If you thought that Covid had a lease on our full attention, think again! It is plain to see that we are at a pivotal crossroads in American culture. The direction we take in the coming years is no less than an existential choice. A return to business and education as usual is tantamount to burying our heads in the sand, and along with our heads, burying the cultural awakening to the vast inequalities and continued exploitation of persons of color, women, the environment, and the human spirit. So, I say, “Let’s expand!” Welcome to Homestead High School!
The vision: to create a full educational experience from pre-K to early adulthood that places the unfolding of human potential as the highest aim and offers an environment that supports the flourishing of the human spirit and an embrace of each individual’s deeper purpose.
The Homestead will start a full Junior High program next school year, September 2021, that will include grades 7-9. Maria Montessori would be proud that we are paving the way for the brilliant 3 year developmental cycle at the secondary level. In September of 2022, Homestead will launch the Senior High program with the addition of 10th grade, adding a grade each subsequent year.
It gets better! The Junior and Senior High programs will have their own new campus in Hurleyville, NY. Actually, they will have 4 connected campuses! The name we have chosen is the Collaborative College High School (CCHS).
Yes, that’s right! The Homestead School has partnered with SUNY Sullivan to offer what can only be described as a mindblowing field of educational opportunities that will be available to each student as they explore their calling. This collaboration will also be supported by The Center for Discovery, who have been leading a comprehensive effort to reimagine what it means to be a fully inclusive and sustainable community in the hamlet of Hurleyville.
The Extended Collaborative Campus
The Technology Hub and Incubator (THINC) building in Hurleyville will be rebirthed as the Collaborative Hub, homebase for the CCHS students. The recently constructed 12,740 square foot creative wonderland offers a 3D print lab, laser cutter, cnc router, a digital media lab, an audio visual lab, a ceramics studio, and a large woodworking shop. Outside, the campus includes a large greenhouse, basketball courts, and a gorgeous rail trail that opens up onto hundreds of acres for biology studies and hiking.
Beyond the Collaborative Hub is Main Street where students have access to the Hurleyville Performing Arts Center and its dance and yoga studios, as well as its theater and stage. Along Main Street, students can expand their fiber arts skills at Fiber on Main, become journalists at The Hurleyville Sentinel, run by county historian John Conway, just to mention a few of the enticing possibilities available for them to pursue as electives or as an integral part of their studies.
Follow Main Street into Loch Sheldrake and within a few minutes you arrive at the beautiful SUNY Sullivan campus where Homestead students, dually enrolled at SUNY Sullivan, will have access to the sports facilities, including a huge field house with indoor track and basketball courts and outdoors baseball and soccer fields. Ninth grade students will begin the process of selecting a study track that will allow them to dive deeper into areas that interest them, while their academic pursuits are supported by the specialized facilities and experts available to them. SUNY professors will teach full courses at the Collaborative Hub and as students enter the Senior High program they will have the opportunity to attend classes at the college, where they can take full advantage of the specialized learning classrooms, such as science, nursing, or sustainable energy labs, depending on the course of study they are pursuing. Of course, the college will also be open for students to explore a wide range of electives including the performing and fine arts. Many of these college courses will both count toward the credits needed for a NY State High School Diploma and also as college credits.
Through our partnership with The Center For Discovery students will have access to a beautiful regulation soccer field and regenerative agriculture experts who staff The Center’s incredible 300 acres of Organic and Biodynamic certified farms that abound in vegetables, orchards, livestock, and medicinal and culinary herbs.
A Unique Opportunity
We know of no other school that offers a child-centered, experiential, Montessori-based education grounded in the values of environmental stewardship, humanitarian education, commitment to service, and a focus on the development of the whole person that spans from Pre-K through High School and goes beyond to offer the depth, expertise, and facilities of a college campus where students are fully supported in pursuing a College Certificate with 32 credits or an Associate’s Degree with 65 credits. Wow! That was a mouthful!
The three tracks that are under development and that will be taught exclusively to CCHS students are: Environmental Studies, Health Studies, and Liberal Arts. Students, based on their inclination, and in consultation with CCHS and SUNY Sullivan counselors will have the opportunity to further specialize within a given track.
