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Kelly’s Working Well Farm to open democratic school this fall

Kelly’s Working Well Farm in Chagrin Falls is opening a K-12 democratic school this fall. The launch of the school follows four years of successful day camps and the development of the farm as an example of the permaculture philosophy. The school is enrolling for full and part-time (home-schooled) students now and will open its inaugural year on Monday, August 29.

The School at Kelly’s Working Well Farm will follow the democratic, or Sudbury Valley model of education. In a democratic school all learning is student directed and every member of the school has a voice in developing and enforcing rules, and making important decisions about how the school will operate. The farm itself provides a unique context for connecting with nature and developing interests in virtually any field from science and art to literature and computer science. Students can also develop entrepreneurial skills through the planned farm store.

Farm owner Kelly Clark has been an educator for nearly 30 years, spending most of her career teaching high school physics along with math and design/engineering, and most recently food systems. The democratic model, based on freedom and responsibility, puts the student in charge of their education while developing their social skills as participants in a direct democracy with real decision-making power. “We are creating a small-scale public sphere in which each participant from the youngest 5 year-old to the most senior staff member is a fully realized person with an equal vote in what the rules should be, consequences for breaking rules, and even how the budget will be spent” says Clark.

Many people understand that traditional schooling, developed for the industrial age, is not the best way for kids to develop a passion for life-long learning, or even a great preparation for a changing world that requires autonomous, creative problem solvers. “Kids are natural learners who want to discover everything they can about the topics they choose themselves. The more time they spend in school, the less they seem able to learn independently.”

The school will be holding an informational session with a slideshow and Q and A on Tuesday, August 16 at 7:00 pm at 16519 South Franklin Street, Chagrin Falls. For more information see the web-site, or call (440)823-5779 or email to set up an appointment to tour the farm/school and learn more about this unique program. We are also on Facebook - like the School at Kelly’s Working Well Farm or Kelly’s Working Well Farm!