Sunset Sudbury Communtiy Lending Library

Sunset Sudbury School is proud to announce its new community lending library. We have books on Creativity & Culture, Learning, Parenting, and of course the Sudbury philosophy. Whatever your education philosophy, you’ll find some interesting reads. Here are just a few.

Rethinking the old paradigm…

Education classics…

Attachment parenting gems…

Check out our complete library here… http://www.gurulib.com/sunsetsudbury
 
Please contact us at info@sunsetsudbury.org or call 954-404-7785 to come by and borrow one of our books. Thank you to all who donated the many education and attachment parenting books!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sunset Sudbury: The Children’s Imagination

Ever wonder what might be your child’s ideal school? Well, I got a little glimpse today when three students came running up to me today very excited to tell me all about their “magic school”. They insisted I write this down so they wouldn’t forget.
 
The Magic School has…

  • fairies with pixie dust for flying and a magic glowing flower,
  • sharks that help you swim and don’t bite if you don’t bother them,
  • water fountains and real mermaids,
  • bounce houses and water slides,
  • stars that glow,
  • a real-life Rapunzel,
  • rainbows, snow, reindeer, and a beach,
  • new markers (and you get to keep them),
  • it’s in Colorado,
  • only kids can go, but parents can pick them up,
  • gifts that don’t run out,
  • squirrels that don’t bite,
  • flowers you can climb on,
  • shots from the doctor don’t hurt,
  • Rapunzel can sing out splinters with her magic song,
  • Santa Claus is there,
  • invisible gold rocks that you trip over and then the fairies make you fly,
  • there’s a lot of things…

The independent learning environment at Sunset Sudbury allows the children to be as creative as possible and to have such wonderful imaginations, like the “Magic School.” Contact us if you are interested in learning more about our self directed learning school in Broward County.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five Reasons to Enroll your Child in Sunset Sudbury School

  1. Every student is honored at Sunset Sudbury School –  In a traditional school, the principal and the teachers have more power than students.   The students are the lowest entities in the school.  Students are ranked and valued, and devalued, based on academic and social measures interpreted by administrators.  At Sunset Sudbury School, all students are treated with respect.  The democratic school community – consisting of both students and adult staff members – determines the rules of the school community and the expectations for the community members.  Every student’s opinion and individuality is honored through the democratic voting process for all decision-making at Sunset Sudbury School.
  2. Sunset Sudbury School students want to go to school –  Students enjoy their school community and flourish in it.   The students arrive excited to start their day and leave reluctantly when their parents pick them up in the afternoon.  School holidays are met with ‘boos’ and ‘sighs’ rather than excitement or relief.   One family of a young elementary school student shared a weekend conversation.
  3. All activities are determined by the students – At Sunset Sudbury School, all activities are valued equally.  Whether a student chooses to explore bugs, watercolors, algebra, video games or world history, the activity is respected because the student chose to do it.  This allows a student to thoroughly study and explore a topic until they choose another adventure.
  4. Sudbury students are self-motivated – Just like when they were 3 or 4 years old, Sunset Sudbury students are eager to learn new things.  Traditional schools train kids to sit back and wait for the teacher’s instruction.  Sunset Sudbury students have a natural curiosity and interest in new things. Therefore, they are continually trying experimenting, learning new skills and asking deeper questions.
  5. Age-mixing versus separation by age. –  Image a 7-year-old demonstrating the reaction of baking soda and vinegar to a group of 5-year-olds with his self-made volcano. The 9-year-old jumps in to explain when to add more vinegar.  The students of all ages work together. When the students work and play together, students with small hands or less dexterity still get the fun and excitement of more detailed experiments.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Radical K-12 Broward County School Defies Critics with Increased Enrollment after First Year

No Grades, No Tests, No Teachers.  No Problem!  Sunset Sudbury School proves that there is a need for a radical K-12 school in Broward County, Florida.