In other words, a student pursuing an Environmental Studies Associate’s Degree might begin to specialize towards studies in regenerative agriculture or local food shed logistics, or might take the route of environmental advocacy as students intern at Catskill Mountainkeeper. Health students might focus on the mind-body connection, pursuing any number of healing arts, or they might delve into the healing properties of food and focus on nutrition and herbal remedies. They might pursue nursing, or continue on toward a degree in medicine, perhaps through CCHS’ ties to the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. Liberal Arts majors may decide that a specialization in history or literature is the route for them, or they might focus on the visual arts.
This is quite possibly the first pre-K through Associate’s Degree Montessori experience available on the planet! Not to brag, but that is pretty awesome!
The Collaborative College High School will maintain the low student to teacher ratio that has helped make the Homestead such a caring and nurturing place. CCHS, true to the Montessori approach, will continue to provide individualized academic guidance in order to offer the appropriate amount of academic challenge and direction to the needs of a wide range of individuals. In tandem, the staff of the Homestead, SUNY Sullivan, and The Center for Discovery will provide opportunities for mentorship and counseling that will help student growth beyond academics.
The Junior and Senior High have the potential, through the use of additional buildings on Main Street, to have a total enrollment equal to the Homestead’s current enrollment of 200 students. Bringing in new students and supporting current Homestead families and students in the transition to a new campus is an absolute goal of this expansion. We are hopeful that we will quickly see a robust enrollment as we work to expand the student body.
From the start, Homestead will work with regional partners to create a wealth of scholarship opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds: socioeconomic, cultural, and ancestral. The Homestead School at both the primary and secondary levels will be offering a tiered tuition structure for the 21-22 school year. Financial aid awards for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 tuition will be offered by the Homestead School and additional scholarships based on further need or cultural reparation awards will be offered through the Friends of the Homestead School and partner organizations, and eventually by the endowment the CCHS hopes to build in the near future. Tuition for the program will be a fraction of the cost of Bard Early College programs. Just as tuition increases modestly with higher grade level programs pre-K through 6th grade, the Homestead will maintain its commitment to keep tuition accessible, but will need to reflect the additional expertise, facilities, and opportunities that the CCHS Campus will afford.
An Excellent High School and College Experience = Knowing Where You Are Going + Getting There with Less Debt
According to U.S.News: “In looking just at schools ranked in the National Universities category, for example, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020–2021 school year was $41,411 at private colleges, $11,171 for state residents at public colleges and $26,809 for out-of-state students at state schools, according to data reported to U.S. News in an annual survey.” While CCHS is not free, the depth of experience, incredible facilities, expansive learning opportunities and instructors, plus the opportunity to graduate with not only an Associates Degree, but a full two years of college credits earned and transferable presents an appealing rethinking of how we can finance our children’s education.
Yikes! We didn’t plan for this and what about transportation for my 7th, 8th, or 9th Grader?
We understand that, while this comes as exciting news, it is a surprise and presents potential logistical and financial challenges for our families, especially those of our current 6 & 7 graders. For all of you who looked forward to less monthly costs as your children transitioned to public schools, but now are grappling to consider this opportunity, please know that we are here to support this transition and hope to have as many current students continue on with us as possible.
While much work still remains between now and September, our current thinking is to have a later start time for the beginning of classes at CCHS. For some families this might mean that your adolescent can catch some much needed, and developmentally appropriate, extra sleep. For other families a morning study hall will provide an earlier drop off time at the Collaborative Hub. The goal is to have a shuttle from the Homestead School (Glen Spey campus) to CCHS running each morning to bring our more southern situated families and siblings to Hurleyville. A shuttle from Narrowsburg is also a possibility that we are exploring. As always, we will assist in the formation of carpools.
Busing will be available from Monticello, Fallsburg, Liberty, and Tri-Valley School Districts assuming we have students within the requisite 15 mile radius.
We are truly thrilled to be offering this opportunity for a greatly expanded and extended Homestead+ experience to our community! Much more will be shared in the coming weeks and months…
Head of School, Collaborative College High School