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Visionary and Leadership Schools

"To build a school is to build a Civilization. . ."
- Robert Stevenson: Engineer, Builder of Bridges and Lighthouses, Ancestor

      Welcome to Geotrees.Com's Visionary and Leadership Schools page.

      By "visionary schools" we mean those schools, learning programs, and learning communities that share four basic qualities. They are intentionally organized to help people gain knowledge and experience that transform their understanding and their lives in deep, fundamental and tangible ways. Their impact often reaches through and beyond their students and graduates to embrace other people and the world at large. It flows along paths to bring equity, harmony, and enwholement into the world. And the full value of a visionary school unfolds and ripens in the lives and impact of its students over years, decades, after they graduate.

      In this section, we offer descriptions and links to schools that explore fundamental knowledge, often in unconventional ways, for the sake of cooperation and harmony among humankind. These schools serve students ranging from elementary school into adulthood. Some are not formally academic at all; many serve as role models and examples to be emulated by others. Many of these schools will be in the Washington, DC area, but others will come from around the globe. Some of the schools and learning communities we will look at already exist. Some exist no longer. And some are yet dreams waiting to be called into being. It is our hope that they stimulate thought, conversation, and action that build visionary education - and the transformation that results from it.

      Schools are listed alphabetically within sections for the National Capital Region and Around the Globe. As of July 29, 2008 there is a third section for Seed Organizations - not schools themselves, but created to support and help develop them. If you know of a visionary school or seed organization in the US or elsewhere, please let us know.


In the National Capital Region...

Washington, DC

(UNDER CONSTRUCTION, Saturday, February 2, 2008)

NEW! Posted TBD, 2008
      Founded by Colman McCarthy in 1982; as of early 2008, Colman teaches classes at three high schools and three universities in the metro DC area. In addition to teaching, Colman has been a columnist with The Washington Post and is the author of several books, including I'd Rather Teach Peace.

      "By rough estimate, IÕve had more than 5,000 students since that first high school class in 1982. IÕve felt blessed. With all of them, from the brainiest third-year law students on their way to six figure beginning salaries to 14-year-old illiterates locked up for hustling drugs, I emphasized one theme: Alternatives to violence exist and, if individuals and nations can organize themselves properly, nonviolent force is always stronger, more enduring and, assuredly, more moral than violent force."

      (From the www.votenader.org site, 2004)   "Mr. McCarthy estimates that there are some 50 million learners in American schools who are open to ideas that stress peaceful resolution instead of aggression. 'Unless we teach our children peace,' he says, 'someone else will teach them violence.'

      "The Washington-based Center for Teaching Peace, which Mr. McCarthy continues to run, helps teachers, school districts, parents, students, and anyone else seeking either to begin or expand academic courses in peace education. Besides providing assistance with curriculum development, it has published two textbooks - Solutions to Violence and Strength Through Peace: The Ideas and People of Nonviolence."

  • Tel. (202) 537-1372
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Columbia Heights, Washington, DC


      "The District of Columbia Bilingual Public Charter School (DC Bilingual), which opened in September 2004, seeks to expand educational opportunities and choices for children from three years of age through grade five by implementing a dual language program that will enable students to meet high academic expectations and develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills and a joy of learning. DCBPCS's approach encourages students to be self-motivated, life-long learners, who will express their creativity, develop strong leadership skills, and value the diverse cultures of our city. This new school draws on the 17-year history of its parent organization, CentroNia, and shares with it a philosophy rooted in respect for the culturally and linguistically rich environment of Columbia Heights, the community in which DCBPCS two sites will be located.

      "DC Bilingual opened in September 2004 which 122 students from early Pre-K (three-year-olds) through Kindergarten. The school will add a grade each year through 5th grade in 2009."

  • Address: 1420 Columbia Road NW, Washington DC, 20009
  • Tel. (202) 332-4200
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Alexandria, Virginia


      "Hands-on learning through environmental science and the arts." A new school in Alexandria, Virginia.

