You have to be there to appreciate the setting of this school. A quarter mile drive along a wooded country road opens to the campus placed almost surrealistically on a little farm-like setting, with sheep, chickens, and oh, yes, lots of little kids running around. I'm sure the children of Rose Valley have discovered better than I descriptors of their campus over the years, and the annals of the school must include poetry and prose giving justice to this magical place of learning and play.
Todd describes SRV as a "learning oyster." Students leap off the buses and cars in the morning "ready to resume," as though for them, other things have interrupted the important part of life. Todd invoked the conversation of two SRV teachers who were recently enjoying the sights and sounds of this kid village: building stuff in the woods, laughter on the swings, purposeful learning in the classrooms, like an anthill where everyone has a serious role to play. I can testify that I witnessed it all first-hand.
Todd sees progressive schools as places where learning is hunted down, and where students are hunter-gatherers with huge appetites for new ideas and the wild boar of knowledge. All the notions of activity based, hands-on, experiential and place-based learning are in the teaching quiver. When I asked Todd about his definition of progressive education, he allowed that his expression of it has changed over the years, particularly since coming to SRV. He sees progressive education resembling more and more what he imagines the workplace of the future to look like. Ingenuity, inventiveness, collaboration, and industry. In the name of efficiency and productivity, a kind of textured, nuanced learning will be essential.