Four Winds truly offers an individualized education. Students work at their own level of achievement in all subjects, receiving individual help from teachers, and making progress daily. Working at their own pace and their own level means that students are challenged every day. Students at Four Winds quickly gain academic confidence, knowing that they can meet these daily challenges and that they will never be behind or lost.
Four Winds is a safe, nurturing environment where students will never feel like they are failing. At the same time Four Winds offers challenging academics. Students leave ready for high-school math, in fact some will have already completed Algebra, Geometry or higher high-school level math. They will have strong writing skills and a sense of their own voices as writers. Four Winds students graduate with a solid foundation in Latin. Most important, Four Winds students will have learned how to learn. They will have gained confidence and begun to enjoy learning. With these skills, they will be able to get the most out of any high school or college they attend in the future.
The academic day begins at 8:30, pick-up is at 3:30.
8:30-9:30 Poem and Creative Writing: Together we read a daily poem and work on our creative writing. It’s a great way to get centered and get those creative juices flowing at the start of the day.
9:30-12:30 Academic Work Time: Students work at their own pace on academic work they’ve selected for themselves. Teachers are available for help and guidance. We all take a break from 10:30-10:50, during which time students can eat snacks, play games, or go outside. However, students can take any breaks they need during academic work time outside of the scheduled break time.
12:30-1:30 Lunch: Lunch, board games, and outside time for an hour.
1:30-2:30 Afternoon classes
Monday/Tuesday Humanities class: We often read, do activities with maps or timelines, and have whole group discussions.
Wednesday/Thursday Science class: Students work in pairs to complete hands-on experiments and lab reports.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: Project Time After 10 minutes of visual art time, students are allowed to embark on any creative, educational, or artistic project in which they are interested.
Thursday: Cleaning Day We work together to clean the building.
On the fist Friday of the biweekly we go on a field trip. Our trips are always with experts in their field and relate to the topics we are studying in class. In the winter when field trips are less feasible, we watch educational/related movies.
On the second Friday of the biweekly, students have free time unless they need to finish any of their remaining biweekly work.
3:15-3:30 Pick up Students start cleaning up at 3:15 and should be picked up by 3:30pm.
The academic year runs from September to June, meeting for a total of 165 days to end the academic year. We observe most legal holidays excepting Columbus Day; take a full week break in November, two full weeks for the winter holidays, and one week breaks in February and April, corresponding with the vacations of the public schools. Click here to view our calendar.
We place a high value on both work and play. For that reason, our daily lunch break is an hour. During that time, many students choose to take advantage of the school’s huge field and basketball courts. The school always has a collection of basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs and Frisbees on hand for everyone’s use. Students also bring their own sporting equipment for break time. Lacrosse sticks, street hockey gear, and roller blades have all found their way inside Four Winds’ doors at one time or another. We have a huge field with a baseball diamond and a half basket ball court which also houses our often-used four square court.
Many of our students maintain their ties to their community by participating on local sports teams. At Four Winds, we recognize the importance of such activities and are flexible in allowing students time to make such commitments.
We take advantage of the school’s size by emphasizing the common ground students find with their classmates and discovering the strength in each other. Students form strong friendships at the school every day, but what is especially important is how our students relate to everyone— their peers, their instructors, and their communities. Our emphasis on the uniqueness of all individuals gives our students a greater appreciation of their own gifts and the gifts of others.
Because individualized instruction in basic skills is a foundational commitment of Four Winds, the school enrolls a maximum of fourteen (14) pupils.
We have two full time teachers and two teacher’s assistants. Click here to view our “meet the teachers” page. Throughout the year, the students of Four Winds have many opportunities to meet with, and learn from, people in the larger community. In addition, guest scholars work with the students in arts, sciences, health, and local history.
No! Four Winds School does not believe in assigning homework for students. In fact, there are many studies that suggest that “there is no evidence to demonstrate that homework benefits students below high school age.” We would prefer students use their after-school time to spend time with their families, participate in extra curricular activities, or relax!
The only times that students have homework is if they did not finish their biweekly work during the appointed time (due to poor time management). We do not have students make up work that they missed due to sickness or snow days.
Anywhere they want to!
Many of our students go back to their community’s high schools, and are eager for the challenges they will find there. Four Winds graduates have attended Amherst Regional High School, Franklin County Technical School, Northampton High School, Pioneer Regional High School, and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. Others opt for continuing their private school experience, going to schools such as The Cambridge School of Weston, Charlemont Academy, Deerfield Academy, High Mowing School, Northfield-Mount Hermon, North Star, Stoneleigh-Burnham, and Williston-Northampton.
The school’s graduates have gone on to study at Earlham College, Greenfield Community College, Hampshire College, Longy School of Music, Macalester College, Paul Smith’s College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College, Tulane University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and more.
Financing Your Education
For the 2018-2019 school year, tuition and all additional fees total $11,500. Tuition almost entirely covers our operating budget, including texbooks, field trips, supplies, teachers salaries and more.
The cost of most other private middle school programs in the Valley is substantially greater than ours. While they all have excellent programs, the program at Four Winds stands out among them in its ability to foster each child’s education individually, and to do so for many thousands of dollars less each year.
Many educators recognize the middle school years as the pivotal point of a child’s educational career. In the transition from elementary school to high school, many children lose the openness and willingness to engage that characterizes the earlier years of their education. Finding a middle school setting that genuinely engages your child and actively builds on his or her sense of academic accomplishment significantly improves the likelihood of success for your child in high school and beyond. While the exorbitant costs of college might seem to preclude paying any tuition now, remember that success in high school is critical to the success of your child in the college admissions process.
Four Winds is located at 54 French King Hwy. Gill, MA. We operate out of two classrooms in the former Gill elementary school building on Route 2 just west of the public boat landing. This building also houses the Gill Historical Society.
Four Winds has a rolling admissions program. After the re-enrollment of our current students is complete, you will be notified of the status of your application.