By Chandra Montgomery Nicol, Executive Director
Since our first day on October 3, 1967, Clonlara School has grown strong roots in the Ann Arbor community and has touched many lives both locally and globally through our programs.
Pat Montgomery, Clonlara’s founder, began with a dream of building a school in which the students’ interests and curiosity would guide the curriculum. A school that wouldn’t limit a child’s learning to one location, but would use the community and the world for lessons and experience. This “gem on Jewett” in Ann Arbor would engage parents and honor their role in their child’s learning. It would measure student success on an individual level, instead of comparing test scores.
These ideas were ahead of their time in 1967, but time has shown that Pat’s intuition for how children learn best was accurate. New findings in brain development (PDF) and child psychology are proving that Clonlara’s approach—putting students at the center of the learning process and letting their interests guide their educational experience—is truly healthy and advantageous. Using the knowledge gained over decades of working with students and families, we have systematized our practices into a research-supported model called Full Circle Learning, which provides a true foundation for lifelong learning.
Now, as we build on our roots and grow into the future with the celebration of our 50th anniversary, we hope you will join us in sharing Clonlara’s vision of a better model for education that doesn’t limit kids to textbooks and rote memorization, but uses all available resources and technologies and fosters higher-order skills—critical thinking, creative problem solving, and reflection—to prepare each student for the college or career of their choice. Wherever and whenever learning happens, we want to make sure it is something that kids don’t want to stop doing at the end of the day!
Whether your family is new to Clonlara School or has been with us for years, we are grateful for the opportunity to support your student in experiencing the joy of learning during their school-age years. And, we look forward to spending another special year with you.
As part of Clonlara’s 50th anniversary celebration, we will be collecting and sharing stories from the students, families, staff, and others who have been part of the school’s rich history. If you have special Clonlara memory or story to tell, please add it in the comments below.