It has been said that practicality is nothing but an ideal put to use. That’s the story of The Neighborhood Schoolhouse. We began in the spring of 1980 as a small group of people who shared some simple but strong ideals. Since that first gathering, we have taken steps–along with the help of good fortune–to turn these ideals into a reality that continues to grow.
In rounding out the role of responsibility for our school, we knew when we began that we wanted and needed parents to actively participate in all levels. We imagined that people who wanted their children to come to a school such as ours would come from diverse backgrounds, and that the children would receive a far richer education if their parents were active participants. Finally, we understood that to make our school affordable to as many as possible, we needed parents to help raise additional funds and cut costs by volunteering their labor.
As for the good fortune that has contributed to the growth of our school, it has been plentiful. We have had many supportive people with us along the way–people whose level of involvement has ranged from simple, heartfelt encouragement to unaccountable expenditures of time, money, and energy. We were extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to locate at Solar Hill when we opened in the fall of 1981.
Solar Hill, which serves as the site for a variety of other worthwhile endeavors, provides a rich environment for children. We have acres of woodland, a garden plot, swings, playground equipment and an obstacle course. Indoors–always keeping in mind that we want the best educational experience we can possibly provide–we continue each year to change, improve, and expand our classrooms as well as our learning tools and resources.
Finally, we consider ourselves fortunate to be in Brattleboro. Right from the beginning we intended to emphasize learning through direct experience, to have our children go beyond the classroom walls to learn from their neighborhood. Brattleboro is a rich source of learning for all of us. There are people with a variety of interests, talents, and professions; cultural life is actively diverse; the natural environment offers many seasonal possibilities; the local history has a rich heritage; the opportunities are limitless.
All of this–what we ourselves have decided and done, as well as what has happened by chance–has turned our ideals into an especially fine, small school. For more than thirty years, we have watched our students blossom into life-long learners and leaders who love school and have the self-knowledge and confidence to pursue their dreams. We are proud of what we are today and we remain loyal to the ideals we had when we first started.