students to share experiences and stories.  Greenwood students have also visited the Landmark campus to get a taste of college life.  Our faculties have met to discuss common issues around specialized instruction, application of technology, and common approaches to working with students who have executive function needs. These initiatives have benefited both institutions and we are delighted by this growing partnership.

Cerealism Artist Michael Albert Comes to Greenwood

1-photo (8)-001New York pop artist and author Michael Albert visited Greenwood for an exciting presentation followed by a half-day art workshop.

1-photo (8)Greenwood students and faculty enjoyed making cubist mosaic cereal-box collages – “Cerealism” –and working side-by-side with Michael as he created an original piece just for Greenwood.

 

This is Michael’s beautiful rendition of The Gettysburg Address.  Check out Michael’s other work at www.michaelalbert.com!

1-Michael Albert

Ken Burns appears with Katie Couric to discuss “The Address”

Ken Burns appeared live this week on Katie Couric’s show to discuss The Address, his upcoming documentary film about Greenwood students learning and reciting The Gettysburg Address.  “It’s such a love letter, I think, to both the kids and the teachers at the school,” said Couric.   “Just seeing the teachers in the film, it … almost makes you cry.  They’re so dedicated and so loving.”   Burns noted, “It’s a great story, and to watch these kids do it just inspirits you. . .  When they perform it about this time, mid-February, it’s just so moving to see, as Lincoln says in the address, a new birth of freedom.”  The Address will premiere in Brattleboro, VT on April 2.

Students Perform Service to Honor MLK Day

Over half the Greenwood boys came together to honor Martin Luther King,Geo and Ned Jr.’s  legacy with a day of service, completing over 40 hours of work! The boys completed an array of projects in support of the Vermont Foodbank and its related programs that support food insecure individuals and families around the state. Projects included work at the VT Foodbank warehouse, cleaning and sorting incoming donations, as well as various shopping excursions to help stock staples that are in high demand this winter.

Greenwood Head Wins Klingenstein Fellowship

Greenwood School’s Headmaster, Stewart Miller, has been awarded a fully-funded fellowship to the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership’s 2014 Heads of Schools program at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Stewart

Twenty visiting school heads from around the world will gather at the Columbia University Campus in New York City for intensive study to examine educational issues and policies facing independent school educators.  The Center attracts and selects educators who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishment or potential for excellence and equips them with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for informed and effective practice.  Participants will focus on philosophy, research, technology and governance. The 2014 cohort includes Heads from around the United States in addition to participants from Canada, China, Germany, The Netherlands and Sudan.

Drawing upon a record of success that spans more than thirty years and the full resources of Teachers College and the other graduate schools of Columbia University, the Klingenstein Center stands alone in its capacity to develop leaders for independent schools. You are welcome to click this link to read more! http://www.klingenstein.org/content/heads-program

Inspired by Greenwood Students, Ken Burns Launches Nationwide Gettysburg Address Challenge

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, award-winning director and producer Ken Burns has launched a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the speech.  Burns was inspired by his work with Greenwood students in filming The Address, a feature-length documentary to be released April 15, 2014.

“[W]e have to look no further than the story of a tiny school in Putney, Vermont, the Greenwood School, to understand why this speech above so many others survives. Each year at the school students are challenged to memorize and then publicly recite the Gettysburg Address. These students, boys 11 to 17, all face a range of complex learning differences that make their personal, academic and social progress challenging.”

Go to Ken Burns’ new website, LEARN THE ADDRESS, to watch all the living US Presidents and a host of other celebrities and politicians recite the speech.  The collection of recordings housed on this site will continue to grow as more and more people are inspired by the grit of Greenwood students and the power of history.  If they can do it, you can do it!  

Media coverage of Ken’s launch and Greenwood has included the following:

Interviews

Website

Videos

Articles/Blogs