      "The Howard Gardner School is a small, progressive independent high school for college-bound learners in Alexandria, Virginia. With a focus on environmental science and the arts, the school's mission is to help bright, creative non-traditional learners use their unique strengths to thrive academically, intellectually and emotionally. As a result, we attract many young people who are musicians, artists, athletes, and naturalists, as well as students whose strengths are primarily verbal or mathematical.

      "Our approach is based on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, research in human development, and a tradition of progressive education tracing back to John Dewey.

      "Our students view the world as their classroom. The school draws from the rich resources of the Washington, DC area in order to integrate weekly field studies into the curriculum, and students participate in weekly internships.

      "We value community, mutual respect, group work, warmth and humor, and sense of place. Our students are open, flexible, and learn to think for themselves. They will make wonderful, participatory citizens and be uniquely equipped to deal with the challenges of an increasingly complex world."

  • Address: 4913 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310
  • Tel. (703) 822-9300
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Washington, DC and Baltimore, Md.


      "Founded in 1967 by Sally L. Smith, The Lab School of Washington is internationally recognized for its innovative programs for children and adults with learning disabilities. The Lab School Day School offers individualized instruction to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

      "The Lab School of Washington is unique. Here, the arts are central to the educative process in the Primary, Elementary and Intermediate Divisions. Spending half the day in highly specialized, individualized classrooms and the other half in the arts, younger students with moderately to severe learning disabilities develop the basic skills necessary for their academic development. Social studies and humanities are taught through a unique program incorporating art, music, drama and hands-on learning experiences.

      "The theoretical framework of the school asserts that the arts, taught in a specific way, help develop the neural organization that our students lack and must learn in order to succeed at school. The arts are treated as organizers, each having its own discipline. The student concentrates on the product or performance while faculty concentrate on teaching the process... Besides the perceptual, cognitive and often very specific academic learning that takes place through the arts, there are many opportunities for creativity to flourish and success to be enjoyed...

      "Success in the arts often renews effort in academic areas and prepares youngsters for vocations and careers. Being taught the approach to a task is as important as any task a student with a learning disability can learn. The Lab School must teach its students explicitly the skills that other students may learn ŅnaturallyÓ: how to organize their work, their assignments, their belongings, themselves."

  • Main Campus: Lab School of Washington Š main campus, 4759 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007
  • Tel. (202) 965-6600
  • In Baltimore: 2220 St. Paul St., Baltimore, Md.
  • Baltimore phone: (410) 261-5500
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Chevy Chase, Maryland


      "The aim of education is greater than helping students gain the skills and knowledge they need to be successful adults within their own culture. Its ultimate aim is to empower students with a global perspective, with empathy, and with a deeper sense of purpose so they can one day help create a new culture of peace, tolerance and unity for the whole human family." - Andrew Kutt, Founder and Executive Director

      "The international peace academy," grades three years through eighth grade. "International community, world culture studies, foreign languages, strong academics, multiple intelligences, conflict resolution and cooperation skills, emphasis on tolerance and diversity, involved parent community," and more. A Montessori school.

      "Vision: Our vision is to foster a new generation of leaders who become meaningful contributors to the society of the 21st century by expanding their consciousness, realizing their potential, and coming to feel and understand that the world is one family.

      "Mission: Our mission is to provide a learning environment in which personal growth is valued as much as academic excellence. Supporting the foundation of our curriculum are five essential pillars:
      - Skills: Provide students with the academic and life skills they will need to successfully live, work, and achieve their goals.
      - Knowledge: Guide them toward a deeper knowledge of themselves - their strengths, interests, values, feelings, and aspirations.
      - Self-Expression: Empower them in the realistic, creative, and harmonious expression of their own visions.
      - Understanding: Instill in them a broad understanding of, and respect for, the world and its diverse cultures.
      - Appreciation: Nurture their appreciation for life itself, and for all living things."

