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Jennifer Finn

Jennifer Finn

Court House, United States

HundrED lähettiläs

Jenny is the Head of School at Springhouse Community School in Floyd, Virginia where they are reimagining the purpose and practice of education by fostering the holistic development of youth, young adults, and adults.

About me

Jenny holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education from Prescott College and a master’s degree in Social Work from Colorado State University. Jenny is one of the co-founders of Springhouse Community School in the United States and is deeply committed to serving the vision and mission of the school. She understands that relationship to the world around us begins with the connection we have to ourselves, and Jenny's work, in all its forms, fosters this deeper connection. To live in relationship with ourselves and with the world, it is essential that we learn creative and courageous ways to traverse the landscape within. In a culture that often fosters separation and disconnection, Springhouse offers ways to connect to teens, young adults, and adults. Jenny’s research, mentoring, and teaching foster greater intimacy with all of life by exploring creative and courageous ways to face discomfort and navigate vulnerability. She has worked in the healing arts field for over twenty years serving in various areas including non-profit management, trauma and hospice care, spiritual care and chaplaincy, clinical private practice, and education. She is so excited to continue to be in greater service to the important mission of connection and relationship building at Springhouse Community School.

Why do you want to be a part of the HundrED Community?

We are a small innovative learning community in rural Virginia in the United States. We are part of several education reform networks, and in HundrED, we would learn, and also have insight to share from our experience, in this global community!

How can education support students to flourish?

The mission of Springhouse Community School is to reimagine the purpose and practice of education. Though we are creative and innovative in our educational approach, the way Springhouse structures learning is ancient and has been practiced in cultures around the world for ages. Dr. Greg Cajete, author of Look to the Mountain: An Ecological Perspective on Education, lists the following as characteristics of indigenous education, or in other words, an educational paradigm that is place- and community-based and orients around sustainability and wholeness. Cajete writes, “Education is in crisis as America finds itself faced with unprecedented challenges in a global community of nations desperately struggling with massive social, economic, and cultural change. Education must find new ways of helping Americans learn and adapt in a multicultural, twenty-first century world. It must come to terms with the conditioning inherent in its educational systems that contribute to the loss of a shared integrative metaphor of Life. This loss, which may ultimately lead to a social/cultural/ecological catastrophe, should be a key concern of every American.” Springhouse Community School is concerned, and, as a response to this challenge, we are committed to revisioning the purpose and practice of education in a way that is holistic, intergenerational, and organic.

In his book Sustainable Education: Re-visioning Learning and Change, Stephen Sterling breaks down the way we educate into two processes: transmissive and transformative. He associates transmissive education with being instructive and imposed and asserts that this is the primary form by which we educate today. With this approach, we try to "get the message across," where the teacher is more of an “expert” leading students in a hierarchical way. Transformative education engages learning as a place to explore a sense of meaning and purpose. Stephen Glazer, author of The Heart of Learning: Spirituality in Education, writes, “Education can serve as the core of a lifelong journey towards wholeness, rather than merely an accumulation of facts, figures or skills.” To move from transmissive to transformative education, we must move towards a learning process that is constructive and participative in nature. Education, in this form, is capacity-building, process-oriented, and respectful of all living systems. Dr. Greg Cajete writes, “To begin such a process, American education must move from a focus on specialization to holistic knowledge; from a focus on structures to understanding processes, from objective science, to systemic science, and from building to networking." Transformation is at the center of the Springhouse educational approach and our learning community is dedicated to a model of education that honors our connection to each other and supports the whole of life.

What role does innovation play in education change?

Emergent learning refers to education that is responsive rather than prescribed or predetermined. According to Elizabeth Jones, co-author of Emergent Curriculum, in her NAEYC article entitled “The Emergence of Emergent Curriculum,” this approach taps into student interests and “focuses on the process of learning” rather than meeting specific standards of content knowledge. Springhouse values emergent learning and structures curriculum in a way that allows for it to occur.

