Looking back over the previous few years, The Greenhouse School has faced some tough
times. In succession, the small independent school on Boston's north shore have faced a
flood, a burglary, and a fire along with the death of its Founder and another key
Trustee. "I guess it's something just to say we're still standing," says
Director Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Given the additional weight of the economic climate,
which has put enormous pressure on small enterprises everywhere, there may be something
to be said for that.
Ms. Julia, Lydia and Max pause from Summer work by Daniel Patrick Welch
Marcus helping Sam and Bunmi with math by Daniel Patrick Welch
Now in its 30th year, the year round school which has served families from all over the
north shore shows no signs of stopping. "With any luck, we'll be here another
30," says Director Dan Welch, who is also Nambalirwa-Lugudde's husband. The couple,
who took over from Founder Patricia Jennings-Welch [also Welch's mom] in 2006, is looking
forward to the future. "Of course the economy has been a challenge," says
Welch, "Not to mention all the other obstacles. But we love the work we do, and we
love the fact that we are continuing a wonderful legacy."
Mr. Danny and Jumana with doll complete with Ms. Julia's hijab by Daniel Patrick Welch
Keanu with little brother Teagan sneaking in for the occasion by Daniel Patrick Welch
Indeed, on one of the school's recent overnights, which it holds occasionally in the
Summer for older students, it seemed almost poetic. Watching the kids frolic in the
school's many gardens, Welch wrote in a note to parents: "I can't help but look
around at the school and wax nostalgic. Despite the difficulties, we are surrounded by
little kids we have nurtured, taught and helped to raise. When I look further and see
that we are being helped in this task by older kids we also nurtured, taught and helped
to raise, it brings on a feeling of almost pure joy."
Always time for special attention: Ms. Julia braiding Funmi's hair by Daniel Patrick Welch
Art, Alegbra & Agriculture share the spotlight by Daniel Patrick Welch
With their sleeping bags laid out beneath the school's iconic enormous rubber tree, the
kids invite reflection. Welch adds, "Here we are, modeling for the kids not only
with our own behavior, but also with that of their peers and forerunners: in college or
on the way to college, worrying about their own advanced math and summer reading while
helping the little guys with theirs... This is the miracle of what Greenhouse School can
achieve when things go as they are meant to do. Algebra and trig are just extensions of
what the younger kids are doing, and the continuum of knowledge really highlights our
motto of Never Stop Learning."
Jumana, Teagan & Ms. Kyanna by Daniel Patrick Welch
Nothing like a good night's sleep under the rubber tree by Daniel Patrick Welch
The little guys rush to get into the act when they join the group in the morning to find
their older siblings still sleeping Without prompting, they mixed in with their older
peers while Ms. Julia and Mr. Danny arranged the morning activities. Teagan, age four,
even found his way into the sleeping bag to snuggle up with older brother Keanu--making
sure to note, however: "When I was at my house--I didn't cry for you!"
"You can't buy memories like that," muses Nambalirwa-Lugudde.
Having the pool all to ourselves - priceless! by Daniel Patrick Welch
Actually, the overnights, combined with this morning after ritual, provide a unique way
to help the kids bond with each other and create lasting memories and commitment
to learning, and they seem almost to forget that they are doing schoolwork throughout the
Summer. "Academics, farming, art--they are all important," says Welch as he
puts a finer point on it: "We want them to feel it: School. Is. Fun.--at least *our*
school--and they will never forget it."
...as is running a farm by Daniel Patrick Welch