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A Washington, DC Public School


      "We believe that every child's learning ability, employment potential, and cultural interests are enriched by achieving competency in a language beyond his/her own, in a classroom where children from various cultures learn and share together... We believe that the bilingual program at Oyster must provide an environment in which all students are afforded the opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills that will enable them to succeed both as individuals and members of society. We believe that racial and ethnic richness and diversity form the bases through which we enrich and promote the goals of building a culturally pluralistic society.

      "To this end, we, the Oyster school staff, are committed to provide a comprehensive bilingual program in an atmosphere that is open, concerned, and responsive to the needs of both the students and the community. We are also committed to the establishment of practices and programs that will ensure the intellectual, physical, emotional, and aesthetic well being of all the students at Oyster Bilingual Elementary School."

  • Address: 2801 Calvert Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
  • Tel. (202) 671-3111
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A Public Senior High School of Washington, DC


      "School Without Walls" ('SWW' or 'Walls') is a non-traditional high school established in March of 1971. Modeled after the successful Parkway Program in the School District of Philadelphia, SWW is currently located on the campus of George Washington University at 2130 G Street, NW. School Without Walls provides a quality student-centered environment that maximizes integrative, interactive, experiential learning within the framework of a humanities approach. This is achieved by using the 'city as a classroom' and the school as a model of collaboration among staff, students, and parents.

      "'The rigor of our program has produced students who have attained perfect SAT scores, and students who have been recognized by both the National Merit Scholars and the National Achievement Scholars Programs. The school has been ranked by Newsweek Magazine as one of the top high schools in the nation. Academic success such as this is not by coincidence. It is only through dedication, work and commitment that this legacy of academic achievement will continue and the power of the Penguins will prevail.'"   - Sheila Mills Harris, Principal

  • Address: 2130 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
  • Tel. (202) 724-4889
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A Public Charter School of Washington, DC


UPDATED! Tuesday, July 29, 2008; first posted Monday, February 11, 2008
      "The Washington Latin Public Charter School is like no other in the District of Columbia, and I hope that after perusing our website you will be inspired to come and visit us to see the school in action. Our dedicated faculty and staff offer a demanding, classical, literature-based curriculum. We balance our high expectations within the context of a nurturing and supportive community that values the contributions from each student. We prepare the students entrusted to our care for success in college and beyond and work to instill in them a love of learning.

      "As a public charter school, we are committed to offering this excellent classical education to students from throughout the city. All of our students will study Latin and either Chinese or French in addition to English, world history, mathematics, and science. They will also learn to make good use of technology. In addition, the school is committed to exposing students to the many opportunities so abundant in our nationÕs capital.

      "Intellectual curiosity, self-motivation, personal discipline, and a strong work ethic characterize the students most likely to be successful at Washington Latin. Families that work in partnership with the school and are equally committed to the values and standards we espouse will find a community they can enjoy sharing with their child."   - From the Introduction by Martha C. Cutts, Head of School

  • Address: 3855 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016
  • Tel. (202) 223-1111
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Around the Globe...

Niigata, Japan


NEW! Posted Monday, February 18, 2008
      "From our vantage point in the heart of Asia, we offer a unique perspective of the world in a lively global setting. Our culturally diverse campus, coupled with our location and our insight of Asia, will enrich your educational experience."
      The University's programs are taught in English, and include a graduate level peaces studies program.
      From the message of Chairman Yotaro Kobayashi:   "When the International University of Japan was founded in 1982, its mission was to develop future leaders with a high level of specialized theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as understanding and empathy toward the worldÕs variety of cultures, enhancing their ability to contribute to the global society.
      "In the 25 years that have passed, more than 2,000 global leaders from about 100 countries have come from our Graduate Schools of International Relations and International Management. On our campus, we have built a unique and global intellectual community, unsurpassed in the world. About 300 students from 50 countries live in the dormitories, study and research together with our faculty.
      "In addition, we have developed a rich educational infrastructure to accommodate the information society, and have a strong relationship with the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM), which, as a leader in the research into information society, stresses 'Chigyo,' the study of knowledge."

