The Tremont School
Creating progressive school communities teeming with diversity, curiosity, and joy that nurture an individual’s social, emotional, and academic development.
About Your Organization
The Collaborative Learning Project/Tremont School
United States, MA, Natick, Middlesex County
Country where this project is creating social impact
United States, MA, Middlesex County
Is your organization a
Non‐profit / NGO / Citizen sector organization
Your role in Education
The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with
How long has your organization been operating?
The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long has your solution been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
In this country, our children's social and emotional intelligence and well-being have been sacrificed in a well-meaning but inherently flawed effort to improve public education exclusively through quantitative testing results and measurable data. Anxiety, bullying, drop-out rates, college-readiness skills, and the need for special education services have risen dramatically in the past 10 years since the enactment of No Child Left Behind. Our official education policy has embraced content over the development of higher-order thinking skills such as critical thinking, executive function, collaborative problem solving, and has all but ignored higher level feeling skills such as emotional regulation, relatedness, community building, empathy, moral development, and character education.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
The solution is to develop project-based, highly personalized educational models that focus on developing 21st century skills with a deliberately diverse student population. The Tremont School takes a wide variety of students and addresses their social, emotional, and academic needs by engaging in hands-on learning that supports the intrinsic understanding of the academic material while promoting relatedness and empathy through a social curriculum that spans the entire school day from classroom to lunchroom to gym class. The academic curriculum is customized around the students' individual learning styles and interests, so they can learn from each other in a dynamic and engaging academic community reflecting the society at large they will graduate into. The social/emotional curriculum is embedded into every academic activity and the very culture of the school. And we achieve these results with a student community that includes children with special needs including autism and ADHD.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
A student who has been removed from school and home-schooled because of bullying comes to the Tremont School for his first day and finds that another student--through no prompting from a teacher--has put a note in his locker welcoming him to school. He sits in the morning meeting to preview the days work and meet his classmates before breaking into an all-school community skills class where they are learning about reading non-verbal social cues in a group setting. Following a quick meeting with a teacher around the students contract for that week, he heads off to find his partner on the musical they are writing together. Gym class comes next where they are playing cooperative games led by the student captain chosen for that week. During lunch, teachers sit with students outside to share ideas about current events. The afternoon is spent as a group building a shelter in the woods that can survive the sustained winds of a storm coming in a few days, which has been tracked and rated by another group of students interested in meteorology. After school a group of students meet for group activities that they have planned and organized themselves with the support of parent volunteers. One group is knitting scarves for the upcoming school fundraiser while another is making coloring books for one parent who is a surgeon to deliver to pediatric patients on his trip to Colombia to work on cleft palates. This is a real-life example of a day at Tremont School where kids constantly feel connected to themselves, their community, and their academics in a comprehensive way.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
The marketplace for our services is massive and includes essentially every school-age child in the United States. Our direct competitors are the same as our peers--public schools as well as more traditional private/parochial schools. As a non-profit organization with a mission to develop private schools, charter schools, as well as whole-child curriculum for public schools, our closest competition is also our closest potential partners. Where there is a need in the marketplace for a school like the Tremont School, we can build a private school or charter school. If the community has an existing school that could achieve our mission through consulting, curriculum or other types of support, we can provide that expertise and fulfill our mission in partnership with those existing schools.
Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
A hands-on project-based curriculum that equally values social, emotional, and academic learning among a diverse community of scholars.
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]
A philosophy that treats parents, teachers, and students as collaborators in the singular and collective achievement of each scholar.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
In only our first year we have fundamentally changed the lives of our students and families. Early parent survey results from Year One demonstrate that our students are happier, more connected to each other, more interested in their school work, and more successful at home as a result of joining the School. Parents report drastic improvements in their attitude toward school work, friendships, and their skills at problem solving. Academically, our students are more actively engaged in their work than at their previous school as a result of our unique curriculum. We have independently measured time on task at the school and found that students are averaging 80 percent time-on-task. Parents report that their children are working at home independently and reading on their own more than at their previous schools. All of our families are returning next year, and several are registering siblings for next year. Students report that they enjoy school more, both socially and academically.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
To increase the number of families served by the Tremont School pilot to 125; to identify a market for developing the first public charter school using the Tremont School model to serve 150 children; to publish a white paper on how public schools can measure social and emotional development and learning within the context of No Child Left Behind; and to develop a coalition model of schools that will replicate and grow the network of Collaborative Learning Project Schools. Finally, we plan on creating leadership and summer institutes where educators, parents, students, and service providers can come and learn about how to implement a more comprehensive approach to education that weaves social and emotional learning across all aspects of school to create a culture of support and caring.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
The primary barrier to success is financial sustainability. Tuition dollars, philanthropy, and government support for charter schools could be affected by the economy, politics, and a host of other reasons beyond our control. For the Tremont School, developing a program that is truly inclusive means finding parents who's children aren't in crisis but who see the value in our project-based curriculum that focuses on 21st century skills. Early adopters are often those families who have experienced previous failure. We need to develop a program who's success in reaching and teaching ALL children creates a school and community environment that reflects our society as a whole. Inclusive education requires a broad-based community of students, which is a challenging recruiting environment.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
To double enrollment within the next 6 months, and increase from 75 to 150 the number of potential family visits for next year.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Develop a marketing plan to target families with siblings
Create a scholarship fund for low-income families
Raise funds to hire a marketing/development director
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
To Initiate our first charter school and create the Collaborative Learning Project coalition model.
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Identify a charter school leader in our chosen district
Fund/hire the executive director position
Create the Collaborative Learning Project Coalition model
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]
In 2008, three families shared a dream: to create an alternative independent day school where all of their children could learn and thrive, together. What made this dream unique was the fact that each of the families had at least one child on the autism spectrum.
Inspired by the goal to deeply engage its students socially and emotionally as well as academically, the three families reached out to a group of parents, educators, child advocates, and community leaders who shared their interested in building a new kind of inclusive school. The Collaborative Learning Project was formed in April of 2008, and received its tax-exempt status in August of 2009.
Plans soon emerged for a middle school that would accept both children with autism and their “typical” peers, to create a dynamic and unique learning community where ALL students would be heard, respected, cared for, and supported in an engaging and non-judgmental environment.
The Tremont School opened in September of 2011.
Tell us about your partnerships
We have developed several deep partnerships with local agencies. Three examples include our partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital's Think:Kids program which provides training and support for Collaborative Problem Solving among the students and faculty. Another MGH program, Youthcare, provides technical support for developing innovative social curriculum and individual coaching and support to students. The FUSE program provides physical education training for kids with an embedded social curriculum. Other partnerships include sensory integration, OT, and executive function support.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]
Our team already includes 4 teachers, an academic director, and an unpaid, full-time president of the board. In order to achieve our growth milestones we will need to hire a marketing/development director, a charter school founder as well as an executive director within the next two years. We will also need to hire additional teachers as the Tremont School grows in order to keep the student-teacher ratio at approximately 6-1. We have developed a board and volunteer team of over 30 people and we will continue to provide resources for staff and volunteer development.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
Non-profit organizations need to be engaged in everything all the time, constantly evaluating what it needs to grow and what it can provide to others in support of the sector. At its best, a non-profit is both a sponge for resources as well as a fire hose of support for its community of stakeholders. Connecting with others in an exchange of time, talent, and treasure is why I do this work.