Village Free School is a much needed and exceptional option for students in their high school years! Our daughter attended Village Free School for her junior and senior years of high school. Having attended two of Portland's great magnet schools for elementary and middle school she was let down by the PPS high school she attended and began to lose her passion for learning. After researching many alternative schools we decided on VFS. Among many of the schools strengths are it's talented teachers who have a deep understanding and respect for the students, a great student to teacher ratio, and a mix of ages of students who attend. Our daughter completed VFS's graduation process and is now enthusiastic about attending college in the fall. We owe much to VFS for rekindling our daughters passion for learning and giving her a sense of empowerment as she moves into her adult years.
This school is inspirational! the teachers are talented, dedicated and creative mentors for the students. This is a democratically run school which means that the children have a strong and powerful voice in how the school is run. This has made the difference for my child. When something isn't working for her, she is able to bring it to the All School Meeting and the staff and students talk it over and vote on solutions. The school accomplishes all of this while educating the students on emotional, character growth and guiding them in academics that are important. Here students are met and respected where they are at academically and encouraged, guided and taught to get them where they want and need to be. As a parent, I have never felt more respected and meaningfully involved in my student's education.
The school community is very warm and involved, the kids are amazingly respectful and happy. My child absolutely loved her time at VFS. The teachers focus strongly on the social interactions of the students, everyone is polite and positive. Unfortunately there are zero academics. There are no actual classes. All day is free play. Video games and TV are allowed. There is very little outdoor involvement. There are lots of neat materials, sitting there unused by any staff or kids. I appreciate the time and attention the staff put in helping my child's social transition into the school community, but it drove me nuts that there was no math, science, art, music, or anything at all resembling school happening, ever. Also the parent volunteer aspect was completely chaotic. This school is very "free", as in kids are free to text and gossip all day. Lots of chaos. Very little organization. Overall I can't recommend this as a school, except maybe for homeschoolers who are looking for occasional social interaction in the part time program. It's more of a really fun & expensive all day playdate.
This is my 8 yr old son's 2nd year at the Village Free School. He is thriving! There are very few places in this world that truely respect and listen to children from a place of authenticity and a genuine interest in who the person is. This also makes being involved in the VFS community a pleasure. We are all human, we make mistakes, sometimes life feels uncomfortable, and yet these are the places that can make the most difference for us. It is a community learning together how to live in community. It is teachers and students swapping rolls all the time. It is chaotic and sometimes very structured. There are moments when I am overcome with joy, just watching the children interact and work out their differences. No one is bad or wrong, we are all just figuring it out and making room for everyone.
My children are thriving at Village Free School, where they are learning to get along with people of all ages, resolve conflicts peacefully, trust themselves, and have a wonderful childhood. The staff are a group of warm, intelligent, dedicated people who work very hard for little money because they wholeheartedly believe in trusting and respecting children. My kids are disappointed when they have a vacation becuase they love school, it's so much FUN! Of course, they are learning all kinds of amazing 'academic' things too, there are a ton of classes, trips, materials, and opportunities each day.