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Baltimore, Maryland, USA

      Ten years of periodic prayer and retreat, in response to world needs during the era of World War II, preceded the emergence of Koinonia Foundation into working reality in 1951. ("Koinonia," a term used often by the early church, is a Greek word for "community.") The Foundation acquired a 44-acre estate in the Green Spring Valley north of Baltimore, and soon launched a program, and community life, featuring retreat, study, spiritual community - and training to take literacy, agriculture, health, and similar practical skills into the undeveloped world. Much of the Peace Corps' program was modeled after Koinonia's. The community's center of gravity was nonsectarian Christianity, with strong Quaker influences.

      Koinonia's life had two phases. The first, lasting from 1950 to 1970, featured the philosopy, purpose, and programs of the founders. The second phase included a shift from the original orientation to "New Age" and wholistic activities and "the alternate semester." During this time many of the community's original members and friends continued to engage the place as a center of prayer, study, and retreat.

      The community had a multigenerational resident population, with several resident staffers / instructors living there over its entire life, and a total population of up to about eighty people at any given time. (Short-term retreatants and students, and some renters, were included in the foundation.) This diverse group - typically ranging in age from conception to the mid-80s - was one of Koinonia's great strengths.

      Koinonia closed its doors in 1985, but many of its people continue in roles of spirit, learning, and leadership around the country, and around the world. The Foundation continues as a small grant-writing organization to the present day.

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Hershey, Pennsylvania


      "At Milton Hershey School, we believe that all students can be successful. . . The mission of Milton Hershey School remains true to the ideals upon which it was founded more than 90 years ago: In keeping with Milton and Catherine Hershey's Deed of Trust, Milton Hershey School nurtures and educates children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

      "Today, Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income, limited resources, and social need. The School is funded by a trust established by Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine. Milton Hershey School offers a positive, structured home life year-round and an excellent pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education. Our vision focuses on building character and providing children with the skills necessary to be successful in all aspects of life."

      The school currently enrolls about 1400 students.

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A Joint Intentional Jewish-Israeli Palestinian Arab Village in Israel

      "(ne-'vˇ shal-'om / 'wah-at i-sal-'am: Hebrew and Arabic for Oasis of Peace [Isaiah 32:18]):

      "Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (pronounced nevey shalom/wahat as-salaam) is a cooperative village of Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship, engaged in educational work for peace, equality and understanding between the two peoples. Situated equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam was founded in 1972 on 100 acres of land leased from the adjacent Latrun Monastery. In 1977 the first family came to reside here. Now, in the year 2001, 40 families are settled in the village, and another 10 families are in the process of building their homes.

      The members of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam are demonstrating the possibility of coexistence between Jews and Palestinians by developing a community based on mutual acceptance, respect and cooperation. Democratically governed and owned by its members, the community is not affiliated with any political party or movement. Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam gives practical expression to its vision through its various branches."

The community includes:

  • The Village
  • Primary School
  • School for Peace
  • Pluralistic Spiritual Center
  • Hotel

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Beppu, Japan

A New International University

      Late in 1999 Geotrees learned of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, a new international university in Beppu, Japan.  This school embodies, in higher education, many of the principles and approaches of the Village Academy.

      "APU is a new international institution with students coming from over fifty countries.  The campus will become a multi-cultural community where students will deepen their mutual understanding through living and studying together.

      "Ritsumeikan will pursue the creation of universal values based on academic freedom and search for solutions to the pressing issues facing humankind, with its educational endeavors based on its founding spirit and educational ideals, bearing in mind 'to believe in the future, to live for the future.'

