Cultivating Courage: Part 4

In this week’s Cultivating Courage post we answer the question: How do I best describe Alpine Valley School to my friends and family?

Sometimes after enrolling at a school like ours, families struggle finding the right words to describe the Sudbury Model of education to the people in their lives. We want to convey our excitement about the school and all the great things it has done for our children, but the words just don’t come easily. Well, never fear: here are three steps you can follow to become more confident in speaking about your experience.

  1. See for Yourself

Reading up on the Sudbury Model can help you assemble some facts and figures to keep in your back pocket for future conversations. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there for increasing your knowledge of the school.

First, here is how we at Alpine Valley School describe ourselves (on our website):

“At Alpine Valley School, students explore the world freely at their own pace and in their own unique ways. Our school creates a learning environment free of grades and grade levels, tests, and required classes. Instead, the students set their own educational paths, making their education meaningful and relevant.”

This passage is one of several from the About Us page on http://alpinevalleyschool.com. That entire section of the website is full of valuable information about Alpine Valley School, our history, and how we operate.

Not only that, but AVS staff members generate at least one new blog post per week. While the individual subjects vary, these posts typically contain interesting anecdotes and real-life experiences from the people who live this stuff every day. You can catch up on all our past posts by visiting the Alpine Valley School blog.

If you’re curious about the research and historical basis behind the Sudbury Model of education, we highly recommend the book Free to Learn by Dr. Peter Gray (who spoke at our campus last year).

 

  1. Listen to Testimonials

Sometimes it’s comforting to know that you aren’t treading into uncharted territory completely on your own. There are in fact people who’ve come before you with their own success stories to tell about Alpine Valley School. Here are some of our favorite resources from AVS graduates and parents—perhaps their stories will inspire you in telling your own!


 

 

  1. Use Your Own Words

While both written and audio presentations can be great resources, it’s also important that you feel comfortable and confident in your own knowledge about Alpine Valley School. We recommend taking notes throughout the research process and compiling your thoughts into a thirty-second elevator speech. Keeping your talk short and sweet will help you distill your message into its essential elements and communicate only the most important aspects of your experience.

What do you think? Were these resources helpful? Do you have any other favorite videos or books that really helped you describe your experience at Alpine Valley School or another organization like it? Contact us at info@alpinevalleyschool.com or 303-271-0525 to chat further!

Cultivating Courage is an ongoing series of posts (text, video, etc.) intended to help Alpine Valley School families feel confident in their choices. Supporting our students means becoming more informed and helping each other along this road less traveled. These posts will address common questions (e.g. “how will my child learn”) and provide a variety of useful resources.

Cultivating Courage: Part 3

In this week’s Cultivating Courage post we answer the question: How will my child get accepted into college after attending Alpine Valley School?

Future-looking parents often come to us with this question, expressing concern that their child will not be able to get into the college of their choice after attending a school like ours. In particular, they often express concern over the lack of GPAs, extracurricular activities, and standard-looking transcripts.

While it’s true that Alpine Valley School doesn’t place the same emphasis on grades as other institutions, our graduates do create their own unique transcripts. As personalized as an AVS education itself, this transcript often includes details regarding school positions the student held while enrolled (such as School Meeting Chair), as well as any involvement in school Corporations and Committees (such as Public Relations & Marketing). Authentic leadership positions such as these can really help a Sudbury college applicant stand out from the crowd.

Dr. Peter Gray (author of Free to Learn) has conducted a research study on grown unschoolers, much of which applies to students at Alpine Valley and other Sudbury schools. One part of his study, focusing on college admissions, can be found here: Survey of Grown Unschoolers: Going on to College. Of particular interest is his observation that “unlike so many others in the general population, most unschoolers do not consider college admission, or college graduation, or high grades in college, to be in any general sense a measure of life success.”

Along these same lines Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, wrote an article called Why Entrepreneurs Sometimes Struggle With Formal Education. Branson makes the point that many individuals who see things differently and are self-directed often struggle in a more traditional educational environment where mistakes (in other words, critically important learning tools) are not generally welcome. On the positive side, the passion and intensity of this kind of learner drive them to overcome obstacles standing between them and their dreams, such as getting into college.

Many individuals do choose to pursue a college education after graduating from Alpine Valley School, and many of them find the freedom they experience in their last few years at school gives them a leg up. AVS students can spend 100% of their time at school focused on studying for the SATs, working on challenging areas of study (such as calculus or English), and preparing all the necessary materials they will need to get accepted into the college of their choice. We’ve found that this kind of focused attention typically gives them a significant advantage over the traditional high school graduate, who does not have that kind of time to dedicate exclusively to college applications.

