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Democracy in Action

Student speaking into microphone

Engaged citizenship in a democratic society is best learned through action.

Student stands with a clipboard, the Capitol Building and Washington Monument in the background

Engaged Citizenship

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."

Student holding a "Kids Demand Action" sign

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.

Teacher greets student warmly

First Name Basis

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."

A student created a heart with her fingers and looks through it

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.

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 ’02, Sidwell Friends ’06, Wellesley College ’10, University of Pennsylvania ’18