Having had three children go through the Village School, it is so clear to me the difference between going to the Village School and other schools The children receive an ’emotional education’ unavailable elsewhere. This is so important for parents to see and difficult to communicate. I recall when I sent my first child to the Village School, it was not completely clear even to me what the advantage was; and I was part of the group that started the school! The difference is now etched permanently in my understanding. Children discover self respect, mutual respect and courage. They are not afraid to be, to try, to create.
They gain an understanding of the world around them that is not fear based or survival based. Theirs is more of a wondrous process of discovery; made possible by the incredible staff at the Village School, a staff that, itself, had to learn how to foster this discovery process in children. They are a hugely valuable resource.
What about academics? The Village School has strong challenging academics. Students are well prepared for 7th grade and beyond. The skills needed to thrive in this world are more and more those skills having to do with self confidence and leadership and creativity. And the Village School develops those skills.
We are so grateful, not only for the education our three children are receiving at the Village School, but also for the intangible lessons they are learning every day. Kindness, patience, mindfulness, thoughtfulness as well as learning to speak up for themselves and for others are all pieces of the amazing experience they are getting.
We know, without a doubt, that our children are in the best and safest environment to learn AND to become who they are meant to be and we could not be happier!
Can you believe we are here? ! Finally in the new building that started as a dream a couple of decades ago by a group of parents who were seeking a more relevant and meaningful education for their children. One that connects them to nature, to community and to each other. Through the hard work and dedication of the parents, alumni and families that have come before us, to make this all happen, here we are.
Our daughter is currently in the second grade here and has been lucky enough to attend the Village School since Kindergarten. In just a few short years, we have watched her find her voice and become a more confident person with a love of learning. A kid who loves to go to school and whose biggest concern now is being sick and missing something exciting, which seems to be happening at the Village School on a daily basis. She is completely engaged in the learning process. We feel so happy that we were able to find a school which engages her completely just as the founders of the school had envisioned all those years ago. What an amazing gift!
I have two distinct memories of sitting in the parking area in front of The Village School. In one of these memories my husband and I are waiting to go into the school for the first time. We were there for a visit—our children had been in our local public school for three years, and we were eager to find them an environment that was more in keeping with our beliefs about education. I was pretty terrified that the school was going to be exactly what we were looking for. (The financial commitment, not to mention the forty-minute commute, would definitely put a strain on our family.) We sat in the car and told ourselves that we would almost certainly not choose to make that commitment, but that it was good that we were exploring all of our options.
My other memory involves the moments after that first visit, when we returned to the car and agreed that there could clearly be no turning back—that we would figure out a way to make it work, because not to do so would be to deprive our children of an experience that we so desperately wanted for them.
Now I tell anyone who will listen that our decision to commit to The Village School that day was the best thing we’ve ever done as parents.
I don’t think that is an exaggeration. This is an extraordinary school, with its emphasis on academics and nature and the arts and kindness. When I try to put my finger on what exactly makes it so extraordinary I think it’s this—each of those dimensions is woven equally into the fabric of the school, so fully integrated that you can often not tell one from the other. Our children are happy here, and they’re having so much fun that they’re not even aware that they’re learning a million different things a day.
A play testimonial
I had the fullest Day Today and it was Great! I want to share my thoughts about things I’ve observed. I’ve said before how much I love our school but tonight I want to share some details. Tomorrow will be the school Play. I can tell you that this is far from your ordinary school play. The hours and effort put into this event by the teachers faculty parents members of the community leaves me amazed. Our school is very unique – the 4-6 grade write the entire play each and every student participates. For several weeks our children come home to us and each night their homework is to write lines based on a theme the class has chosen. It follows what they studied all year thus medieval History and our trip to London tour of many great Castles and more.
As a parent it’s really something to see the dedication the kids have to this project. In my home writing of the play is top secret “No Mum you can’t read my lines.” Each morning their newly written lines are handed to the teacher. What happens next is a collaboration of students and our great teachers and that’s where the magic happens. The teachers take lines from each student each day and begin to weave them together. After several weeks of this amazing effort they then have a script. I’m so grateful to our teachers for their dedication to our children, giving our children this amazing opportunity to shine and memories to last a lifetime.
The children look forward to this event all year. This is Grace’s last play with the Village School. There is much emotion about this in my home at the moment. Most of the time the children get the very part they want. They know their parts well as they have written them. Once given their parts, each student masters their lines and embodies their characters. They spend time learning and understanding their character. For a period of a few weeks us parents at home have multi pal characters to deal with. Mine has been rather dramatic and has hugely embraced her character. I’ve yet to decide if this is a good thing or not.
Our children help paint the set and the excitement in my home over the past week has left my children exhausted at the end of each day this week. The students go to town hall each day the week where they eat and breath all things play. “It’s all about the play.”
One very important thing I get to see daily that I love. I love that when I take my children to school you are always greeted with a smile from Rise the director of our school and all of the teachers. What I appreciate is the respect and appreciation and love our teachers have for each other. The Village school is a wonderfully unique Family. The dedication the school has to our children makes my heart overflow. It is not a big school so all of the school knows intimately each of our children inside and out. You give us a gift and we are given in return a front row seat. We see our children with new eyes, we see them grow into themselves. Sometimes we see things in our children we had not seen before, braver stronger funnier calmer and so on.
Tomorrow night I will see more than words can describe and not just in my children. It will be bittersweet for me as this is Grace’s last year she graduates from 6th grade. I will be present and soak in every moment. I will enjoy the excitement and energy of all the parents special guests & teachers. It’s fun to take a moment look around the room and see the expressions on everyone’s faces. When the night comes to an end everyone is happy, tired, proud most of all of our children and they should be. I’m looking forward to the unexpected moment that happens during the show and there is always one of those. I’m greatly appreciative of the effort made by all.
