The Evergreen Alternative School brochure boasts of student choice of curriculum, active and required parent involvement, emphasis on self discipline and responsibility, written contracts defining academic and behavioral goals and requirements, and an atmosphere of genuine caring and respect. Certainly such an educational environment sounds ideal, but I questioned whether a school could really deliver an education that measured up to such powerful advertisement.
Thus began my inquiry into the nature of the program at Evergreen, the philosophical foundations upon which it rests, and the translation of these philosophies into policy and procedure. My inquiry found focus in four initial research questions: In what way is Evergreen alternative? What are Evergreen's stated philosophies and policies regarding student learning and behavior? How are these philosophies and policies evidenced and executed within the school and classroom at Evergreen? and of the policies that define the Evergreen program, which of these seem particularly key in creating an exceptional learning environment?
In the paper which follows, I review the literature surrounding alternative schools, and eleven documents which serve to describe and define the Evergreen School in order to identify the ways in which Evergreen is alternative. I review also the work of John and Evelyn Dewey and of Goodwin Watson, wherein lie the roots of Evergreen's educational philosophies. Section II includes descriptions of the school and observational data pertinent to this study. Section III includes a summary of the philosophical foundations upon which the program at Evergreen rests and an analysis of the translation of philosophies into policy, and policy into procedure. Section III includes, also, concluding remarks and a summary of those elements of the program which appear to have the greatest importance and significance and which contribute most to the exceptionality of this learning environment.
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