GreenWood Charter School Brings a New Type of Learning to OgdenOct 08, 2015 03:29PM ● By Bryan Scott
GreenWood Charter School nature playground
By: Candice Brown
In August, as summer came to a close, children throughout the nation headed back to school. For many, returning to the same classrooms they left in the spring, they were reunited with familiar faces and favorite teachers. This year, however, many local children had the exciting opportunity to step inside a brand-new building as the inaugural class at GreenWood Charter School in Harrisville. What began as nothing more than a dream in the hearts of a few parents and educators, has turned into the very first school in Utah to focus on a holistic education for every student.
GreenWood Charter School is a free public charter school open to any child in grades K-6. Focused on educating the whole child, educators work closely with families to inspire the students to eat healthy, exercise, participate in service activities, and be environmentally conscious. Using the Expeditionary Learning model, students are given a hands-on approach to learning through exploration. The five dimensions of this model are: curriculum, instruction, assessment, leadership and character. Students are encouraged to celebrate their individuality while being mindful of themselves, others and their environment. As a public school, GreenWood’s curriculum will align with the State of Utah Core Curriculum standards and will be subject to state and federal testing.
True to their name, GreenWood is strongly committed to the environment and has incorporated many “green” aspects to their building and schoolyard. Much of the furniture, books, and supplies were donated or bought slightly used. A rooftop garden sits outside the library room windows, overlooking the parking lot and Highway 89. The playground is made of natural materials and includes climbing areas, balance beams, an obstacle course and a large grass field for children to explore. Other exciting initiatives include: school-wide recycling, a greenhouse, gardening projects, motion-sensor lights, student-led energy and trash audits, and eco-fundraisers. “I feel so lucky to have my son begin his education here at GreenWood. He’s not only growing his mind, he’s developing life skills that will help shape him into a conscientious and productive citizen,” Laura Feeney, mother to five-year-old Montgomery, said recently.
With the belief that health and wellness should encompass the whole student, mental exercise is given as much priority as physical. Each morning students start their day with a mindful class meeting, called “Crew”, to help focus on setting intentions for a successful day of learning and socializing. PE and periodic movement during class-time, which has proven to increase productivity and decrease stress levels, is incorporated into the students’ daily routine. Every student fills out a weekly Mindset for Health Card, documenting their healthy habits and volunteer time. Each family is asked to spend 30 hours of service throughout the school year volunteering at the school and students are strongly encouraged to participate along with their guardians.
“It’s exciting to see children that struggled in the traditional school system really blossom here with the support of their teachers and the involvement of their parents,” school director, Jessie Kidd, said as I sat in her office on a recent sunny afternoon. School had just let out and she was anxious to head out to see the students off, as she does every day. “I am so proud of our GreenWood families and the dedication they have to being an active part of their child’s education. We really could not do this without them.”
Families, teachers, volunteers, administrators, donors and community members have all gathered around GreenWood Elementary to create a new, progressive educational experience for Ogden-area students. As more and more families begin to explore alternatives for their children’s education, many will look to GreenWood Charter School as an option. One that is sure to prove successful.
More information can be found at www.greenwoodcharter.org. Applications can still be submitted, although most lower grades are full, and new students are chosen using an equal-opportunity lottery system.