I say Thank You Thank You for loving your jobs and Thank You for Loving our Children. Thank You for making this my children’s best year in school.
Tabitha Gillam May 2015
The Village School was special to me because of its community. Everyone knows each other’s names. The teachers care for their students, and the different classes know each other. The Village School was also special because of its appreciation of nature. As I went on to other schools, I realized that the changing of seasons didn’t seem to matter so much at other schools. In All School Sing, different songs were sung about the different times of the year, and that made the natural world more real. So many schools forget that there’s more to learning than just math and reading, and the whole world is really right outside our windows.
The Village School is special to me because throughout my time there I was never made to feel bad about myself, or discouraged if something was difficult for me. With any struggle I faced, academically or otherwise, I always felt completely supported and that the people around me genuinely cared about my education and well-being.
One thing that I really loved about the Village School was the interaction between grades. In my old school, the grades were separated, people rarely had friends in other classes and the grades were even separated at break times. At the Village School, you have two to three grades in one classroom, the older grades read aloud to the younger ones, and so get to know them better. The preschoolers play with the 6th graders on the playground and everyone knows everyone. The community is the strongest out of any of the other schools I have attended or seen, and that’s why I love it.
I think the thing that makes the Village School special is that it is small, kind of like a family. Everyone knows each other and if you have problems with another they are resolved. I love everything that we used to do from the songs we sang, to the morning circle, to the lantern walk, and making lunch!
Mixed grade classrooms were really special to me, in 4th grade they helped me interact and work with older students. In 5th grade, I had both jobs, to work with 6th graders and watch out for the 4th graders. My last year, as a 6th grader, I had to watch out for the younger students. The thing that sticks with me the most, after graduating from the Village School, is recess. I remember being a shy little 2nd grader and being welcomed to play capture the flag with the “big kids.” That was a big deal to me, I was included and wanted, and that feeling stuck with me, through 6th grade. When, I then realized that it was my turn to make the littler children feel as welcomed and included as I had.
I remember All School Sing in the morning, when we were still groggy and tired. But then the wide-awake preschoolers started to sing some cheerful little song, and then the whole school would be singing. The 4th -6th would pretend they were too cool for hand motions, but you could tell they really did like them. The people are special. It wasn’t like the students were specially picked for their kindness and generosity, but once you got there, you wanted to be nice. It wasn’t cool for people to tease. It wasn’t funny, just mean. Of course, it wasn’t perfect, but it was close. The environment created supported kindness in every way.
The Village School is a tight knit community that encourages people to be themselves. I remember the community the most, as I am still part of it. The Village School helped me to understand both community and independence.
One day in first grade, the first snow of the season began to fall. The whole class was overjoyed, and thoroughly distracted by the flurries so my teacher stopped class and we all threw on jackets and ran outside to go run around in the first snow (teachers included). When we had eaten as many snowflakes as possible and were too cold to be outside anymore, we went inside and continued the lesson. This story is a good depiction of my Village School experience because in my time there we were always encouraged to take advantage of nature and appreciate that schoolwork is important but sometimes you just have to pause and enjoy things like the first snow.
I have many memories from the Village School, but one of my favorites is the end of all school sing. The whole school would gather in one classroom, sing songs, greet each other, celebrate birthdays and so on. At the end of each all school sing, Rise always managed to shake hands with everyone, give an encouraging smile, and tell us all to “Have a good week”. It was the perfect way to start a Monday.
The Village School taught me how to try and gain real understanding out of learning. I know how important it is to understand things, not just know them. In the school where I am at now, I am a big question asker of my teachers, because I really want to understand the work they were giving us. This was supported especially in math at the Village School, where I learned so much just by being able to ask questions. The Village School also gave me a very unique environment growing up, because it supported me as a person. Even in all the pressures of going to a public school, I always had a solid confidence in who I was, and where I came from.
The Village School has prepared me very well for the experiences I have had since I graduated. After one year at the Chicken Coop School, I moved to Brookline and started 8th grade at a public school in a very demanding and fast paced school system. I was worried at first, having never taken an MCAS or any other standardized test that I would not do well. But, I did, I made the honor roll, and continued on to take honors classes in high school.
The Village School taught me how to interact with people. How to make friends no matter how old or young they are. It prepared me not only academically but also socially. It taught me to go out there, see things, do things, no matter how shy I felt.
The Village School’s understanding of nature has helped me be more peaceful in my life. Even when I am so involved with school life, I never fail to be comforted by the fact that the first snow has come, or the leaves on the trees are turning rainbow colors. Maybe the most important thing that the Village School gave me was an understanding of one place where things were really, well, good. The Village School is a place in my world even now, which brings me hope that the world can be changed, and people can be brought together. School doesn’t have to be just school, it can be a community and family, where kids grow up, but never really leave.
One thing I feel that have gained from my time at the village school is I’m never intimidated by interacting with people of different ages. Because of the mixed grade classes and the interaction I got the whole community, whether it was my preschool reading buddy, all school sing, Friday lunches with Rise, or singing for the Royalston Seniors lunch, I learned to respect and interact with people of any age.
I hope the Village School can live on forever and continue to be a creative and open place for kids. The Village School gave me a great education, and a group of friends I’ll never forget. The songs and dances, and memories will stay with me forever. I love everything about the school and had some amazing experiences during my time as a student, as well as after graduation during our reunions. It was amazing to see people at the Alumni reunions that were in first, second, and even kindergarten when I first met them. This school forever has a place in my heart, and I thank all the teachers and all my peers for making it so special. This school is truly a unique and valuable experience that I hope to share with my own children someday.