PUTNEY -- Landmark College and Greenwood School signed an agreement Wednesday to work more closely together to help students with learning disabilities make the successful transition from high school to college.
Landmark College was founded in 1985 as the first college in the country to serve students with learning disabilities, while Greenwood School has been teaching boys with learning disabilities in grades six through nine since 1978. Both schools are in Putney and through the years there has been a loose and informal working relationship between the two schools.
Administrators from both schools met on the Landmark campus Wednesday morning to sign a memorandum of understanding that will establish a more formal working relationship between the two institutions.
"The transition to college is very challenging for any student, especially a student with LD (learning disabilities)," Landmark College President Peter Eden said. "We have the two world class institutions for students with LD in one tiny town in Vermont and now there is no longer a gap. If we can develop a continuum of learning and teaching from middle school and high school into college, these kids are going to be better served."
Under terms of the agreement the two schools will create a Landmark College internship program at Greenwood to give Landmark students who are interested in education a chance to work in the classroom with Greenwood students.
The two schools are also seeking to expand their educational technology and online learning resources, and staff from Landmark and Greenwood will spend more time at the other school to develop learning strategies and collaborate on new programs.
Staff from the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, which develops training programs for teachers, will spend more time at Greenwood School. And the two schools will collaborate more to help Greenwood students get ready for college.
Greenwood high school seniors will be able to take classes at Landmark for college credit and Greenwood families will be able to visit Landmark and use its resources as they get ready for life after secondary school.
"It was such an obvious strategic move to help young people and help the college and each other," Eden said. "It's the kind of strategic alliance that benefits so many different elements of our institutions, as well as so many young people. It's a natural but we had to be the architects of it. We'll build our foundation first and see how our relationship grows."
Greenwood School Headmaster Stewart Miller said both institutions saw significant change over the past few years which paved the way for Wednesday's announcement.
In May 2011 Landmark hired Eden, a new president who was eager to connect Landmark more with the wider Putney community. At the same time, Greenwood School extended its program to include an accredited high school after teaching middle school boys with learning disabilities.
Miller said when Edeb was hired the two directors met and almost instantly began to form a stronger relationship which grew over time, leading to Wednesday's signing ceremony.
"It naturally came together with a new president at Landmark and at the same time Greenwood was evolving into a grade six through 12 school so it naturally came together," Miller said. "The opportunities became clearer as we started to talk and this is just the tip of the of the iceberg. We're stronger together than we are apart and I think there are many opportunities that are research related and program related we can envision together."
Miller said many of the programs have been informally building over the past year and the schools will continue to support and encourage that growth in the coming years.
"This happened organically. We were already doing a lot of these things informally now we have a new strategic vision for this partnership," Miller said. "It makes so much sense on so many levels."
"We have had informal tracts for a long time, but it's been catch-as-catch can, and we are particularly enthused about formalizing that relationship and seeing it move forward on a consistent, ongoing basis on multiple levels," said Manju Banerjee, vice president and director of Landmark College Institute for Research and Training. "Now there are recognized bridges and it's not just professional development. We are going to be able to develop a more consistent track for students at both schools. There is a new level of collaboration and the biggest beneficiaries are going to be the students at both institutions."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 279 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Howard @HowardReformer.