Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Sudbury school?
A Sudbury school is a student-run, student-centered learning environment. Students are given a great deal of responsibility for running the school as well as over their individual pursuits. They act as officers responsible for running school meetings, creating and executing school rules, dealing with student behavior, and more. Staff act as mentors or advisers who help provide support and help to solve problems. Sudbury schools are ideal for any student or families interested in cultivating truly happy, confident, self-directed young adults. To see a detailed video about the Sudbury School model, borrowed from the Hudson Valley Sudbury School, click here.
What does a typical day at Fort Worth Sudbury look like?
There really is no typical day at Fort Worth Sudbury. We do have a general flow - all students arrive by 10:00 for our morning "Pop In" where we discuss events for the day or any important news for the entire school community. At 1:00 we have "School Meeting" or "Kid Court" (Judicial Committee). The rest is up to the individual student. For a younger student, it may look like a lot of exuberant play, social skills development, and time for free exploration with some staff or peer-led classes or activities that have been requested by the students. Sometimes our middle/high school aged students like to have a schedule of activities and classes that meet each week (such as Book Club, Mythology, Theater, Dance, Science, etc), but often they enjoy the flexibility to pursue their own interests. However, the schedule is always flexible and always changing. If a class is a flop, they take it off the schedule and try something different. If they think another project or activity is more important at that moment than a particular class, they will work on that instead. There is no requirement that a student attend all or any of the activities provided, so students may spend days working on an art project, practicing for a recital, or reading a really good book. We also take frequent field trips off campus or to local parks, so those days look different as well.
What happens at school meetings?
School Meeting takes place once per week. This is where students and staff make big decisions for the school. Rules are proposed, debated, and created at School Meeting. Staff decisions and the ways we spend our money are also approved at School Meeting. We also have "Pop-In" which is daily and goes through the schedule for the day, upcoming events, general check ins and compliments.
What type of behavior plan do you use?
The way that we deal with student behavior is through our School Law Book and Judicial Committee. Rules are created by School Meeting and executed by the entire student body. If a student is breaking a rule or intentionally harming/harassing another student, a staff or student will write a complaint. The complaint is taken to Kid Court (Judicial Committee) where students and a staff member hear the case, determine if a rule was broken, and what the consequence would be. We try to stick to consequences that relate to the behavior. For example: A student who leaves out trash might have to do an extra chore for the day.
Will my child be safe?
Many parents have expressed that they feel their kids are safer in our school than in other environments. Our student body has a low tolerance for perceived bullying and a high acceptance of other students. While interpersonal conflicts are always going to arise, the day-to-day stresses of being in many traditional school settings is not there. Students are also responsible for each other. Instead of letting another student get hurt, make a bad choice, break a rule, etc they will intervene or get a staff member for help. However, we do encourage our students to play, climb, run, jump, skip, and scramble as much as they want. Bumps, bruises, and skinned knees are definitely possible.
If you don’t have mandatory classes, how will students get exposed to new things?
Children are naturally curious. They are constantly wondering about their world and having conversations with other students. These conversations and interactions lead to student-directed research, reading, and more conversations. At school the student has access to a variety of resources. They have the ability to ask the school to purchase or acquire resources on a specific topic. They have student and staff-led classes and activities, and access to adults who can help them solve problems and find information. Exposure and learning is happening all of the time, but it is just not based on a curriculum or set of standards written by an adult.
What if a student wants to learn something you can’t provide?
In our global and connected world, there is very little you can't learn with access to the internet. However, if students are interested in acquiring certain supplies, materials, or staff resources to learn a specific topic, they can petition School Meeting to make that happen. For example, if a student wanted to learn the Japanese language and we did not have resources, they could petition for a consulting teacher to come teach a formal class, ask to buy a particular software for learning the language, start a class/club to increase interest and demonstrate a need for the class, or hire a new staff member with that speciality. In a traditional setting, students feel limited by the options given to them by the school. Here, the only limits are on themselves.
I understand Fort Worth Sudbury has only been open for three school years. However, do you have information on similar schools and the outcomes of their students after leaving school? What are the college rates?
As we are just a fledgling school, we do not yet have our own statistics. But, Sudbury Valley having been around for five decades, has released studies about their outcomes. 82% enroll in college, 42% become entrepreneurs, some leave Sudbury Valley and go straight into the arts or other careers. Here is an article about Sudbury Valley by Psychology Today. One thing to point out is that we are not a college prep or even college focused. We believe that every student has their own path and passion to follow. If a student wants to prepare (through AP courses and SAT tests) to enroll in college post-graduation, we will help them do it. If a student wants to go to community college to wet their feet and decide if higher education is for them, we will be there to help them out. Or if a student wants to start selling work, doing performance art, go to a trade school, start a business, or jump into the workforce, we will support their decision.
