[Discuss-sudbury-model] schools in the boonies (was: Erik's post about starting a school)

From: Erik Haugsjaa <ehaugsjaa_at_weblogz.org>
Date: Fri Apr 28 14:17:00 2006

Thanks Stuart and Melissa,

So how do we get lots of seed money and people on board?!

I'm most interested to hear from schools with 40+ kids that
are in the boonies, out of reach of megalopolis families.
There are very few people in Western MA -- everyone is
out east.

Actually it amazes me that even in the Boston-area with
6+ million people that SVS is as small as it is!

So, anyone care to comment? Hudson Valley? Who has
been able to get their numbers up to the point of not
feeling like a "small" school despite being in the
middle of nowhere?

(Just reading and reading thru the archives and Collection
packs from the starter kit for thoughts from founders...)

And yes, if it comes to this...
I think we will move closer to Framingham rather than
subject ourselves and kids to 1.25+ hr drives.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org
> [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of
> Melissa Bradford
> Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 11:45 AM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Erik's post about
> starting a school
> I agree with Stuart, although I would add the following:
> "unless you have A LOT of seed money and A LOT of people on board."
> Melissa Bradford
> formerly - Liberty Valley School, Prairie Sage Sudbury School
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org
> [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org] On Behalf Of
> Stuartwwms_at_aol.com
> Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 10:17 AM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Erik's post about
> starting a school
> Hi Erik,
> This is Stuart Williams, a founder of Cedarwood Sudbury
> School in Santa Clara, CA (but no longer a Sudbury school
> staffer), responding to your post about starting a Sudbury
> school an hour's drive from Sudbury Valley School. While I am
> proud of starting a school and have the highest respect for
> those who pull it off (or even try), if I were in your
> position I would think twice about your plan. I know the
> driving time to SVS seems daunting, but starting a Sudbury
> school is daunting as well: I spent perhaps 3000 hours
> starting one, and others in our founders group contributed
> maybe 500-1000 hours more. Let's not even try to count the
> hours--mostly unpaid--spent keeping the school going once it opened!
> Furthermore, the school you found will simply not be as
> good as Sudbury Valley School. The advantages of SVS over a
> small Sudbury school are numerous:
> --More choice of friends and activities.
> --Established school culture.
> --Experienced and highly qualified staff (the
> average staff tenure at Sudbury Valley is maybe 20 years; at
> Cedarwood it averaged less than two).
> --A lower percentage of "desperadoes" in the student
> population.
> Regarding my last point, parents and students have
> various reasons to be attracted to the Sudbury model. One of
> them is desperation, because the child's experience in
> conventional school is so terrible. While many students who
> are enrolled out of desperation work out fine, a fairly high
> percentage do not. I think many parents would view enrolling
> their children in a small startup Sudbury school to be
> riskier proposition than enrolling them at SVS, and the ones
> most likely to take the leap will be the most desperate. A
> small startup school will allow most of these students to
> enroll, motivated by hope, idealism, lack of bitter
> experience, and a need to increase enrollments; also, schools
> often don't know what problems a student is bringing with
> them (and parents typically don't say).
> If I listed the problems some of our students had, you
> might suspect that I founded an atypically dysfunctional
> school, or else conclude that small Sudbury schools are a bad
> idea. I don't think either is true. I'll let people from
> other Sudbury schools speak up to say that my comments about
> desperadoes aren't true, but I personally saw them wreck
> several schools (in cooperation with staff members who were
> too tolerant or out of touch).
> As for whether small Sudbury schools are a good idea at
> all, I think they are the best option for a variety of
> students. Cedarwood served many of these students well.
> Generally, though, students left us after 1-3 years. They had
> many reasons for leaving, some better than others. My guess
> is that students at SVS stay there a lot longer than they did
> at Cedarwood, which I think is a good measure for how good
> the schools are meeting their students' needs.
> Take care,
> Stuart
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Received on Fri Apr 28 2006 - 14:16:54 EDT

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