      "Recognizing the importance of international exchanges, Ritsumeikan University has actively pursued building academic ties with universities and educational/research institutes around the world. Today, Ritsumeikan maintains a cooperative relationship with 248 universities and educational/research institutes in 47 countries and regions around the world (as of August 30, 2006)."

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Yokohama, Japan

With the article "Growing Up International" by Francis Tanabe
www.sjcalumni.com, main alumni site

      Even among international schools, St. Joe's stood out. A small (up to 450 students, K-12) Catholic school in Yokohama, Japan, the school was blessed with a faculty with a deep love of their Lord, of learning, of the potential for excellence latent within everyone, and of their students. Many served at the school for decades. Faculty and students alike came from around the world.

      Students brought a full range of interests and activities to the life of the school. Some were hardly angels. As one alumnus put it, central to the greatness of the school is the fact that "They never gave up on us."

      The evocative Washington Post piece "Growing Up International" by Francis Tanabe vividly communicates the flavor of attending this international school for twelve years, from childhood to young manhood. Highly recommended. Mr. Tanabe is a fellow alumnus of St. Joseph College.

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Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan


NEW! Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008
      "UNU fosters an environment for the acquisition, advancement and dissemination of policy-relevant knowledge in a spirit of scholarly and critical inquiry for the purpose of enhancing the security, welfare and quality of human life. Through research and capacity-building via a global network of scholars and institutions, UNU distinguishes itself both from other UN organisations and from other universities.
      "The mission of the Peace and Governance Programme is to contribute to the promotion of sustainable peace and good governance. The Programme organizes and supports research that produces policy-oriented recommendations for current problems, and also that which identifies longer-term trends and patterns in international politics that hold implications for peace, security and governance. The Programme is also committed to the training and capacity-building needs that arise from this research activity.
      "This is a challenging agenda. . ."

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A Concept Proposal for an In-Depth International School, Grades 6-12
(Updated February 2, 2008)

      This is a description of the goals, the learning resources and philosophy, students, staff, community programs, and stakeholders for a school that does not yet exist, but one whose precursors do. Its mission is to be a center of intercultural, historical, and international learning both for its fulltime students, and for the surrounding communities; a crossroads for sharing the communication and knowledge that are preconditions to understanding, reconciliation, transformation and peace. We imagine a number of such schools sited in crossroads cities around the planet. This proposal includes learning activities that can be incorporated into existing schools.

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...and Seed Organizations

Alexandria, Virginia, USA


NEW! Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008
      ŅThe best education for the best is the best education for all.Ó   - Robert Maynard Hutchins
      "Cambridge Advisory is a full service consultancy ready and able to assist school boards, educational leaders and ordinary citizens in providing world-class educational opportunities to students throughout the United States and beyond. Our wide-ranging experience in traditional public, charter and independent schools includes successful new-school startups and a range of specialized projects to audit and improve existing schools.
      "Cambridge consultants are among the nationÕs finest scholars, teachers, educational leaders and public policy experts. In partnership with our clients, we strive to fortify academic programs, strengthen professional development and enhance capacity for benchmarking, assessment and student support. Our aim is to help schools help students become informed citizens and leaders in the highly competitive global economy.
      "The Cambridge Core is a comprehensive academic program that combines classics and 'great books' literature-based learning with a state-of-the-art sequence in S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)."

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This Page is a Draft, a Work in Progress.

      Do you know of any such schools, past or present, anywhere in the world? Do you have questions or suggestions? Would you like to connect with other potential stakeholders in such schools? We welcome your ideas, responses, comments, and any experience you may have had in international and intercultural schools.

      We also welcome any similar essays or proposals of your own, and anticipate posting these on this page as they come in. They may include grant proposals, university theses, curriculum plans, teaching materials, or similar work. We look forward to them.

      We also welcome any web pages, mailing lists, organizations, conferences, workshops, etc. devoted to international and intercultural education.  Please include them, as well.

      We welcome your comments, contributions and suggestions. Email us at anjinsan@geotrees. com.

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