May 9, 2011 – Davie, Florida  — Imagine a school where students get to do whatever they want all day long.  Imagine those students later excelling in life and at the nation’s best universities.  Sunset Sudbury School, http://www.sunsetsudbury.org, based in Davie, Florida is proud to celebrate a successful first year.  The Broward County K-12 school was created based on the Sudbury School Model, a democratic school that takes student empowerment and child-directed learning to extremes.

Featured on The Today Show, MSNBC News, FoxNews and Sun-Sentinel for its radical approach to education, Sunset Sudbury School is truly a different paradigm for education. It is not just a slight alteration of what most people think of as a “school.” Indeed, it is much closer to what in recent years has come to be known as “un-schooling” than it is to any other kind of alternative school.

At Sunset Sudbury School, students from kindergarten through high school age explore the world freely, at their own pace and in their own unique ways. They learn to think for themselves and learn to unearth the knowledge they need from multiple sources, including Information Age tools. They develop the ability to make clear logical arguments and deal with complex ethical issues. Through self-initiated activities, they pick up the basics; as they direct their lives, they take responsibility for outcomes, set priorities, allocate resources, and work with others in a vibrant community of learners.

The fundamental premises of the school are simple: that all people are curious by nature; that the most efficient, long-lasting, and profound learning takes place when started and pursued by the learner; that all people are creative if they are allowed to develop their unique talents; that age-mixing among students promotes growth in all members of the group; and that freedom is essential to the development of personal responsibility.

In practice this means that students initiate all their own activities and create their own environment. The school provides a setting in which students are independent, are trusted, and are treated as responsible people; and a community in which students are exposed to the complexities of life in the framework of a participatory democracy.

Throughout its first year, Sunset Sudbury School has operated on a shoestring budget, relying on volunteer staff and donations from the community.  Nevertheless, Sunset Sudbury School enrollment grew by 30% this past year, and they have big plans for the future, with a Summer Camp, a site remodeling and other improvement projects scheduled for the coming months.

Despite criticism and naysayers who question whether the students are actually learning, the staff at Sunset Sudbury School can confidently say that the students have made huge accomplishments this past year. The list includes learning to problem solve on their own, expressing their interests and making decisions about student-initiated field trips and lesson plans, planning holiday parties and initiating art and community improvement projects – all without being told or forced to do so by an adult.

“We are so excited to achieve this important milestone in the growth of our school,” explains Kathy Williams, Co-Founder of the Sunset Sudbury School in Davie, FL.  “But we couldn’t have done it without the support and generous donations of our community, who believed in us and wanted to help us succeed.  We hope that more families will consider the Sudbury Model of education in helping their children become more independent. ”

The Broward County Sudbury School is conveniently located at 4200 NW 66 Avenue, Davie, FL 33024, near the Florida Turnpike, so it’s a perfect location for families from Broward and / or Dade County.

About Sunset Sudbury School:

Sunset Sudbury School, located in Davie, Florida, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, private school based on the 40-year old Sudbury model of education.  Sunset Sudbury School offers students ages 4 through 18 unlimited opportunities for self-directed learning in a supportive community environment.  Sunset Sudbury School is part of an international network of Sudbury Schools, all of which are based on Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts, http://www.sudval.org.   The concepts Freedom, Trust and Responsibility are at the heart of the Sudbury model.  Sudbury Schools are run democratically ensuring that students have the freedom to direct their own education. Sudbury graduates move into their adult lives as self-confident, articulate, resourceful and motivated individuals.

The Sunset Sudbury School is open from 8 am to 3:30 pm, with after-school care available upon request.  Sunset Sudbury School follows the same school calendar as Broward County Schools.

Visit Sunset Sudbury School online at http://www.SunsetSudbury.org, or follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SunsetSudbury) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/SunsetSudbury) for more details about our unique alternative school in Broward County.

