Quaker school to open in Champlain Valley next fall12/4/08

Dec. 4, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

A new, private elementary and middle school based around the philosophies and principles of Quaker education will open next year in the Champlain Valley. It will be the state’s first Quaker school, said school board president Annie Galloway.

The school will be known as the Green Mountain Friends School and is scheduled to open in September 2009. The school does not yet have a location, but the board is currently looking at property in Burlington, South Burlington and Hinesburg. Galloway said the school will have a strategic plan and location in place by February.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to let people know (the location) before then,” Galloway said.

Galloway said interested students from all over the Champlain Valley, including Williston, will be able to attend. She said a number of families have already been in touch looking for more information, and she expects interest to grow into next year. She also said the school is aiming for an enrollment of around 60 students, akin to Williston’s Bellwether School, a private elementary school that teaches emotional, social, physical artistic and intellectual development.

The Green Mountain Friends School will be one of about 80 Friends schools in the country, according to the Friends Council on Education. The school will operate under the mandates of the council, which promotes the theory and practice of Quaker education in schools. According to the group’s Web site, www.friendscouncil.org, Friends schools don’t teach religious doctrine, but instead teach “reflection, self-awareness, appreciation for diversity, and reverence for life.”

“The families who choose to be a part of a Friends school are individuals or families who feel aligned with these values of living,” Galloway said. “A Friends school does not seek to inculcate, it seeks to create a place where young people have the opportunity to learn and grow within a value-based community of learners and teachers.”

Galloway said students who attend need not be Quakers and only a handful of students and faculty at similar schools across the country are Quakers.

The Green Mountain Friends School won’t become an accredited Friends school until after it completes a two-year accreditation process. And while the institution will be the first Friends school in the state, the organization does run a Farm and Wilderness Camp in Plymouth.

For more information on attending the Green Mountain Friends School, contact Annie Galloway at vtquakerschool@gmail.com, or visit www.vtquakerschool.org.