If college is the focus, there is no better way to receive that acceptance letter than to prove to a college that you really want to be there and that you have demonstrated the ability to take responsibility for your education. Sudbury schools require that students drive the ship, instead of adults. A child particularly gifted in the arts, can focus their time on preparing portfolios or practicing for auditions. A child gifted in science can design their own experiments, do their own independent research, find an internship in a lab, and start solving one of the world’s problems. A child that wants to go to college can study for the SAT’s, take AP tests, write their own admission essays, and select colleges that are catered toward their learning desires instead of the other way around. See the following links on Best Colleges for Non-Traditional Students and Colleges without Letter Grades. Your child’s path will probably not be traditional, or even necessarily as ‘easy’ as someone going through a traditional program. Ultimately, though, they are going to have a lot more to offer, a greater diversity of experiences to stand out from the crowd, and a clearer understanding of if and why they want to attend a university.
How do students get into college?
Colleges are increasingly accepting and seeking out students from a diverse set of backgrounds. As a private school in Texas, we are allowed to set our own curriculum and our own standards. Students graduating from our school are compared with similarly aged peers from other public, private, and homeschool situations. They will need to take entrance exams, write essays, and apply just as any other student was. The only difference will be that we will send a letter explaining our school and activities the student has participate in, in lieu of a transcript.
Do you offer diplomas?
After a student completes the graduation requirements, they may submit for an Fort Worth Sudbury diploma. Students must complete a minimum of two years at our school, an internship, and a graduation defense to a panel of adults. If their defense is accepted, they will graduate that May.
What do the teachers do?
At our school, we call the adult support members either 'Staff' or 'Mentors'. Staff at Fort Worth Sudbury School perform a diverse set of roles from teaching classes, leading activities, supervising play, listening to students, guiding inquiry, cleaning bathrooms, responding to e-mail requests, mediating student-to-student issues, leading field trips, managing mischief, coordinating chaos, and otherwise serving in any way the kids need.
Is this a religious school?
Absolutely not. Though we may be housed in a religious building, we have a rental relationship. We have students from different religious and non-religious backgrounds at our school and love the diversity of opinions that brings.
Do you offer a part time option?
We believe that the school is a better place when students are here. That being said, there is a 20 hour per week minimum requirement and an arrival time by 10:00. Students could potentially do three long days a week and meet this requirement or come five days a week for shorter intervals. We encourage families to do what works best for them. All students must all meet the attendance requirement.
Is this school equipped to deal with special needs students?
Our school does not provide any specialized services for students with special needs. However, that does not mean those students are unwelcome. You will just not see the standard protocol of a traditional school in play; i.e. behavior plans, ARDS, 504 meetings, OT, PT, etc. We also do not have staff dedicated as aids for specific students. If your child needs specific services or counseling, they will have to receive those services outside of our current staff. However, we have found that most students are capable of finding happiness and success within this environment. We do not believe that students are ever 'behind' or 'not succeeding'. Because how can anyone be behind in their own life? Each child is an individual, with individual gifts, talents, and weaknesses. We aim to foster an environment that encourages students to embrace themselves, just as they are, and build a life that makes them happy. With that pressure gone, students are given the freedom to find their own way, and do.
What if my child plays on electronic devices all day?
Great! That means they spent the day learning technology, problem solving, diving into personal interests, using fine motor skills, building relationships with other kids, or utilizing appropriate self-soothing tools because they felt overstimulated. That isn't a popular answer, but we find that kids can typically make good choices about technology usage when the intense pressures and anxieties of traditional school are gone and they are given an environment of positive stimulation and activities. At our school we find that once students transition, they don't honestly spend a lot of time on their personal devices. There are too many games to play, activities to do, or adventures to go on to sit down all day long. See the article written by Dr. Peter Gray from Psychology Today here.
How do you know they are learning anything if they do not get tested?
Children are always learning. A test just determines if they are learning what the state/curriculum creator/teacher deems important. We suggest that parents ask their kids what they have done in a day, what risks they took, their biggest challenges, and what they want to know more about. We also provide parents with pictures and examples of what is going on during the normal day through an online app.
What is the enrollment process?
Families and students that are interested in our school should set up an interview and a tour. From there, they will fill out our registration paperwork, pay the $100 registration fee, and participate in a trial week. After the trial week, if a student is still interested in our school and decides to stay, School Meeting will vote them in as a formal student member and parents will pay the remaining of the month's tuition.
How much is tuition?
For each family there is a $400 monthly enrollment fee, and a $100 per child monthly student fee. For a family with one student enrolled tuition would be $500 per month, a family with two students would pay $600 and so on. However, Fort Worth Sudbury relies on volunteers and tuition may be offset by hours volunteered by parents/guardians in service of the school and students. Tuition is reduced at a rate of $7.25 per hour volunteered. For example, annual tuition for a single student based on monthly volunteer hours are as follows;
- Hours volunteered per month: 0 Annual tuition: $5,000 ($500/mo x 10 months)
- Hours volunteered per month: 16 Annual tuition: $3,840 ($384/mo x 10 months)
- Hours volunteered per month: 32 Annual tuition: $2,680 ($268/mo x 10 months)
- Hours volunteered per month: 64 Annual tuition: $360 ($36/mo x 10 months)
What types of volunteer jobs are there?
In addition to working with students during the school day, volunteer hours may also be completed by performing maintenance, administrative, marketing, and other tasks in support of the school. These may be done during business hours, on-campus, or at your convenience off-campus. Volunteer hours must be approved one week prior. Background checks are required for all volunteers prior to working directly with students.