Media Inquiries:
Kathy Williams
Co-Founder
Sunset Sudbury School
Kathy@sunsetsudbury.org
Phone: 954-404-7785

Posted in News, Press Releases | 1 Comment

Why Self Directed Learning Schools are Better for K-12 students

It is our nature to be curious. Look at very young children, they are unstoppable! And I have never seen a bored newborn! It seems that when children are allowed to pursue their own interests and master their environment, which is when real learning begins. They are born with the ability to focus on and follow their own internal agendas. This was not valued in the industrial-era, and rightly so. But we are in a new era now and the game has changed.

Why are schools failing? Or you can ask why are so many students failing? I think the answer lies in asking one more question: Why are we trying to educate children that live in the information age in an industrial-era school system? The entire public school system was created by and for the industrial age. In order to exist in a functioning industrial society there needed to be immense standardization and acceptance by the students that all the “training” they were enduring was required by the industrial society in order to function effectively.

During the dawn of the post-industrial era, many children began to realize that the outdated techniques of imparting information as well as the information itself did not apply to their needs or the current social structure. This realization has been more intuitive than analytical, but it is nonetheless widespread. As a result, industrial era schools rapidly have been losing their ability to succeed at all in forcing a standard level of competence on everyone in the limited industrial subjects, no matter how many variations they introduced in the process.

“An effective education in the information age must be entirely free of the tyranny of segmented time.” Children in the information age must learn the exact opposite way they had to learn in the still present industrial schools. They must be allowed complete freedom to become self-directed people. The present society including the business world demands it.
If you are looking for alternative schooling in South Florida, look into enrolling your child at Sunset Sudbury, Florida’s fir Sudbury Model School. Contact Us for more information.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Education Options for Children with ADHD in South Florida

“Leila, was that a dream? Or is your school real?” Suzy asked my daughter after spending the day at Sunset Sudbury School.  Six students sat in the art room working on their projects while explaining the school to Suzy. At first she couldn’t believe that the school didn’t have any teachers. Leila corrected her, “Everybody is a teacher here, even the kids.” It didn’t take long for Suzy to catch on. She is an incredibly bright and intensely curious seven-year-old. She speaks three languages fluently and is working on a fourth. She is really active, soaking in her environment wherever she goes. She was a pleasure to have at our school and all the students liked her.

Towards the end of her very busy day at Sunset Sudbury, she decided that the art room needed cleaning. With a broom in hand, she recruited three students to help her. She gently directed and coordinated their efforts. When the job was complete, Suzy decided that students needed reminders to keep the art room clean. Again she recruited student to make signs and post them around the room.

“How lucky we would be to have her as a student,” I later told her mother. She agreed that Suzy was very bright, but talked too much in class. The teachers at her public school (which is “in a very good school district in South Florida”) recommended that she be tested for ADHD. Suzy’s mom was genuinely concerned. My heart sank. I looked at her straight in the eye and said, “There is nothing wrong with Suzy. Don’t let them tell you that there is anything wrong with her and don’t let them tell her that there is anything wrong with her. It is more likely that there is something wrong with that school.” Suzy’s mom said thank you and broke down crying. I hope she got it.

For a different perspective on ADHD, see Peter Gray’s blog ADHD and School: The Problem of Assessing Normalcy in an Abnormal Environment and Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about Changing Education Paradigms (See Video Below).

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Seeking new staff member

Sunset Sudbury School seeks a part-time staff person to work with students ages 4-18 in its self-directed democratic program. This is not a traditional teaching position, and we are not looking for traditional teachers. During our start-up phase, compensation will be provided in the form of tuition waivers. Staff members are expected to work 2-3 days per week with flexible hours.

Sunset Sudbury School opened its doors as a non-profit, private school last August. We are located in Davie, Florida and currently have 10 students enrolled. At Sunset Sudbury School, students explore the world freely, at their own pace and in their own unique ways. They learn to think for themselves, and acquire the knowledge they need from multiple sources, including nature, books, technology, and people. Trust and respect are the keys to the school’s success. Students enjoy total intellectual freedom, and unfettered interaction with other students and adults. Through being responsible for themselves and for the school’s operation, they gain the internal resources needed to lead effective lives.

