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A Special School Celebrates Summer

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Message Daniel Patrick Welch

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
Ms. Julia, Lydia and Max pause from Summer work
(Image by Daniel Patrick Welch)
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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."

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."

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."

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. [miracles10]]

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."

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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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