RIGOROUS EDUCATION FOR DEEP THINKERS AND CREATIVE SPIRITS. PRESCHOOL-8TH GRADE. EST. 1981
At 25, Center School Celebrates, Looks Forward
May 12, 2006
By DIANE BRONCACCIO
GREENFIELD — Laura Baker was talking about Greenfield Center School’s 25th anniversarycelebration when an eighth-grader interrupted, asking for a garden rake, so he could do yard work during a morning recess.
Baker, the private school’s executive director, wasn’t surprised a student would want to police the school grounds on such a beautiful morning. She said students often pitch in when they see something that needs fixing, because they learn to see themselves as part of the school community.
“Often our kids will see something that needs to be done, and they’ll say: ‘Give me the stuff to do it,’” said Baker. “We want them to notice what needs to be done, to have the skills to do it, and the courage to do it.
“We’re a little unusual,” she admitted, “but on the really good side.”
Two decades before author Daniel Goleman wrote in his best-seller, “Emotional Intelligence,” that a child’s ability to relate to others is a better indicator of success than academic grades — a group of local teachers formed a private school that considers social and emotional development as essential to education.
On Saturday, the Greenfield Center School celebrates its 25th anniversary with co-founders, alumni and current students. The event will be held on school grounds on Montague City Road from noon to 7 p.m. Among festivities will be the burying of a time capsule filled with objects selected by students, to be opened 25 years from now. Co-founders Ruth Charney, Marlynn Clayton, Chip Wood and Jay Lord will be honored.
Also, a new mosaic entrance sign, which was worked on by this year’s 140 students from kindergarten through grade 8, will be unveiled.
The goal in creating the school 25 years ago was to stress students’ social and emotional development as well as their academic skills.
“Empathy” is a word taught from kindergarten, because sensitivity to the feelings of others — knowing how others feel — is a basis of community-building, she explained.
“Even our school song is: “I Want to Walk a Mile in Your Shoes,” said Baker. She said empathy is the starting point for mediation and conflict-resolution. “You have to negotiate from a place of understanding,” she said.