The Cambridge School of Weston

The Cambridge School of Weston | Calhoun School | Putney School | Unquowa School

T he Cambridge School of Weston, in partnership with the Calhoun, Putney, and Unquowa Schools, plans to create a visionary teacher education program that would place prospective educators at the heart of their practice. Funding from the Edward E. Foundation, and the matching funds we plan to raise, will enable us to plan and implement the Progressive Education Lab (PEL), a two-year fellowship that provides aspiring teachers with the opportunity to learn the craft through dynamic, experienced-based training not found at traditional university-based teacher education programs. Through PEL, fellows would earn a teaching degree from a partnering college or university, but their training would take place within our schools. They would learn in a laboratory-like setting, carefully mentored and supported by committed, veteran educators, with the eventual goal of finding permanent teaching placement at one of the PEL schools or at another progressive school.

Our unique collaboration brings four very different schools together: two day, two boarding; two city-based, two rurally-based; and upper and elementary school divisions. Each school will provide PEL teaching fellows with exposure to certain kinds of learning and teaching. For example, fellows may learn about project-based learning at Putney, integrated studies at CSW, the city as school at Calhoun, museum collaboration at Unquowa. At the end of the two years, successful PEL fellows will have developed a clear understanding of what it means to teach in a progressive setting and will be assisted in finding teaching placement at one of our schools or at another progressive school.

By training young teachers specifically within a community of progressive educators, we believe we improve the chances that they will succeed and that they remain teachers, both in heart and practice, for years to come. Progressive schools offer ideal environments in which to train skillful teachers. They demand deep subject-matter knowledge, as well as creative child-centered and inquiry-based pedagogy. They also require an enduring understanding of how children learn and develop the ability to connect school to the community, and stamina. Indeed, we are confident that collaborating on a program will strengthen each of our schools and provide a model for others to follow.