Where is Southshire Community School located?
We are located at 24 Bank Street in the village of North Bennington, Vermont. Our campus is the historic Sidney Colvin Farm, a renovated 1850s farmhouse and barn on three acres of woods and meadow. We are within a 30-minute drive of Hoosick Falls, NY; Cambridge, NY; Arlington, VT; Manchester, VT; and Williamstown, MA.
What grades / ages does Southshire serve?
Kindergarten through Eighth Grade, ages 4.5 to 14.
Where do Southshire students come from?
We have students from surrounding communities in southern Vermont as well as from towns in neighboring New York and Massachusetts.
Is busing available?
Free busing is available in New York for residences of Hoosick Falls and Cambridge. Please contact the superintendent’s office of your local public school district for details.
What is Southshire’s enrollment?
Our average yearly enrollment is approximately 25 to 35 students in grades K-8, organized into three multi-age groups based on academic and developmental level.
How many teachers and instructors does Southshire have?
Southshire has 3 full-time teachers and 3 part-time instructors.
What is the student-faculty ratio?
Roughly 10:1, though it varies by year. Our low student-faculty ratio enables students at Southshire to receive plenty of individualized attention.
Is Southshire an approved independent school?
Yes, we are approved by the state of Vermont for Grades K-8.
How do you approach discipline?
Our goal is to encourage self-discipline. It is our experience that self-discipline is the only effective discipline. Self-discipline requires that the children participate in the decision-making process so they can feel that they matter and are in control of their existence. Self-discipline is learned from identifying problems, finding solutions, and living with the consequences.
How is academic progress measured?
Each child’s individual learning goals and work expectations are considered a key part of the academic program. Expectations are held with continuity and reflect the individual child’s learning style, ability, and need. The student is an active participant in the learning process. Progress is evaluated by a partnership of student, teacher, and parents, not by testing or letter grades.
In order to encourage intrinsic motivation, tests and grades are not used at Southshire. There is inherent value in the accomplishments of children, and the recognition of this enhances the joy of learning that is nurtured in each student.
A child cannot fail at Southshire. Progress is assessed based upon the achievement of individualized goals and standards of excellence that are realistic for each student. Each week, children meet individually with a teacher who reviews their work and supports them in planning and setting new goals.
Parents and teachers maintain an ongoing dialogue about students’ progress. In lieu of letter grades, teachers write two very comprehensive evaluation documents per year; these narrative reports are sent to parents in January and in June. Parent-teacher conferences, in which the child’s progress is discussed and parents are educated on how they can help their child to learn, are scheduled twice a year, in October and in January. Parents may request additional conferences at any time.
Expectations of the Vermont State Board of Education for learning and achievement are closely attended to at each grade level. As an approved independent school accepting students from tuitioning towns, Southshire will use the assessments required by those towns to measure the performance of tuitioned students. In addition, the school provides data on student assessment as required by the Vermont Agency of Education.
What high schools do students attend after Southshire?
We serve a diversity of families and we prepare students for diversity of educational paths.
Many students continue on to area public high schools such as Mount Anthony, Arlington Memorial, Cambridge Central, Salem, and Hoosick Falls. Others attend private schools such as Northfield Mount Herman, Emma Willard, Ethel Walker, LaSalle, Miss Hall’s, and Burr and Burton Academy.
Is financial aid available?
Yes, financial assistance is available. Southshire has a long history of maintaining affordable tuition for all families.
Does Southshire offer instruction in foreign languages, art, music, and drama?
We partner with regional experts to offer instruction in rhythm and instrumental music, art, and foreign languages.
What are some of your influences?
Southshire was founded in part by teachers trained at the Prospect School of North Bennington, VT. They brought with them the philosophy and practice of progressive education as developed at Prospect, including the use of descriptive student narratives and emergent curriculum. Emergent curriculum requires a keen understanding of each student. Observation and narrative are used to help elucidate the qualities of individual learners, which in turn guides the creation of curriculum based on demonstrated interests and an expectation of academic excellence.
Other influences include Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori, Ivan Illich, John Dewey, and other kindred souls. For more, please see our bibliography.
Southshire Community School does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, gender, religion, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admissions, or employment policies or practices.