Back to School - in School, at Home or on the Farm

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Vershire's Educational Options

Vershire includes a wide range of educational options for all ages, despite our small population.  And many people wear several hats in our community, as we say. Kathy Hooke, for example, is the mother of a school student, Benjamin, as well as a Rivendell Interstate School Board member and teacher at The Mountain School.

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Lynn Roy visited her grandson, Benjamin's sixth grade class on Thursday to enjoy the Chopped Junior cooking program, offering this description.  "Using ingredients from home as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, kale, and herbs harvested from the school gardens the sixth graders in Mrs. Rose’s class at Samuel Morey Elementary School made delicious salads, salsas, and smoothies. Seven teams of two chopped, sliced, and whirled ingredients to follow recipes they had chosen in a competition similar to the Chopped Kids TV show.  But in this case there were no losers – the judges were grandparents and school staff who all marveled at the kids creativity and accomplishments.  Responsibility for watering and caring for the gardens had been shared by families all summer and the harvest was plentiful!  What a wonderful way for the kids to learn how to use this bounty.  Three cheers for Mrs. Rose!"

Visit the Vershire Buzz on Facebook for a fabulous video of this event featuring more beautiful, delicious food & kids cooking.

Benjamin, agreed, "She did one heck of a job!"  After attending Westshire Elementary School in West Fairlee, he and his classmates transferred to Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee for fifth and sixth grades.  

Kathy says the District is like one school with three locations, with teachers working together to consciously provide a continuous experience for students.  She is especially proud, as a board member, that they have "got the formula down for middle school," delivering an educationally appropriate program in a socially supportive setting to help with the important transition to middle school.  All fifth and sixth graders in the district attend Samuel Morey for the first two years of middle school, then continue with middle school curriculum and structure for seventh and eight grades at Rivendell Academy in Orford.

Younger children from Vershire can attend the free preschool at Westshire Elementary from age three to kindergarten, and there is even a playgroup that meets there weekly.sme_101915_02

Wearing a third hat, Kathy Hooke described the arrival of students to The Mountain School of Milton Academy, an on-farm semester program for high school juniors which began its fall term on Saturday.  They "dove straight into gathering hay" and working in the gardens, she related, so some students found that it felt like summer camp at first, but they are getting into the routine of classes and studying as well.

Besides academics and agriculture, naturally other issues arise on campus.  "We gather all students and teachers every Wednesday morning for our school meeting to talk about how we want to live together," Kathy explained.  "We had a great discussion yesterday about this being an election year and how we want to handle that - the kids had lots of great suggestions for how to engender meaningful and respectful discussion."

Another hot issue is the use of cell phones, which the students from away are generally accustomed to, but which are useless during their stay in Vershire.  However, EC Fiber provides high-speed internet and wireless access in the academic buildings, though not the dorms.  Several years ago a group of students worked with the staff to develop a policy taking advantage of the limitations of rural communications.  All handheld devices are turned in by students at the beginning of the semester, and after one month they have the option of asking for them back.  The digital-age teens often feel great relief not having the pressure of always being at the beck and call of their ringing phones, and appreciate the policy.

Home schoolers in Vershire have not necessarily started their school year yet, with some opting to wait until after the Tunbridge World's Fair.  Families who choose not to enroll their children in the school system find support in groups from Corinth and elsewhere in the Upper Valley.  Home schooling has become a more popular option in town since the closing of the Wellspring Waldorf School, first in Chelsea, then Tunbridge, a few years ago.  Waldorf-inspired home schooling programs are available as well as a wide range of other curriculum option that can be adapted to the preferences and needs of each family.

Vershire may not have a traditional school here in town, but students find plenty of educational opportunities.  What about your family?  Leave your stories or comments below.

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