Frequently Asked Questions
Greenfields is fundamentally different from traditional schools because students are in control of their own learning. How Greenfields is different.
- Student-driven, self-paced learning
- Real-world projects and apprenticeships
- Multi-age/grade classes
- Student self-governance
- Exploration and assessment of skill levels, learning styles, aptitudes, personality traits, and interests
- Guides rather than teachers
- Socratic discussions rather than lectures
- Mastery learning and student portfolios of achievements rather than grades
- No homework
- No teaching to the test
While we don’t have traditional grade levels, we serve learners ages 5 through 17 in mixed-age classrooms. This multi-age setting mirrors the broader world and provides regular opportunities for leadership and peer to peer exchanges.
In the current school year, we have a total of 42 students, and have the capacity to grow to a total of 50 in the year ahead and more in the years beyond.
Although we don’t issue grades to students, their progress is measured and tracked through a variety of tools and systems. Our badge system outlines expectations for reading, writing, math, and social/emotional progress by year. Students work with a Guide to differentiate their core curriculum and set daily, weekly, and/or session goals. They showcase their mastery by meeting their goals, earning badges, assembling portfolios and taking part in public exhibitions of their work.
Student goals connect to the mastery of specific curriculum objectives through our online learning tools such as Lexia Learning and Khan Academy, which also provide progress snapshots. An optional standardized test is administered in a low-stakes format each year to provide one more measure of student learning. These evaluations and assessments are shared between parents, staff, and students in regular meetings, and parents are able to review student portfolios.
Greenfields students learn problem-solving, resilience, empathy, listening skills, and personal organization. These skills are transferable to every area of life, including more traditional schooling. Students with experience setting their own learning goals and managing their time will thrive in a high school or college setting.
Although we don’t issue grades to students, our students’ portfolios and critical thinking skills will be a big boost during the application and interviewing process. Most importantly, they will be well prepared to shine in the real world, whether they choose to go to college full time, part time or not at all.
Technology is a useful tool and we are excited for our students to learn how to use computers to access information, communicate effectively, and learn independently. Our youngest learners have limited access to laptops and tablets, whose use amounts to less than one hour per day on educational programs. Older students use their individually-assigned Chromebooks during some of their morning Core Skills time and for portions of their afternoon projects, averaging 2-3 hours per day. A student-created Internet Use Policy ensures technology tools are used appropriately.
Greenfields offers rotating intensives in either art, music, or drama along with physical education. Also, on our weekly Discovery Days, students can participate in clubs or workshops such as yearbook, dance, chess, cooking, yoga, and much more. We schedule regular field trips and visiting heroes that align with our current projects.
Parent involvement is encouraged as we seek mentors and speakers to enrich our students’ learning experience. We also have several active parent committees who support the school in things like making assisting in the classroom, planning fields trips, designing parent education events, and hosting fun family socials. Families are regularly invited to the school to participate in student showcases of their work at the end of each project.
We do not offer before-school care, but our school is open for drop off at 8 am, with school beginning at 8:30 am.
Our after school program meets daily until 6 pm and includes snack time, outdoor/free play time, and a daily workshop. Workshop topics vary by day of the week and session, and include music, art, drama, science, cooking, community service, and technology. Students can sign up for a single day or the whole week, depending on their interest/need. We also extend these offerings into break camps for those weeks when school is not in session.
Greenfields is proud to be an internationally-accredited school. The process of becoming accredited involves community surveys, an in-depth self-study, and the creation of a school improvement plan. An external assessor then visits the school to ensure we are meeting or exceeding all of their quality standards. To maintain accreditation, our school must follow a path of continuous improvement, providing annual reports of our progress and customer satisfaction ratings. This experience echoes at a school level what our students embrace on a personal level: goal-setting, feedback loops, and self-reflection.
As an accredited school, our curriculum is recognized as meeting key academic standards and, as such, students who attend Greenfields Academy can easily transfer their course credits from our school to a college or university, or to another K-12 school. In addition, accreditation connects Greenfields Academy with a community of high-achieving schools with whom we can share resources and best practices. We further extend this community through membership in other key educational organizations and by attending regular meetings and conferences with our peers.
- AdvancEd Accreditation Commission: in regional partnership with North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI)
- NIPSA: National Independent Private Schools Association
- IALDS: International Association of Learner-Driven Schools
- Progressive Education Network
- Alternative Education Research Organization
- Northside Parents Network of Chicago
- Chicago Gifted Community Center
- Coalition of Essential Schools
- World Future Society
We believe that each of us has a special calling in life, and a series of trials and tests that must be faced with integrity and purpose, in order to live a satisfying and fulfilled life. Our mission is to prepare your child for their special journey.
Someone who can research questions, follow instructions, solve problems—admit that they don’t know something and figure out a solution when they hit a roadblock without asking an adult for help — participate in discussions, and strive for mastery.
We believe each of our students will find a passion — something they love and have a gift to do. They will use this gift to serve others and fulfill a need they are passionate about in the world. This may be by becoming a shoe-shiner who tells stories and makes people’s day just by doing his job with love and vigor; it may be by becoming a coach who sees the light in a child’s eyes and guides her to pursue a dream; it may be by becoming a father or mother who leads a family on a Hero’s Journey; it may be becoming an entrepreneur or business leader guided by compassion and integrity; or it may be by becoming an artist or writer who brings beauty to people’s lives.
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