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Schools & Program Visits - Jun, 2000 Issue #70 

Field of Harvest
Darlene Lamos
Johnson, Vermont

Visited on May 12, 2000
By Steve Bozak CEP, member IECA

First take the ferry boat ride from Essex to Charlotte, Vermont, then, a beautiful one hour ride thought the Vermont Green mountains, and you will arrive in the small country town of Johnson. You may need to ask a few people before you can find someone who can point you down the dirt road that leads deep into the forest to the “Fields of Harvest School,” a school for at-risk boys aged 13 through 18, ranging from grades 6 to 12. 

The school takes place in a large Vermont-style ranch house, high on a hill, with animals and woodpiles in the backyard. We see kids in classrooms as we enter through the front door. A friendly student welcomes us and leads us to the school’s office. We glance into classrooms as we walk, and see smiling students studying with a teacher. Classes are about 5 to 10 in size. The classroom was well decorated and looked like a typical classroom. 

“What can I do to get kicked out of here?” asked the new student who just arrived. “Nothing” the headmaster answered! “It doesn’t help you to kick you out and we are all here to help you be successful.”

This was satisfying to the parents but not for the new student. A new student is matched up with a current student who is doing well enough to be a mentor to the new student. The new student has a friend from the first day at the school. Neal Kidney, Executive Director of the school explained the kids learn respect for others and for themselves. The school’s environment is free from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, and according to Neal, kids don’t get bored here. 

There are always lots of activities going on. The staff, along with Neal, pays close attention as they work together with the boys to develop character and maturity. A staff counselor comes in weekly to visit with the staff and provides individual and group counseling for the kids. 

Though the school can hold up to 45 kids, currently it has 20-day students and 8 boarders. They are in the process of remodeling to make more dormitory rooms for the boys.

Academics are taught 5 days a week, with structured free time to allow the boys time to study and play. All high school subjects are taught, enabling the students to graduate with a high school diploma and go on to a suitable college. 

The boys can stay at Fields of Harvest for the total 4 years of high school. If the boys buy into what the program has to teach them, they will graduate with self-confidence, a love for others and themselves, along with a high school diploma and the skills to be successful. 

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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