PUTNEY -- It has been quite a year for the Greenwood School.
In April Greenwood School, a small independent school for boys with learning disabilities, was thrust into the national spotlight when the Ken Burns film, "The Address," premiered on PBS.
"The Address" follows a year inside Greenwood School where the students are asked to memorize Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and the film documents the struggles and triumphs the students experience while working on their speeches.
School Headmaster Stewart Miller said the school is still receiving inquiries and input from the film, and school staff have been asked to speak about education and learning disabilities at conferences across the U.S. and Canada.
Greenwood entered into a formal collaboration with Landmark College and in June the school graduated its first high school class after beginning its high school program four years ago.
And the school this year completed a $3 million renovation and expansion that added about 3,500 square feet of science labs and music and art studios.
So Miller said the staff and administration were feeling pretty good about what was going on at the school
And now, according to national ranking that was recently released, word is getting out about the small school of about 50 students that is tucked away off of Watt Pond Road in Putney.
Greenwood School has been named one of the top 50 best private special-needs schools in the United States by the Master's in Special Education Program Guide, a national coalition of special education masters programs and associations that support special education in the United States.
The Master's in Special Education Program Guide looked at private boarding and day schools across the country, raking the schools on curriculum, student-to-teacher ratio, awards it has received and "unique programs which transcend the basic academic curricula, like animal therapy, links to college, online learning options, sports or arts."
"This list was created to provide a starting point for kids who are considering going to a special needs school so it is very nice for Greenwood to be acknowledged with this award," Miller said. "They graded schools all over the country and the award reflects the strength of our programs and the talent of our teaching staff. It is a real honor."
Greenwood was recognized in the national ranking for its low student-faculty ratio, and also for the attention students receive outside of the classroom.
"The school offers more than individualized attention," the report authors found. "In addition to small classes, every day for one hour each student meets with a trained tutor who helps to determine the student's changing needs and addresses specific academic weekly issues. Additionally, many faculty live on campus and are available to provide extra help and guidance before and after school hours. The school directs its students and prepares them for the next educational step."
Miller said the national ranking comes at a pivotal times in Greenwood's 36-year history.
Along with expanding its high school program in 2011, Miller said the recent renovations and addition has allowed the school to start new digital art, engineering and entrepreneurship programs.
The school is adding more internship opportunities out into the community and next year, Miller said, the school will start on a business program where students will develop, design and market a product that will be distributed.
Miller said "The Address" and other recent studies and conversations are highlighting how students with learning differences can make specific and important contributions to business, technology, art, education and all levels of society.
"I think the ranking reflects our belief that our kids have a lot to offer the world and we want to develop that passion and strength in everyone of them," Miller said. "We are trilled to be recognized and to be on the cutting edge, and to be leading a national conversation on increasing the understanding of the talent and potential our students have."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.