Press Release

Thetford Academy Awarded grant to Institutionalize Service-learning and the High Schools on the Move Principles.

The John Dewey Project on Progressive Education, in partnership with the Vermont State Department of Education, has awarded this year's High Schools on the Move Through Service-learning grant to Thetford Academy in recognition of its leadership in the field of service-learning-based high school reform. The Vermont State Department of Education has secured these Learn and Serve funds to support the 12 High Schools on the Move Principles generated by the High School Task Force's work on high school renewal and reform. Applications for the $36,000 grant were open to schools with service-learning course offerings that had been sustained for at least five years and that reached a broad base of students. Service-learning, as defined in the Request for Proposals, is "a method whereby students learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that is conducted in and meets the needs of the community."

By consistently demonstrating their commitment to service-learning over the past decade, Thetford has already earned itself the honor of being acknowledged as a National Service-learning Leader School. Now, through the use of these Learn and Serve funds, Thetford will be able to serve as a model for the state of Vermont. These funds will support the formation of a "learning circle", composed of students, teachers, staff, and community members who will work toward the further integration of service-learning into Thetford's curriculum and provide vital community outreach. In addition, TA will mentor an "emergent school" through the process of developing a sustainable service-learning model.

Thetford will be looking to more fully develop their service-learning program while advancing professional collaboration both within the school and the broader community. As stated in their grant application, "[W]e've come to see the two themes as closely linked. Service-learning works best when it's supported by effective adult partnerships - by teachers and community members who work and learn together, and who model that collaboration for students. At the same time, the climate of collegial support fosters innovation and outreach. Teachers are more willing to connect student learning with community needs and issues when they have their own context for shared work." In that spirit, Thetford's already existent Service-learning Core Team will work in concert with the Learning Circle to meet the objectives laid out in their grant application.

For more information, please contact Christopher Koliba, Director of the John Dewey Project by email

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