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New Weber charter school to take ‘holistic approach’

By Becky Wright, Standard-Examiner Staff - | Sep 8, 2014
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Kathy Wood of Ogden, is one of the founders of the proposed GreenWood Charter School, to be built in Harrisville. An open house to discuss school plans will be held 5-7 p.m. Sept. 11, at 725 W. Harrisville Road.

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HARRISVILLE -- Frustrated by the long waiting lists to enroll her son in a charter school, Kathy Wood decided to start her own.

"Our focus is health and wellness, and environmental education," she said, explaining that each charter school has to have a specialty.

The other thing that will set this school apart, said Wood, is a holistic approach to education. "It's about educating the whole child -- holistic, meaning educating the mind, body, and spirit," she said.

Jo Schmitt, administrative secretary for Utah Charter Schools at the Utah State Office of Education, confirmed that the proposal for GreenWood Charter School has been approved.

The plan is to open the new school, for elementary-age children, in the fall of 2015. A bid has been put in on land for the school, at 804 N. Highway 89 in Harrisville.

Wood, and a group of like-minded people, have spent more than a year planning and filing the required paperwork. Now they're ready to involve the community.

The first of three open houses is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11. The meeting will be held in the Harrisville City Cabin, at 725 W. Harrisville Road.

"That's the one that's so important to come to," said Wood, who lives in Ogden. "It's where we'll get into a discussion about 'What do you want it to look like?' so we'll be able to incorporate what you want for your children."

The overall plan is also to include health and wellness features for the community, such as a walking trail.

Additional meetings are scheduled on Sept. 24, and Oct. 23, to show how input given during the first meeting has been incorporated into the plans.

Wood says the school is not named after her -- the name was tossed out by one of the other founders during a brainstorming session.

"I think it stuck so well because it represents nature and sustainability," she said. "Connecting kids back with nature and teaching them where their food comes from and how to live sustainably is something we are passionate about."

Wood and the other board members are trying to purchase 12 acres of land.

"We only need four or five acres for the school," she said, which leaves plenty of room for growing healthy foods. "We could do a miniature farm, or at minimum a school garden. Kids will go out and learn about seeds, plant a garden, and care for the garden. When they come back in the fall, they can harvest what they planted."

That's important, because one of the goals of the school is to incorporate Dr. Carey D. Lloyd's "Prescription for Health." Lloyd, a pediatrician in Pleasant View, promotes the "5-4-3-2-1-Almost None" plan, which stresses five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily, four positive comments a day, three structured meals daily, two or less hours of television or video games, one hour or more of moderate to vigorous activity each day, and almost no sugar-sweetened drinks.

"A lot of research shows that if kids are involved with the production of their own food, they're more likely to eat it," Wood said.

To get kids moving, there will be plenty of activity built into the day.

"Part of the Expeditionary Learning model is to keep them moving, and we want that to be part of the culture of the school," she said.

Instead of always learning at their desks, the plan is to have students spending 50 percent of their day learning by incorporating movement, or going outside for field trips.

"If they're learning about frogs, they will go out and actually maybe to the Nature Center and examine frogs hands-on," said Wood.

The model also calls for more collaboration and projects, and for teachers serving as mentors as students take on the task of asking questions and solving problems.

To help students learn about environmental stewardship, school plans call for the use of solar power, and student involvement in recycling plans

Wood says the board has already hired Jessie Kidd, of North Ogden, as the school director. According to Wood, Kidd has a master's degree in education, and previously served as executive director of DaVinci Academy.

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or bwright@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright.


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