Academics play a central role at John Dewey, and most of our faculty have doctorates and college teaching experience. They are passionate about their mission and they transmit this passion, along with their maturity and stability, to their students. They also bring into their classes varied life experiences that ground their academic focus in real-world challenges.
Dean of Faculty | English Literature
Math and Science
Lisa A. Buttrey-Thomas
Math and Science
At the John Dewey Academy, teachers and clinicians collaborate closely to create a thoughtful and caring learning environment for our college‐bound students. With a highly credentialed staff of dedicated and passionate teachers, a small class size (five or six students on average), and high standards, we provide a challenging intellectual experience. We aim for students to master the subjects and skills required to excel in college. More fundamentally, we hope to inspire students with a love of learning and a desire for excellence.
Since many entering students have fallen behind in school, we work with them closely to place them in appropriate classes and coach them in their difficult subjects. The school has two different coaching methods. On the one hand, seniors serve as academic advisors and tutors to the younger students. On the other hand, each incoming student is assigned to a member of the faculty for guidance in academic planning; and teachers are available for one-on-one work with students who may either be struggling, or need to catch up on lost time, or wish to work at an accelerated pace.
Every semester, JDA offers a well-rounded class schedule, meticulously designed to accommodate each individual student with respect to their subject level mastery, outstanding credits, direct requests, and academic curiosity.
The following are all courses currently being taught this semester:
MATH & SCIENCE
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
- Differential Equations
- Advanced Topics in Chemistry
- US History
- Radical America
- Literary Theory
- Children’s Literature
- Debate & Argumentation
- Modern European Thought
- Literature in Musical Theater
- Modernism & Postmodernism
- Musical Performance
- Studio Art & History
- Cultural Art & Appreciation
- Intermediate French
- Beginning Spanish
- Intermediate Spanish
- Advanced Spanish
- Moral Reasoning
- Health & Wellness
The following is a sampling of courses that have been offered at other times:
- Greek Myth in Contemporary Poetry
- Feminist Fiction
- Spanish Conversation
- French Culture
- Song Writing
- Marine Biology
- Inorganic Chemistry
- American Presidency
- The American West in Film
Mentorship & Growth
Most entering students at Dewey need to develop better study habits, reignite their enthusiasm for learning, and bolster their academic confidence. To mentor them towards academic success, we assign each of them a student advisor and a faculty advisor. These advisors help students to set goals, choose appropriate classes each semester, decide when to get tutoring, and plan strategies for handling their problem areas. All students meet several times a semester with both advisors; the student advisors also meet separately with each member of the faculty every few weeks to make sure that every student is on track for completing the graduation requirements.
Students who have completed the standard sequences of courses in a field may request permission to pursue an independent study. These classes are sometimes directed by our faculty here at the school, sometimes offered by universities online in fields such as Computer Science, and sometimes conducted by tutors in foreign languages such as Chinese or Russian. In order to receive credit, these courses must be supervised and assessed by a faculty member at Dewey.
Sophomores and juniors at Dewey take the PSAT at the school. Juniors and seniors take the SAT or ACT (or both); some seniors also take SAT II examinations in fields in which they are particularly proficient. Students must sign up and prepare for the exam independently.
As part of their transition out of Dewey, seniors who are doing well academically and therapeutically may be encouraged to intern at local businesses in their areas of special interest. Recent internships have included research and writing for The Berkshire Edge, riding along with the EMT team in Great Barrington, and working on a project for the town planning board.
Although students may be found doing academic work anywhere in the Castle at almost any time of the day, we designate weekday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon as mandated quiet study halls. During these times, more advanced students ensure that everyone is engaging in focused work on academics.
Dewey encourages students to express themselves creatively through explorations of various art forms. Although technical skills are usually developed, the teacher supports a free-flowing expression of creative energy. Students may focus their individual work in theater, studio arts, creative writing, music performance, or music production. They may also attend local museums or art shows, poetry readings, concerts, and films.
Click on images to the right to view full size.
In order to fulfill their three required hours of physical exercise a week, students may choose to run, play pick-up basketball games, take a yoga or ballet class, or simply use the gym downstairs. Students train each other on weights and equipment, and an advanced student keeps tracks of students’ gym hours.