John Dewey students learn how to gain healthy control of their lives in an environment that promotes self-respect and respect for others. The daily schedule provides a basic structure, yet also encourages the development of time management skills in order to meet the demands of a challenging curriculum. Students attend classes, study regularly, participate in Groups, complete household responsibilities, engage in physical exercise, and interact with their peers. When their schedules allow, they also pursue other areas of interest such as art, music, sports, gardening, and volunteer work.
Students attend classes for much of the school day. Between classes, they study or fulfill their responsibilities around the house. They also prepare and serve the lunch and dinner meals. In the evenings, students prepare for their classes (either individually or in small groups) during a quiet study hall from 7 until 9 p.m. Every night there is a peer-led Night Group for one hour. Curfew is at 11:30 p.m. except on Friday and Saturday nights, when students may stay up until 1 a.m.
After a three-hour Saturday morning study hall, students fulfill academic and personal responsibilities or engage in recreational activities. They may go into town for movies, shopping, and meals. Weekend activities, often initiated and planned by students, are approved by the Dean of Students and facilitated by the house parents. As a destination resort, the Berkshires region offers multiple cultural and recreational opportunities, including classical music, theater, ballet, museums, and lectures. During the summer, students can hike, swim, and camp; in the winter, ski slopes are only three miles away.
Students undertake responsibility for the maintenance and management of the school, including ordering food and cooking it, maintaining the grounds, and cleaning the building. Working in teams, they learn to address real-world tasks in a disciplined way. As they rise to positions in which they must render their opinions, act decisively, and delegate responsibilities, they develop strong leadership abilities. Student leaders manage the day-to-day duties of the business, academic advising, housekeeping, kitchen, and maintenance teams and also serve as academic advisers and tutors.
Students play an active role in formulating and implementing school policies. Although the Head of School retains the right to make the final determination, he remains accountable to the students, staff, and parents.
An oft-quoted motto at The John Dewey Academy is “You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.” In order to realize their potential and grow into mature adults, students need a caring community of peers and adults.
Positive peer pressure is a key element of the John Dewey experience. Staff supervision is advisory rather than authoritative: we encourage students to take ownership of their lives by making responsible choices. In large groups as well as intimate conversations, students support, encourage, and critique each other’s progress with honesty and caring concern. When students demonstrate to their peers and to the faculty that they have become responsible, productive members of the community, they earn status and privileges.
As students at The John Dewey Academy accept responsibility for their attitudes and acts, they learn to take control of their lives by becoming reliable and independent people. In the community, they learn to trust and be trusted, respect and be respected, help and be helped, and love and be loved. They regain their self-respect as they learn to make reasonable, responsible, and realistic decisions. Our students develop a positive concept of self and a strong, coherent philosophy of life. As they learn how to care for themselves and others, they contribute ever more to the betterment of the community.
- Mentored young children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berkshire County volunteer program
- Participated in writing competitions and workshops such as The New England Young Writers Workshop (“Bread Loaf”), Poetry Out Loud, and local poetry "slams"
- Entered art and music competitions
- Created and maintained a community garden
- Interned with a federal judge
- Hosted a weekly music program on a local radio station