Being a successful staff person at Sunset Sudbury School requires an ability to honor the choices of others even when those choices are not those you would make, and an ability to trust in the school’s peer-based judicial system to adequately resolve conflicts and rule infractions. Staff at Sunset Sudbury School do not create activities for students to pursue and do not have the authority to unilaterally establish or enforce rules. Instead, staff at Sunset Sudbury School are available as facilitators and friends as students pursue their own interests.

Required Qualifications:

  • Belief in the natural impulse of children (and adults!) to strive for personal growth; commitment to one’s own personal growth
  • Must be extremely reliable and safety-conscious
  • Possess high levels of professionalism, personal maturity, and authenticity
  • Excellent communication and literacy skills, must be able to interact effectively and respectfully with children and adults from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Be an interested, interesting, engaged, and passionate person
  • Strong self-management skills, including high levels of initiative and ability to authentically and effectively prioritize, including the ability to decline requests from children when appropriate
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of student and family data, as well as to keep a constant eye out for the protection of student privacy in less formal ways
  • Ability to pass required background checks
  • General ability to physically participate in the school’s program

Please send your resume and letter of interest to info@sunsetsudbury.org. Thank you for your interest.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunset Sudbury School Announces “A Taste of Sudbury” Summer Camp Program

Broward County progressive, K-12 private school offers children ages 5-13 opportunity to experience self-directed learning in a community environment with no teachers

April 4, 2011 – Davie, Florida  (PRW) — Sunset Sudbury School, http://www.sunsetsudbury.org, is proud to announce “A Taste of Sudbury”, the school’s inaugural Summer Camp Program, which will be held from June 13th to August 12th, 2011.  A Taste of Sudbury is a unique opportunity for children ages 5-13 to experience the freedom and challenges of life at Sunset Sudbury School during the Summer.  During the nine week Summer Camp, parents and students can see first-hand the unlimited opportunities for self-directed learning in a supportive community environment.

Unlike traditional summer camp programs that have a rigid structure and schedule, Sunset Sudbury School encourages campers to democratically determine the camp activities.  The campers cast their votes to select the field trips of the week.  For example, pizza party, movies, skating, museums, fire station tour, bowling, beach, swimming, nature tours, anything and everything, limited only by their imagination and interests.

Campers will have fun, explore and enjoy activities that they design with their friends in a playful community environment.    There will be two options for The Sunset Sudbury School Summer Camp.  Parents can choose from 9 am to 3:30 pm, Monday-Friday, for a cost of $150 per week, or Monday-Friday from 8 am to 6 pm for $175 per week.  Enroll your child in the Sunset Sudbury School Summer Camp program before May 13th and receive a 10% discount.  With its “Play More, Save More” program, the school is also offering multi-session and sibling discounts, as well.

“We are so excited to welcome new families to experience A Taste of Sudbury with this 9-week summer camp,” explains Kathy Williams, Co-Founder of the Sunset Sudbury School in Davie, FL.  “If you’re searching for a fun and exciting place that gives your child a chance to grow and discover who they are in a dynamic and supportive community environment give A Taste of Sudbury a try!”

The Broward County Sudbury School is conveniently located at 4200 NW 66 Avenue, Davie, FL 33024, near the Florida Turnpike, so it’s a perfect location for families from Broward and / or Dade County.

About Sunset Sudbury School:

Sunset Sudbury School, located in Davie, Florida, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, private school based on the 40-year old Sudbury model of education.  Sunset Sudbury School offers students ages 4 through 18 unlimited opportunities for self-directed learning in a supportive community environment.  Sunset Sudbury School is part of an international network of Sudbury Schools, all of which are based on Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts, http://www.sudval.org.   The concepts Freedom, Trust and Responsibility are at the heart of the Sudbury model.  Sudbury Schools are run democratically ensuring that students have the freedom to direct their own education. Sudbury graduates move into their adult lives as self-confident, articulate, resourceful and motivated individuals.

