The Southwest Open School opened its doors at a Gallery Day on Sept. 7, giving students a chance to demonstrate what they are learning to teachers, parents and peers.
These events are important to SWOS teaching approach, according to school Director Charlotte Wolf
“It is a way to honor and celebrate each other’s achievements because that is also important when we are young, to be recognized for what you have achieved,” Wolf said.
“That is really our philosophy, in a way.”
For students starting at SWOS, Gallery Day was special. Students graduating from the SWOS-ology course were given their certifications onstage after describing what they had learned for the crowd.
“Every new student and staff have to do a SWOS-ology class, the study of SWOS,” Wolf said.
“They learn about effective communication, conflict resolution, relationships, trust building and working with your brain so that you will know how to manage your moods.”
The students graduating from SWOS-ology have gained a better understanding of emotional intelligence and what is important, according to Wolf.
Students at the gallery were given the opportunity to show what they had learned through a portfolio-style presentation.
“We call this a gallery, and we have a couple of learning units among the classes and then semester-long classes,” Wolf said.
“After each one of those, we do a gallery, which is a portfolio approach. The kids assemble a portfolio where they design the project and have a lot of input in how they frame it.”
This process is important because the students must put what they have learned to the test of parents and peers.
“They answer questions and learning outcomes, and then they will present either to a class or in such a format to the parents in a bigger format (like a gallery),” Wolf said.
“There is a lot of emphasis on critical thinking skills and on pushing your boundaries and is very important in the physical, mental and emotional sense.”
Wolf admits that the process is not “fail-safe,” but she believes they are focused on the right things.
SWOS also announced that with an enrollment of 136 students, it’s close to its goal of 144 students.