Campus Corner

Growing Up: 2nd Nature Academy

Nature’s Pathways early childhood center may mark the beginning of children’s journeys here on the TNOT campus, but it doesn’t mark the beginning of founder Debbie Gleeson’s mission. You might be surprised to hear that The Nature of Things started off as a preschool, with the vision of growing from early childhood education to elementary, middle, and high school.

If asked about why she wanted to create her own private school, Debbie will tell you that she just knew there was a better education model out there than what was being offered. She believed that children could be taught in the ways that they naturally learn. Debbie believed that there is no one size fits all for education—there are no square pegs or round holes.

It was with this passionate belief that Debbie started her first preschool class, which grew to pre-kindergarten, and then to kindergarten, and 2nd Nature Academy was born. Before we knew it, we were enrolling in elementary school and, now, in middle school.

2nd Nature Academy proves the merits of inquiry, exploration, and experiential learning, which are at the heart of our curriculum. 2nd Nature takes an innovative approach to learning by addressing real-life issues through an integrated curriculum. Every day, in each classroom, the students are challenged to think critically and creatively, to solve problems, and to work collaboratively. They explore a humane education through hands-on work on the school farm, and altruism through monthly service learning projects. And it’s all supplemented with instruction in the arts and foreign languages (you can learn more about why foreign language instruction is important here). It’s exactly what Debbie had imagined 20 years earlier—a school that breaks down the barriers between subjects makes learning more meaningful, and provides opportunities for deeper understanding. It’s within (and outside of, around here) these walls that students actively participate in their learning and achieve their fullest potential.

Yes, 2ndNature Academy was built into what Debbie dreamed, but it has grown into so much more. This campus is made up of a multifaceted educational community of learners, families, educators, farmers, volunteers, and community members that share in common beliefs, attitudes, and a common commitment to a set of ideals that support sustainability, life-long learning skills, service learning, and humane education.

If you know anything about Debbie Gleeson, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’re not finished growing. We’re so excited for some short-term and long-term goals to be reached.

As of 2018, we will open the doors to our new elementary and middle school building to help sustain the wonderful growth we have been experiencing on campus. Also in the near future, we will be completing our candidacy for accreditation with NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges). We are currently completing the self-study process, during which we are analyzing, self-reflecting, and planning based on NEASC standards. Up next, the peer review!

As for our future, we’re always looking ahead. A high school won’t be too far behind, so we can grow with all of our students. We’re looking forward to adding to our community of learners, and to continue to provide a learning environment that enables students to experience success through our pedagogical goals:

  • To provide a student-centered learning environment that focuses on the whole child
  • To embrace eight intelligence strengths as indicated by Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University
  • To provide the fundamentals of education using inquiry-based learning and multi-sensory instruction
  • To foster an attitude of cultural appreciation
  • To support physical, social, emotional and cognitive well-being
  • To promote values and life skills such as responsibility, punctuality, consideration, understanding, altruism, and compassion
  • To encourage an appreciation of our natural environment
  • To develop an enthusiasm for learning and acquiring new skills

Here’s to being students for life,

The Nature of Things family

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