The Sunset Sudbury School is open from 8 am to 3:30 pm, with after-school care available upon request.  Sunset Sudbury School follows the same school calendar as Broward County Schools.

Visit Sunset Sudbury School online at http://www.SunsetSudbury.org, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more details about our unique alternative school in Broward County.

Media Inquiries:
Kathy Williams
Co-Founder
Sunset Sudbury School
Kathy@sunsetsudbury.org
Phone: 954-404-7785

Posted in News, Press Releases | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lesson in Bones

At one student’s request, Dr. Danny Wescott, Professor of Anthropology at Florida International University, hauled his bone collection over to our school to share with students.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A parent reflects on her child’s learning

by Carla Rover

My 6 year old pulls a face and insists that 5 more minutes of play won’t make him too sleepy to wake up in the morning. I pretend to grudgingly give in. His “play” is learning about how a laser works. He takes his chalkboard and writes a question. He then flips through his encyclopedia and looks under “L” for info. “Not enough facts”, he says tersely, and goes to his computer to google for more answers. A full 15 minutes later he is drawing a sketch of a laser saber, determining that reflective surfaces, a stable energy source and a method of intensifying and focusing the light would be necessary to “create the Star Wars effect”. “How many reflective surfaces do I need?” I shrug. “What are the shapes and material that I would need mommy? – wait, I will look it up”. He flips through various books in his room, geometry, a pre-school book of shapes, and a physics book. He looks at the illustrations, picks out the words that he can read and writes his findings on his chalkboard, asking for help to spell “intensify”. He then yawns and demands a story.

Is this learning? It depends on who you ask. Blake attends Sunset Sudbury School where his interest in physics, biology and art is not only encouraged, it is indulged. He spends his school day asking questions, exploring a garden and flipping through books. His learning is effortless, organic and spontaneous. Since Blake has started the school, his appetite for knowledge has exploded. Why? I believe it is because he has learned that curiosity is his right and that it is a necessary part of his “job” as a child. His “job” is not to fill out paperwork (worksheets), or sit at a desk and be spoon-fed what he ought to think and believe. His job, as an individual growing into an adult is to attempt to make sense of the world around him, asking questions and exploring the wealth of resource around him. When at home, Blake has become not only more comfortable with learning as it is now, in his mind, free of judgement, but he has become an active recorder of his own acquisition of new knowledge. He has also learned to respect the way his unique learning style. “I do my times tables with pictures”, he tells me. “Some people do, some people don’t. I like it that my school doesn’t say I should know something if I don’t. I just have to learn it right?” It is my joy, and my privilege to send my son to a school that allows his young mind the freedom that it requires to develop a thirst for knowledge and the confidence seek answers to his questions, using his own methods. Is my child learning every day? – yes, but not just 6 hours per day, it is continual. Has his reading improved? Immeasurably, both in confidence and in speed. Why? He learns all day in a judgement-free environment, so his ability to analyze and solve problems is unhindered by negative labeling. He has the emotional strength to tackle a difficult word or life problem without feeling like, as he said “someone will write a big red number that says you’re dumb on your paper and make your mommy sign it.”  Ranging from reading to conceptual math, Blake now picks up books and teaches himself, summoning mommy for limited help and then pushing me away because “I am my own teacher”.  I believe Sunset Sudbury’s model can work for any child – what is required is the courage to raise not accountants, publicists or senators, we must seek to raise human beings first, and careerists second. My son will grow to determine his state of being, his method of learning and eventually his career.  He will see himself as the direct actor in determining what he believes and what path his life will take. This, to me, is the most important part of my child’s lifelong learning experience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment