My name is Kathy Wood, I am the original founder of GreenWood Charter School in Harrisville, UT. Ever wonder who was behind this school and how it came to be?
My journey started 20 years ago with my love of nature and this incredible machine called the human body. I’ve spent many years studying herbs, food, massage therapy, and stress management techniques. I've earned a Bachelor’s degree in Herbology, a Master’s Degree in Accounting, I am a licensed massage therapist, drum circle facilitator, and have completed Impact Trainings and Dale Carnegie Leadership Trainings. I have volunteered many hours to schools and youth groups facilitating ropes courses and personal development training.
Three years ago I was looking for school options for my son. I wanted him to have an educational experience like no other school around. I sat down with my family and we spent hours brainstorming lists of everything we would love to see a school provide. We wanted a holistic education that not only educates the mind but also a school where they could learn leadership skills, to be active, to be contributors to their community, where they learn the importance of health and wellness and a school that would get kids outside so they could connect with nature. The name GreenWood reflected our love of nature and health and of course…..our last name! The name stuck and soon the school began to grow its roots.
I have spent the past three years growing this school from a tiny seed, working with an amazing group of people, dedicating weekends and nights writing a 240 page charter school application, designing the school, and spending hours away from my family to build and promote this school. I loved every minute of it – it is my vision, my passion, my love. This school was inspired by my son who has been my biggest fan and rooting for me all the way, sitting with me in booths passing out brochures and meeting future GreenWood families. I reflected this in the logo by putting a heart in the tree to remind him that he was the inspiration of this amazing school.
It was a time for celebration when the Utah Charter School Board approved our application and gave us the green light in April 2014. We knew then it was going to be great. I always said “if you build it, they will come”. It was now time to put my vision to work. We hired the school director early on in the process - (maybe a bit too early in my opinion). We didn’t know her well but we knew she was directing Da Vinci and she appeared to be very knowledgeable about what we needed to do to get the school up and running……hire teachers, find a curriculum, and everything we needed in order to follow the Core Curriculum, etc. We were excited.
I found a great piece of property in Harrisville with 12 acres – YES, 12 acres! How awesome is that – can you imagine the things students could do with that much space – everything I wanted at the school could now happen for sure. I could see it……the ropes course, a garden, a community walking trail, outdoor classrooms, the possibilities were endless. Things were going great and we were feeling good.
I did the unthinkable (sarcasm intended)........I mentioned that I wanted to be the Programs Director for the school. Not to be confused with the School Director – we had already hired ****** for that so she can make sure we are in compliance with the State by following our charter agreements and ensuring that student assessments are completed. The Programs Director, on the other hand, would be in charge of ensuring that the vision of GreenWood would be upheld. My job would be to create health and environmental programs that tie into the curriculum and to make sure we are doing what we told parents we would do – like 60 minutes of daily exercise including 30 minutes of PE each day (not 30 min of PE per WEEK-please don’t let that happen).
It’s not uncommon for a charter school to let their vision slide due to increasing demands for high test scores and pressure on teachers to teach to common core standards, hence the need for a Programs Director.
I thought it was a great fit, a no-brainer…… after all, I am the one who started this charter school – I’m the one that holds the true vision. Without me, there wouldn’t even be a GreenWood. I love children, health, and nature so my background, training, and skills have prepared me for this very job. In fact, when I wrote this position into the charter application it was a win-win for both me and the school. I thought for sure the director would be thrilled to have the school visionary transition from the board of directors to the school.
So when the school director told me that she would not allow me to join the GreenWood team, of course I was crushed, this was my dream that I've put three years of myheart and soul into. Who is she to tell me that? Well, she is the School Director, who I helped vote in – and she gets to make those decisions as to who gets to work at the school.
I was told that having me join the GreenWood team would be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Well that's not how I envisioned GreenWood at all. I am a square peg and I’m proud of it! The HEALTH core values I created for the school specifically address Honoring Diversity. I doubt that all of GreenWood students are round pegs. Each student is unique with special talents and strengths that they bring to the classroom. I never envisioned GreenWood to be a place where everyone was the same. I wanted the complete opposite actually - different backgrounds, different ideas.....because that's where the magic happens.
It was my intent that GreenWood students learn to collaborate and embrace their differences so that everyone wins together. Sure, there will be conflicting personalities within GreenWood but that’s the beauty of it – if you are wise enough to see it. The kids learn on the ropes course to pull each other up and work together and trust each other. We should all be doing this whether directors, teachers, students, or community.
Some of you have been wondering why I am no longer involved with the school. My decision not to support the director landed me in a situation where I was told to either support the director or an emergency meeting would be held to vote me off the board, and so I peacefully resigned.
The heart of GreenWood is gone – but I hope, at the very least, that the heart on the logo remains intact to pay tribute to my son and all the eager children who will eventually become a leaf on the GreenWood tree. I really do love GreenWood – it’s my baby. I wish GreenWood good luck.
My intent is not to harm anyone, instead, I just want my story to be told - I think the community deserves to hear it. I want the community to know that I created this school from my heart for the good of our children, our community, our earth. A place for children to come learn in a fun and safe environment that provides love and respect and honors them for their own individual talents and uniqueness.
I will do my best to use this experience to teach my son about trust, integrity, standing up for what you believe in, and creating the best out of life regardless of the situation, but most importantly to be proud of being a square peg and don’t let anyone try to make you fit into a round hole!
I give a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have supported this vision with dedication and hard work and a special thanks to my family and friends for all of your love and support. This is not the end for me - but a new beginning to something wonderful. Namaste!
Stay tuned……there will be more on square pegs coming soon!