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Life Arts

A Special School Celebrates Summer

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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." is running a farm by Daniel Patrick Welch

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(c) 2014 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted with credit and link to Political analyst, writer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife. Together (more...)

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Please share with friends if you like what you see... by Daniel Patrick Welch on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 9:59:35 AM
Well done, well done.... by KEVIN JONES on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 12:33:28 PM
Full disclosure: i am a grandparent of one of the ... by herbert fox on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 5:24:47 PM
and you all do an amazing job!  I love hearin... by Meryl Ann Butler on Thursday, Aug 8, 2013 at 8:02:45 PM
Thanks all for your comments! It means a lot. Whil... by Daniel Patrick Welch on Friday, Aug 9, 2013 at 6:54:34 AM
For as long as I've known Dan and Julia, their com... by Alamaine Ratliff on Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 11:36:21 AM
Wow, Alamaine--that was a very nice comment! Stay ... by Daniel Patrick Welch on Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 at 9:41:19 AM
I a... by Shai Martinez on Monday, Aug 19, 2013 at 1:59:52 PM