Frequently Asked Questions
Where will you be located?
We are still in the start-up stages of the school, and are looking for a location in the Springfield/Lorton/Fairfax Station/Clifton areas of Fairfax County (basically around 7:30 on the beltway if you look at it like a clock).
What will the tuition be?
Tuition is also to be determined based on rental, administrative, and staff costs, but most likely in the $8,000-$10,000 range, substantially less than the average private school tuition in the area.
When will you open?
Our goal is to open in the fall of 2017, but we may have to start as a Sudbury-style homeschool group instead of an official private school if we cannot file the proper county paperwork in time
How will you choose staff?
We are looking for staff who have successful experience working with children and teens, but are not necessarily traditional school teachers. Staff need to be well-versed in the Sudbury Educational Philosophy and enjoy working with and the company of children and young adults.. We are looking for role-models and mentors with varied areas of expertise, for instance, since my (Catina's) strengths are in music, the humanities, Minecraft, and nature, we are looking for other staff to be strong in math, computer engineering, physics, sports, art, cooking, chemistry, languages, etc. We need to build a well-balanced team so that the students not only have interesting adult role-models, but also a variety of staff to ask for help, guidance, or simply just talk to. All staff must pass background checks and will be epi-pen, child CPR, and first-aid certified. Staff are voted on by the Student Meeting, which will vote on whether or not to hire them again for the next year at the end of every school year. The School Meeting can also hire or fire an employee at any time. This is another way in which staff are different from school teachers who are revered as authorities with considerable job security. Staff will also need to be able to run the school. They will be required to perform administrative duties such accounting, advertising, enrollment, and more as well. Please visit this Hudson Valley Sudbury School blog post to learn more about Sudbury School staff.
What is the role of staff?
The South Jersey Sudbury School describes the role of staff as: " At the request of the students, staff members may teach lessons or workshops and provide tutoring services. The teaching style and attitude of the instruction will be catered to the students' desires. A staff member's main job is to be a resource for the students and to make sure the school is running appropriately, properly, and legally. Staff members are required to take on a considerable amount of other responsibilities, such as specializing in certain types of knowledge the students are interested in, generally studying to be better role models, and working independently to improve the school."
Staff also help the students access resources, find apprenticeships or internships, organize field trips, and bring in other experts as proposed and voted on by the students in the Student Meeting. Please visit the South Jersey Sudbury School FAQ for more information about staff and student roles.
What about resources? How will you attract students if the school doesn't have any yet?
This is one of my favorite questions. The first group of students at the Jefferson Sudbury School are in a wonderfully unique position. Working together with staff on the budget, they will be able to propose and vote on the very first resources and equipment to outfit the school at the Student Meetings. Think of the first year as a blank canvas that your child helps to paint with what he or she wants to see for the future of his/her school and community. Not many young people get an opportunity like this!
Will the school have a part-time option?
Jefferson Sudbury School will be a full-time school. In order to build strong community and keep the school functioning as a participatory democracy, students need to commit to a full time schedule. Also, Virginia law requires a set amount of hours that the students be present in order for Jefferson Sudbury School to be an official private school.
What are the roles of parents?
Parents can have a role at Jefferson Sudbury School if they choose, but in order to maintain student autonomy, parental roles will consist of help with fund-raising, chaperoning field trips,, and volunteering in other capacities such as building and grounds maintenance, community outreach, and administrative help. There will be parent-staff conferences and social functions such as back to school night and end of school year gatherings. There will be scheduled newsletters for parents to share with family and friends, and even the possibility of veteran parents mentoring new parents. The Sudbury model is a big change of educational philosophy for many families, and the while staff at the Jefferson Sudbury School will continue to reach out to the community to explain the model, veteran parents can be our best spokespeople.
How will enrollment work?
Parents (and students if they are old enough), will be required to read Peter Gray's book Free to Learn, AND one of the other books listed in the resource section of this website by Daniel Greenberg. After reading one of the books and discussing with your child whether or not he or she wants to attend Jefferson Sudbury School, please contact us to set up an interview. There will be a $35 interview fee. After the interview, if all parties agree that Jefferson Sudbury School is the right school for your child, you can enroll.
Will JSS have STEM classes?
There are no official classes. If students would like to work on STEM they are free to pursue knowledge as they see fit. At Sudbury Schools, students are free to learn whatever, whenever, and however they wish. If they would like help, they can ask staff members and other students. If they want more, such as a class that a staff member cannot teach or special equipment, they can write up a proposal with a budget, including how they intend to raise the money for it, and present it to the student meeting for a vote. Many times students ban together to create corporations so that they have more people working together to reach a goal. A possible way students can raise money is by selling food, either packaged or homemade, and/or crafts at the school to other students and staff.
In the last year of Sudbury school will you give out some kind of credible diploma, like normal high schools?
There is a diploma, but the process of obtaining one is different than traditional schools. Students will need to write and defend a dissertation about what they have learned while at school and how they are prepared to enter life after the school. They will speak before the school meeting who will be joined by one or two guest staff members from other Sudbury Schools. The Student Meeting will vote on whether or not the student will receive a diploma. Since Sudbury Schools do not test, grade or otherwise rank their students, Jefferson Sudbury School will not be accredited,; therefore the diploma will not be from an accredited school. Students also have the option of leaving the school without a diploma.
What kind of information will the school provide to colleges when I apply?
Sudbury Schools require an enormous amount of personal (as well as community) responsibility from students, and this includes applying to college (if they so choose). If a student chooses to pursue a diploma, he or she will have that to submit to colleges. Many Sudbury graduates take the SATs and/or ACTs, create portfolios, provide recommendation letters, and rely heavily on their college interviews. They have a high success rate of acceptance into colleges of their choice because they stand out from other applicants by the uniqueness of their educations. They also have strong speaking and persuasion skills from all of the practice they get at Student and Judiciary Committee Meetings while at school.