Green Mountain Community School is a K-5 independent school for motivated students who learn through real-life experience. We are a project-based learning school that offers a personalized, challenging, and enriching curriculum in a community-minded environment.
When students graduate from GMCS, they walk away knowing that hard work feels good, equipped with the courage to put their best foot forward. They aspire to be little heroes in their everyday lives. That is our mission.
We are a school for children, families, and educators who are committed to teaching children to be courageous, diligent, and full of hope.
Beyond delivering knowledge and adhering to core standards to solely strive for academic achievement, our teachers work hard at the hard work of instilling character traits that will help our students live to their fullest in a complex and unpredictable world. Building character and a grounded sense of self and self-esteem takes time. It needs to start early and it can, and should, certainly happen in the crucible of a school where our children spend most of their day. At GMCS, we understand that in a child’s formative years, we must build a strong foundation for moral conscience, for self-discovery, and for curiosity.
“In our rush to prepare our kids as early as possible for academic and future professional success, it’s easy to overlook the hazards ahead (e.g. alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety and depression, eating disorder, violence, cheating, etc.) for which emotional sturdiness and resilience are the best protection.” Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD
Teaching character is an embedded practice and way of life that permeates all aspects of the GMCS experience. Each day, we find teachable moments, however small, to develop a sense of goodness, to define our values and to celebrate character traits that are necessary to live a healthy, loving, and satisfying life: one of courage, diligence, and hope.
How? We Let Kids Be Kids.
Rush childhood, and there is no going back. As educators, we strive to maintain the natural sequence and pace of childhood. We understand that children are developing, dynamic, and curious individuals, and we frame instruction and all aspects of the GMCS experience around this truth. Research shows that the core social and emotional skills children develop in early school years, and throughout their education, will more powerfully define their success in school and life than almost any other factors; including GPAs, SATs, and where they go to college.
Childhood is a critical period where teachers and parents will never have greater access to their child’s social and emotional development. At GMCS, we intentionally take the time to layer experience and connection so that our children know what it means to be a person of character and possess the capacity to engage in life.
GMCS is a place that exists for our students and our students only. We do not subject ourselves to rigid schedules, standardized testing, or any of the administrative constraints or bureaucratic demands present in many school systems. Our students recognize that they are the wards of this space and they feel safe and welcome to bring their passions and hopes, their victories and failures, their stories, and their treasures.
We value personal connection and positive relationships. At GMCS, we believe children flourish in the context of good relationships and a sense that we are all connected. Small and intimate, our school is a home-away-from-home. We take the time to slow down and engage in meaningful conversations and genuine dialogue with all of our students and among ourselves, so that our faculty and staff are an extended family to our students. Our collaborative efforts with families and community members bring the sense of community to a higher place that supports individual and collective growth.
PROJECT BASED LEARNING (PBL)
A curriculum is neither the subjects we study nor the textbooks we read. Rather, a curriculum is the whole childhood experience. At GMCS, we offer a variety of both time-honored and innovative teaching methods in a flexible and fluid manner, because every child learns differently. At the core, we anchor ourselves in Project Based Learning (PBL).
“Education stops being something done to them and begins being something that they are leading.” (Berger, 2018)
Why Project Based Learning (PBL)?
PBL brings meaning and helps children grow socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
The Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach honors the implicit and necessary intersection between academic learning and the development of a child’s character. PBL teaches motivated students to apply academic standards and core skills—reading, writing, math, historical perspectives, and scientific questions—to the world around them. Where classroom learning would otherwise offer little or no meaning to students, we synthesize academics with real-life experiences to bring relevance and meaning.
PBL also intersects learning with character development through a myriad of lived experiences. Every day at GMCS, students are working hard, collaborating with others, solving problems, resolving conflicts, facing disappointments and failures, and celebrating discoveries, accomplishments, and growth.
Our Head of Curriculum R&D and classroom teachers build our projects around what matters to our students so that they become personally curious. Students engage with projects over the course of 6-7 weeks, a process which challenges them to practice diligence and learn how to be deliberate and thoughtful in navigating the freedom that comes with learning and discovery. Reflection and journaling are a consistent practice in our approach to PBL. Project Based Learning is a method in which our team of educators and community members guide and support our children’s understanding of themselves so that they can discern and harness their gifts–a skill which they will bring with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Community is an essential part of our approach to Project Based Learning
We are located in the small, rural town of Poultney, VT, a home to many artists, carpenters, musicians, environmental scientists, and entrepreneurs. They are a key component of our school community and a vast resource for our learning. We find inspiration and role models in our local community, and we invite them to teach us, learn with us, and engage in our projects.
As a school, we take pride in our synchronous relationship with our community. Our projects serve the local community, so that from a young age, our students become habitual contributors to the world around them. This practice teaches students to take ownership of their surroundings and to be responsible individuals.
During their early school years, children are most open to taking risks and discovering their world. Exposing students to a variety of enriching experiences allows them to discover their gifts, draw out their strengths and weaknesses, and harness their potential. We provide students the opportunity to learn about and try a variety of activities that support their self-understanding and capacity for lifelong learning, including, but not limited to:
If our children know how to discern their gifts, hone them through self-discipline, and have the courage and confidence to apply them, they will be capable of living a life with maximum likelihood of both success and personal happiness regardless of what life may throw at them.