Known for its developmental approach to teaching, Berkwood-Hedge is a school with empowered teachers who deeply know and understand their students. The staff spend a good share of their meeting time discussing individual students and how best to meet their needs. For years, they have pursued best practices that will enhance the classroom environment and engage students. Rather than leading with the "progressive" label, Berkwood Hedge would more aptly describe themselves as a constructivist school, where they continually assess students and draw upon the experiences of children to help shape the curriculum.
|Love Weinstock, Director|
Berkwood Hedge School
When I asked Love how the progressive philosophy best manifests at Berkwood Hedge, she cited the three-day "teach-in" that occurs each year, which is focused on a particular social justice theme. In past years, themes have included peace, the environment, understanding learning differences, and world geography. Each of the the three days, the kids experience workshops, presentations, performances, games and other events that are geared toward a deep understanding of the theme, and built to engage kids at their appropriate developmental level. It has become a time-honored tradition at the school
"Sign-ups," which occur three times during the year, provide teachers and students an opportunity to develop classes that arise from the interests and skills found in the community. The third "sign-up of the year is run entirely by the fourth and fifth grade students.
Love has been impressed with the level of student engagement in the Berkwood Hedge classrooms. She talks about how few discipline issues arise because the teachers have created such engaging curriculum: "There is little reason for kids to act out; who they are is honored here at the school, and they know they have the respect of their teachers, who keep their social and emotional development at the forefront."
The day I visited the school, I navigated my way past the chicken coop, around the playground, dodging running kindergarteners and wheeled toys. Love stopped often to introduce me to the students and engage in a brief conversation. It truly is a fun and enthusiastic place where joyful learning is taking place. I am always impressed with and inspired by the commitment of the Berkwood Hedge teachers to keep their eye on what is best for the kids. Clearly at this school, even when things get busy, the children come first.