In his doctoral dissertation, “Emergent Learning: Three Learning Communities as Complex Adaptive Systems,” Dr. John P. Sullivan claims that truly emergent learning occurs when there is a balance between boundaries, nonlinearity, and collaboration, and the structure of these three factors varies depending on the group of learners. In these environments, the teacher becomes a facilitator or guide for learning, intently observing student interests and needs and, in response, shaping curriculum and subsequent learning experiences. This emergence ensures that no project or exploration occurs in the same way twice. At Springhouse, a student’s mentor is an important agent in this process, working closely with both student and faculty to ensure that learning experiences both empower the student and appropriately challenge them.  

Even though emergent curriculums are commonplace in many early childhood and elementary settings, the literature that applies this type of learning to adolescents is scant. Here at Springhouse, we are dedicated to reimagining the practice of education, which includes the ways in which we structure learning in secondary schools. Since emergent learning is a well-researched educational pedagogy for young children but not for older youth, Springhouse is charting new territory by offering adolescents an emergent learning environment that is structured to allow for spontaneity, curiosity, and freedom.

Three HundrED innovations you love. (and Why?)

Three HundrED innovations I love and would like highlight include:

Springhouse Community School- To learn more visit www.springhousecommunityschool.org.

Springhouse takes a place-based, intergenerational approach to learning. We understand that growing up requires a solid educational framework as well as the participation of the entire community. The Springhouse 7th-12th grade program facilitates the holistic development of our students. Our graduation requirements equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to navigate their lives and succeed in a rapidly changing world. Students work toward exemplary demonstration of the competencies, and earn credits in the major academic disciplines through the Six Fields of Study, which are outlined below. Students learn in a variety of ways in these programs, primarily by engaging in the Four Core Practices: learning by doing, mentoring, community collaborations, and embodied living. The result is a dynamic learning environment that strives to balance structure and freedom. 

Community members play an important role in an adolescent’s development. As a teenager leaves childhood and enters adolescence, they need support from adults in the community who are not their parents. Springhouse offers young adult and adult programming that supports adults in their personal development in the following ways: by giving them a framework for psycho-spiritual development that includes what adolescents need from their parents and community members, by providing adults with the opportunity to know themselves more deeply through celebrating their strengths and facing their areas of growth, and, finally, by giving adults the opportunity to be of service and grow together in community.

THE FOUR PRACTICES

Learning By Doing

We believes that there is more to learning than reading from a textbook, absorbing content, and taking tests. Rather, we see the necessity of real-world, relevant learning experiences that fully engage learners. “Learning by doing,” a foundational practice at Springhouse, cannot be narrowed down to one particular experience. Often referred to as experiential or experienced-based learning, this approach to education can take various forms, such as collaboratively designing and building a garden gate for a local community organization, working through difficulty by walking 48 miles from Floyd to Roanoke, VA, or learning about massage therapy through an apprenticeship with a local masseuse.


Mentoring 

A mentor is a wise and trusted guide who assists the student with their learning by sharing their experiences with them. Every learner is paired with a mentor to address academic progress and to foster holistic development. In this relationship, learners are engaged in an intentional process of growth and maturation. The mentor ensures that the learner is receiving the academic, emotional, and social support they need to live into their potential. Mentors also walk with learners as they celebrate and mark developmental thresholds on their journey. 


Community Collaborations

We collaborate with our community to provide students with real-world projects and to create opportunities for student-driven service-learning. Healthy adolescent development requires that students engage in experiences outside of the school walls by working with their community to explore their gifts, challenge themselves, and be of service. For our Community Internship Program, each student spends at least one day a week interning with a local organization. Students design internship projects that both contribute something of value to partner organizations and teaches them new skills. Springhouse students practice their leadership skills as they creatively engage in long-term service projects for our community as a part of our DIscovery Learning program.   