What are your thoughts? Did we spark any additional questions for you around college admissions? Give us a call at 303-271-0525 or email info@alpinevalleyschool.com to discuss this subject further.

Couldn’t attend the Get to Know AVS event last weekend? Check out the full video of the panel Q&A here:

Cultivating Courage is an ongoing series of posts (text, video, etc.) intended to help Alpine Valley School families feel confident in their choices. Supporting our students means becoming more informed and helping each other along this road less traveled. These posts will address common questions and provide a variety of useful resources.

Cultivating Courage: Part 2

Today in our continuing series Cultivating Courage we answer the following question: How can I trust that my child will act in their own best interest while at Alpine Valley School?

Once students have been enrolled at Alpine Valley School a while, parents often start feeling anxious about how their child is spending their days. In particular, many parents want to know that their child will make choices beneficial to their future in a place where many, many different options are available to them every day. As it turns out, the very act of trusting students can itself make all the difference.

Here are some real stories from Alpine Valley School graduates about how the trust they experienced while enrolled has shaped their adult lives:

It’s true that Alpine Valley School students are free to chart their own course, educational and otherwise. It’s also true that with this freedom comes responsibility—mainly the responsibility of taking charge of their own lives and making decisions that will impact their futures. Well, over the past 17 years we’ve found that the longer students are enrolled here, the more aware they are of this responsibility and the more seriously they take it. In addition, those students who are completely trusted with the reins of their own lives are more empowered, more engaged, and more excited about their future.

Dr. Peter Gray touched on this subject when he spoke at Alpine Valley School last year. Here’s he summarizes his findings on how children respond to this level of trust and responsibility:

Author and speaker Lenore Skenazy writes a blog called Free Range Kids (plus an outstanding book with the same title) whose tagline is: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Kids (Without Going Nuts With Worry). Her blog is chock-full of fascinating resources on the subject of trust, but here are a few examples particularly relevant to this subject:

What are your thoughts on the subject of trusting students? Do you find that trusting your child by enrolling them in Alpine Valley School (or a school like it) has made a difference in your family? Contact us at info@alpinevalleyschool.com or 303-271-0525 to let us know your feedback!

Also, did you know that we’re hosting an Open House on September 13th? Check it out and get your free tickets now!

Cultivating Courage is an ongoing series of posts (text, video, etc.) intended to help Alpine Valley School families feel confident in their choices. Supporting our students means becoming more informed and helping each other along this road less traveled. These posts will address common questions and provide a variety of useful resources.

Cultivating Courage Series

We are proud to unveil a new blog feature this week called Cultivating Courage, intended to help Alpine Valley School families feel confident in their choices. Supporting our students means becoming more informed and helping each other along this road less traveled. These posts will address common questions and provide a variety of useful resources.

Today’s question is: How do Alpine Valley School students learn the basics when they’re allowed to do whatever they want?

We often hear this question from new families who are trying to understand how their child will acquire foundational skills such as mathematics or literacy when they aren’t necessarily taught these subjects in a formal classroom. In reality, there are better places to learn these things than classrooms.

Not only do we find that acquiring the “basics” happens naturally, without any additional pressure from outside forces (parents, teachers, etc.), students actually learn better in the natural learning environment we provide at Alpine Valley School. In particular, they spend their time focusing on things they actually enjoy rather than subjects they are compelled to study, and they’re faced with a variety of real-life scenarios on a regular basis which provide excellent educational opportunities.

We asked AVS alum Joshua Mann about his experience, and here’s what he had to say: “AVS offers all of [the major] subjects, so long as the student is willing to put the effort and time into organizing and attending the classes. This is a method of curriculum that requires the student to be in charge of his or her own education in every sense. However, I believe there is so much more to learning than just that. Every conversation, every interaction, every moment we spend doing the things we want to do is an opportunity to learn. The reason I was able to learn so much at AVS is because that unstructured environment allowed me the freedom to do so.”

We also asked this question to a group of graduates at a recent panel interview. Watch a video clip below: we think you’ll find their answers fascinating and persuasive.

Dr. Peter Gray has written extensively about the subject of unstructured learning on his blog Freedom to Learn. Here are some brief examples of his insights:

So, what do you think? Does this match with your own child’s experience at Alpine Valley School? Contact us directly at info@alpinevalleyschool.com or via phone at 303-271-0525 – we’d love to hear your feedback!