Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Principal Certification?

From: Highland School <>
Date: Thu Dec 4 12:11:00 2003

Hi Peter,
   I worked on a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction (with another
major in Foundations of Education) largely to gain credibility to
support opening The Highland School in West Virginia. Before opening
our school, Alan Klein (also a certified teacher at the time) and I
visited our county superintendent and discussed opening the school. We
laid out our credentials as well as our school philosophy and by the end
of our visit the superintendent was receptive to our opening. (One of
his comments was "There is more than one way to carry coals to
Newcastle.") Our county authorities were extremely cooperative when our
school opened - providing books and materials if we wanted them, as well
as allowing our students to participate in many activities/services
(such as sports, drivers education, speech therapy) with no hassles.
    I don't think that my credentials made much (if any) difference to
parents. In the end, if parents couldn't support the idea that their
children could make their own choices, they didn't stay anyway. Having
gone through so much education myself was a two edged sword. I suffered
- as Dan Greenberg has eloquently described - from the "A" syndrome and
consider myself currently a recovering "A" student. I had to do a lot
of "unlearning" school behaviors to participate on an equal basis with
students and staff. On the other hand, a lot of my doctoral time was
spent reading John Dewey and thinking about philosphy of education.
 That experience helped me when confronted with opposition from people
(including our own staff) who out of fear or habit wanted to fall back
on traditional educational milestones to evaluate our school. The
philosophy part of the principal certification program may give you
opportunities to read and think more about ideas which can help you
develop your own foundation. It's useful to have that foundation when
the going gets rough.
    As far as the practical administrative courses go, I agree that
school law would be helpful. My husband Steve is currently taking an
accounting degree program (beyond his math teaching degree) to help with
the financial administration. I think both of these areas are important
in starting and maintaining a school.
     The bottom line, of course, is whether you can profit from the
experience without letting its downside discourage you from starting or
joining a democratic school. Good luck with your choice! Candy

Peter Keleher wrote:

> I began to learn about the Sudbury Valley School right as I began a
> graduate program in education. The time I spent at SVS transformed my
> thinking on education and I no longer see working in a traditional
> setting. I would like to one day actively support a Sudbury School.
> My spouse and I are approaching this transition collaboratively; one
> of us thinks completing the requirements for public school principal
> certification might give me additional credibility for the day that I
> am involved in a new Sudbury school and am trying to give parents and
> students confidence that this new school will be a good place for the
> student. The other one of us thinks that the educational approaches
> of Sudbury and traditional schools are too distinct for a principal
> certification to be helpful or to add credibility. I have spoken with
> some people at SVS about this and would also like to turn to those of
> you who have thoughts on the subject to hear your views in hopes that
> this might help us the resolve our gridlock. Thank you very much for
> your time.
> Peter
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> Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Thu Dec 04 2003 - 12:10:02 EST

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