Embodied Living

Embodied living includes practices and activities that encourage learners to access the wisdom of their bodies. At Springhouse, we engage these practices to cultivate a relational sense of belonging within oneself, the community, and with the Earth. We integrate movement practices like dance and yoga into the curriculum, as well as field trips, outdoor activities, art projects, and other modes of observing, exploring, and engaging with the body and the natural world. Embodied living practices empower learners by fostering resiliency, confidence, self-awareness, and belonging.


Education Reimagined: http://education-reimagined.org

Education Reimagined is a network of school in the US reimagining what education looks like in the US. 

And the Mastery Transcript Consortium: https://mastery.org/

This organization is reimagining the college transcript and piloting a new transcript this coming year. 


Three innovations you would love for HundrED to know about. (and Why?)

Three HundrED innovations I love and would like highlight include:

Springhouse Community School- To learn more visit www.springhousecommunityschool.org.

Springhouse takes a place-based, intergenerational approach to learning. We understand that growing up requires a solid educational framework as well as the participation of the entire community. The Springhouse 7th-12th grade program facilitates the holistic development of our students. Our graduation requirements equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to navigate their lives and succeed in a rapidly changing world. Students work toward exemplary demonstration of the competencies, and earn credits in the major academic disciplines through the Six Fields of Study, which are outlined below. Students learn in a variety of ways in these programs, primarily by engaging in the Four Core Practices: learning by doing, mentoring, community collaborations, and embodied living. The result is a dynamic learning environment that strives to balance structure and freedom. 


Community members play an important role in an adolescent’s development. As a teenager leaves childhood and enters adolescence, they need support from adults in the community who are not their parents. Springhouse offers young adult and adult programming that supports adults in their personal development in the following ways: by giving them a framework for psycho-spiritual development that includes what adolescents need from their parents and community members, by providing adults with the opportunity to know themselves more deeply through celebrating their strengths and facing their areas of growth, and, finally, by giving adults the opportunity to be of service and grow together in community.


THE FOUR PRACTICES


Learning By Doing


We believes that there is more to learning than reading from a textbook, absorbing content, and taking tests. Rather, we see the necessity of real-world, relevant learning experiences that fully engage learners. “Learning by doing,” a foundational practice at Springhouse, cannot be narrowed down to one particular experience. Often referred to as experiential or experienced-based learning, this approach to education can take various forms, such as collaboratively designing and building a garden gate for a local community organization, working through difficulty by walking 48 miles from Floyd to Roanoke, VA, or learning about massage therapy through an apprenticeship with a local masseuse.



Mentoring 


A mentor is a wise and trusted guide who assists the student with their learning by sharing their experiences with them. Every learner is paired with a mentor to address academic progress and to foster holistic development. In this relationship, learners are engaged in an intentional process of growth and maturation. The mentor ensures that the learner is receiving the academic, emotional, and social support they need to live into their potential. Mentors also walk with learners as they celebrate and mark developmental thresholds on their journey. 



Community Collaborations


We collaborate with our community to provide students with real-world projects and to create opportunities for student-driven service-learning. Healthy adolescent development requires that students engage in experiences outside of the school walls by working with their community to explore their gifts, challenge themselves, and be of service. For our Community Internship Program, each student spends at least one day a week interning with a local organization. Students design internship projects that both contribute something of value to partner organizations and teaches them new skills. Springhouse students practice their leadership skills as they creatively engage in long-term service projects for our community as a part of our DIscovery Learning program.   



Embodied Living


Embodied living includes practices and activities that encourage learners to access the wisdom of their bodies. At Springhouse, we engage these practices to cultivate a relational sense of belonging within oneself, the community, and with the Earth. We integrate movement practices like dance and yoga into the curriculum, as well as field trips, outdoor activities, art projects, and other modes of observing, exploring, and engaging with the body and the natural world. Embodied living practices empower learners by fostering resiliency, confidence, self-awareness, and belonging.



Education Reimagined: http://education-reimagined.org


Education Reimagined is a network of school in the US reimagining what education looks like in the US. 


And the Mastery Transcript Consortium: https://mastery.org/


This organization is reimagining the college transcript and piloting a new transcript this coming year.