At Wellsprings, we believe that education is not a “one-size-fits-all” transaction. Our pedagogy is based on understanding that learning evolves from relationships, engaging curriculum, and the ability to expound upon the inherent interests of each student. We see all knowledge as collective, meaning no hierarchy of discipline takes precedence. Wellsprings provides alternative learning approaches, supportive community, and a culture of individual affirmation, in which teenagers are mentored and assisted towards meeting the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.
Our Values and Goals
We believe in the power of:
Affirmation, Community, Self-regulation, Nurturing, Teaching “outside of the box”, Relationships, Non-violence, Silence, Acceptance, Walking lightly on the Earth
Our goals as educators at Wellsprings is:
To mutually decide with prospective students if this school is a good match for them
To take the time to get to know each student and their individual learning needs
To nourish a community where each person feels accepted and appreciated, physically and emotionally safe
To use dialoguing and problem solving to deal with any issues that arise in the community
To help our students develop an internal sense of responsibility
Wellsprings Friends School specializes in alternative education for lifelong learners. With a maximum of 60 students in grades 9-12, we take time to get to know each student and their individual needs. Students who were frustrated or turned off by their prior educational experiences typically thrive in our environment.
Participation in Morning Circle
Being present in Silent Circle
Participation in Community Meetings
Participation in All-School activities
Participation in School Chores
“Community Building” is required for graduation. It is graded as either “Pass” (P) or “No Basis” (NB), with credits calculated proportionally to attendance and participation. Because many students do not begin at Wellsprings in their freshman year, requiring a single fixed number of credits for everyone is inappropriate. Instead, the requirement is individually calculated, based on the expectation that you will earn an average of at least 0.2 credits per term in “Community Building” is a class unlike any other. It is based on genuine participation in daily life at Wellsprings. It is an essential part of being a Wellsprings student, and making the school a comfortable, functional, and fun environment—for you, and for everyone here. Formal credit (0.25 credits per term) is based on the following criteria:
attendance, or in other words, at least 80% of the credit for Community Building that you could earn while enrolled in Wellsprings.
Every day starts with a 10-minute Morning Circle. Announcements are made, stories told, birthdays celebrated, a “quote of the day” and “word of the day”shared, and often a joke or bad pun leaves everyone laughing…or groaning.
After Morning Circle on Fridays, the school community remains for Silent Circle, a practice of value for our daily lives and a practice that has roots in many cultures and traditions. As the whole group settles into a sustained period of silence, every person should seek to quiet their mind and body. This is a time for personal reflection and community oneness. During Silent Circle it is not appropriate to talk, whisper, touch others, make noise, listen to headphones, read, share seats, leave the room, or in any way disturb the peaceful atmosphere. The Silent Circle lasts fifteen minutes, and ends when the leader says, “Good morning, friends,” and everyone in the circle holds hands.
Once each term all students and staff gather for a Community Meeting, and at other times when needed. All members of the community are expected to attend. Students and staff are encouraged to bring items for discussion along with concerns and problems that may need to be addressed by the entire community, as well as joys and other sharing. All points of view will be heard and respected, with consensus being reached on any item that requires a decision.
All School Activities
Wednesday afternoons are set aside for all-school activities. Each week is a different activity. Once a term we hold a Community Meeting and once each term we do Community Service. A popular community service activity is Burrito Missionaries, when a group of students, led by a teacher, travel around the city and hand out burritos—made in the morning by the Cooking Class—to unhoused individuals. Recreational activities, always popular, include bowling, laser tag, miniature golf, visiting the pumpkin patch, and many others. We also visit local museums, farms, production facilities like Glory Bee, and so on. Another area of Wednesday activities is professional performances, which have included Chinese Acrobats, Native Pride Dancers, Robotics demonstrations, Taiko Drums, and Juggling; and also programs by local organizations such as SASS, Courageous Kids, HIV Alliance, CALC, and 350 Eugene. Lastly, some Wednesdays we just hang out here at school - sometimes, “free form” when everyone gets to choose one of various activities happening around the school; other times, something like a “movie night” afternoon, complete with popcorn!
Part of being a community member includes keeping the shared environment clean and comfortable. At break time during afternoon block classes, waste baskets are emptied, floors swept or vacuumed, stray dishes collected and washed, recycling and compost taken outside, etc. Everyone is expected to lend a hand.
CELEBRATING PERSONAL GROWTH
& ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
“To see what Wellsprings is all about, come to Graduation!” Again and again over the years, we - teacher, parent, Trustee, Head - have said this to people. Not only does Graduation represent the culmination of their high school years for all the graduates, our ceremony itself reflects and expresses what makes Wellsprings, Wellsprings!
Here is what one guest, not related to any of the graduates, wrote to us after attending a Wellsprings Graduation ceremony:
“It was the most moving, most joyful graduation event I had ever attended. I found myself crying off and on. I observed true caring and interest in life and learning by all those who spoke and participated….It was empowering. Thank you.”
Graduation at Wellsprings is not an assembly line process. As in everything we do during the year - classes, field trips, community meetings, special events - it is humanized and individualized. What stands out as you experience the event is the time when one by one, a teacher will talk about an individual student. You can see several snapshots of those moments on this page. The other element that makes Graduation so special is that we invite anyone in the audience to speak from their hearts. Parents, siblings, friends, relatives… all get a chance, if they wish, to share their thoughts and feelings.
You might also note in the photos that there is no uniformity in the style of dress of the graduates. Some are wearing cap and gown (in any color they like), others are dressed in their own special way. The students choose. After all, it’s their day.
“It was the best graduation I have ever attended!” commented LouAnne Johnson, Wellsprings 2008 Commencement speaker, author of Dangerous Minds and numerous other books on education.
Three students comprised the first Graduating class in 1996. Since then, almost 300 students have completed high school at Wellsprings, many of whom never would have graduated without us.