Much is done at Greenwood to ensure that our students experience academic success. Just as importantly, however, Greenwood also understands that for each student to find success in the classroom, they must feel safe, nurtured, and supported during their time at home. And for most of Greenwood’s students, “home” while school is in session is the Greenwood Dorm. Dorm life at Greenwood is more than just the time that passes between classes. It is a life experience—one that we hope our students will look back upon fondly later in life.
It could be said that the residential program at any school is both the least and most important component of school life. A student, by definition, is someone whose job it is to learn, and therefore it is natural to think that the classroom is where all the “important” stuff will happen for them. But we know better know that the time and effort put into supporting a student outside the classroom is every bit as important as the time spent in actual tutelage inside the classroom. At Greenwood we do know better, and for that reason it is a priority of ours to provide our students with a meaningful, robust, and enriching afterschool experience.
At 5:30 p.m. each week day, our teaching staff heads home for a well-earned rest, and our evening residential faculty begin their work. Just as during the day, academics are a major focus in the evenings, so an important time each night is the evening study hall block, during which time students are given the support they need to complete the homework they were assigned during the school day. The evening faculty work in collaboration with the teaching faculty and the Dean of Academics to tailor these study halls to meet the individual needs of each student.
Evenings are also a time for our students to hone their life skills, those abilities that will allow our young students to succeed in the “real world” after parental and school support has diminished or been lost. For some, this next stage of life will be a college dormitory. For others, it may be living in an apartment or even with a spouse. Our job is to ensure that, wherever our students end up living after Greenwood, they will feel prepared to tackle those daily tasks that some of us simply take for granted.
Evenings, and especially weekends, are also an opportunity for our students to relax, socialize, and spend time pursuing the interests that they find personally fulfilling. In a word, sometimes our students simply need “downtime.” The Greenwood campus is situated on a 100 acres of fields, forests, and ponds, providing students with ample opportunity to play sports, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish, cross country ski, or enjoy sitting around the fire talking and listening to music. Our facilities include a skate-park, a gymnasium, a music room, a digital lab, a wood shop, and an art room—all of which are available for student use after school and on weekends. In the interest of keeping everyone safe (and depending on the nature of an activity) our staff are always on-hand to help and oversee students during these unstructured times of recreation.
More structured, programmed extracurricular activities are also a regular occurrence at Greenwood. We frequently take our students on field trips to a variety of destinations, including museums, malls, festivals, CT River, hiking areas, sporting events, arcades, bowling alleys—really, any place within driving distance where students might have a good time and maybe learn a thing or two.
We also offer structured on-campus activities to entertain and enlighten our students. Examples of such activities in the past include school dances, athletic competitions, "coffee shop and trivia night", wilderness first aid clinics, and even karaoke nights! We have also hosted special guest presenters at Greenwood, including the documentarian Ken Burns and musicians from the Yellow Barn center for chamber music. And as our school grows, we will continue to offer more such opportunities every year.
Above all else, the health and safety of our students is a priority at Greenwood, and for that reason the Greenwood residential faculty do everything in their power to ensure that our students are well looked after. In addition to the trainings they receive in supporting students with learning differences, our faculty receive CPR/First aid training and instruction on the safe administration of student medication. Student whereabouts are tracked at all times, and strict protocol is followed—both on and off campus—to make the residential experience as safe as possible, while also giving our students some freedom to live their lives on their own terms. Finally, the overnight presence of three on-site dorm families (as well as numerous staff who live elsewhere on campus) means that there is never a time when our students are left without someone to call on for assistance.
In the rare instance that special support is needed, the school administration, nurse, and counseling staff are on call and available 24/7, and the nearest urgent care center at Brattleboro Hospital is a mere 15 minutes away. The small size of our student population means that our evening and weekend faculty are able to keep a close eye on all of our students and address most issues—from homesickness to physical injury—in a timely and compassionate way, without needing to call in additional support.
When it comes down to it, what really sets the Greenwood residential program apart is the unwavering personal attention that we provide our students each and every day. Just like you, we are committed to seeing your child grow and succeed in their life, both in and outside of the classroom. Nothing gives us more satisfaction than knowing that we made a difference in our own small way. Here at Greenwood, we truly care and it shows.