Democracy in Action
Green Acres School's founder, Alice Mendham Powell, believed education to be "the engine of social change."
At Green Acres, we believe that school should reflect the democractic process, and that active voices—including children's voices—are vital to democracy. Our students learn about democracy not only as a topic of study in classes, but also from living many of its ideals, including civic engagement, service to others, active participation, and good citizenship.
Below are some of the many ways in which democractic principles are manifest in our everyday practices.
People are always encouraging you to take the lead. It doesn't matter that you're a kid—you're not too young to change the world. -Julia '22
The benefits of being comfortable talking to adults go beyond school—it's given me the confidence to approach policymakers, officeholders, and authority figures as I advocate for change. -Michael '14
The service learning program at Green Acres inspired my passion for community service. Green Acres teaches students [... that] one person can make a big change in the world. -Lucy '17
Calling teachers by their first names is a deliberate and values-driven practice to remind us that students and teachers are partners in learning. A way to foster respect and inclusivity, as well as a sense of belonging and community, it helps us to break down unproductive barriers and to have our students see the adults who teach them as whole people with interests that transcend what they do in the classroom—just as research suggests that teachers, to be most effective, need to understand their students as "whole children.
Our founder, Alice Mendham Powell, said that "Training citizens begins in preschool." Green Acres students develop the courage to stand up for justice, respect, peace, and kindness. As longtime Green Acres educator Nan Shapiro, now retired, puts it: “I can’t think of a more political act than helping to raise children with empathy, children who know and respect the great diversity in the world, who understand the natural world and its fragility, who stand up for themselves and others, and who understand that we need their participation."
True to our progressive philosophy, we look for and support ways for students of all ages to pursue their own paths of inquiry or take on initiatives of special interest to them. In recent years, student-led initatives have included 5th and 6th graders writing their own musical, 3rd graders launching a talent show, Middle Schoolers creating their own clubs, action groups, and workshops (e.g., GSA, Marine Biology Club, Day of Action), and a Kindergartener presenting to the Pre-K about a personal passion related to the Pre-K students' topic of study—just to name a few!
Diversity & Inclusion
As part of our mission, Green Acres seeks to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the school community. Diversity speaks to identities including but not limited to ability, age, diet, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and all the ways they intersect. Learn more >
Today, I tackle social justice issues and community issues from an academic perspective, but all of these different threads began with the mindset I learned at Green Acres.-Mohona Siddique ’02, Sidwell Friends ’06, Wellesley College ’10, University of Pennsylvania ’18
The value of helping others, both within our school and in the world beyond, permeates the Green Acres community. Service is integrated into the curriculum as much as possible. At the end of each service learning project, our students evaluate their experiences. With smiles of accomplishment, children always agree that it feels good to help others. When students reflect on their experiences, they are better able to make sense of the world around them and be better equipped to affect it. Learn more >
Voices and Choices
At Green Acres, we listen to children’s voices. We recognize that children have important, powerful thoughts and ideas, and we want to hear them! Students make many choices during each day at Green Acres. This empowers them, increases their motivation, and develops in them a desire to learn not for a prize or a reward, but for learning’s sake.
A Community Corporation
Green Acres School operates as a corporation, meaning that every parents has an equal vote on school policies presented at the annual Corporation Meeting. Additionally, the Board of Trustees includes up to three voting staff members. All of the above help to ensure that the school operates with integrity and transparency.
On the Green Acres campus, natural beauty flourishes throughout 15+ acres of pristine forest, outdoor pathways, gardens, and playgrounds. A part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by way of the Potomac River and our very own creek, Green Acres serves as a reminder of what native landscapes may have looked like hundreds of years ago. Protecting these organic gems is a crucial part of our curriculum, operations, initiatives, and traditions. Green Acres School was named a MAEOE Maryland Green School in 2015 and 2019. Learn more >