Q - I have heard of Deep Root Center, but what exactly is it?
A – Deep Root Center (DRC) is a small, safe learning community designed for any student (ages 5-19) who is dissatisfied with their current educational situation and is looking for a chance to create their own learning plans based on their interests and questions about the world. DRC is a completely non-coercive learning environment that provides a multitude of opportunities for group and individual classes, as well as space and time for independent study, hands on projects, nature study, and social interactions. Each youth has access to a mentoring session each week to discuss their progress as well as their ideas and goals for the future.
Q - Who is Deep Root Center for?
A - DRC is for young people who for one reason or another are dissatisfied with their current schooling experience and are bold enough to try to live their lives in a more empowered way.
In most Liberated Learner centers, the students tend to fall into one of a few wide categories. The first group are the Inspired. These are students who have passions and interests and want to pursue them, or they believe in the possibility of having passions and interests and they want to have a life that prioritizes meaningful learning. Young people like this tend to thrive in Liberated Learners settings with a relatively short transitional period.
Another type of child our centers tend to attract are struggling in some way or another. They’re oppositional, or anxious, depressed, bullied, ostracized, struggling academically, or managing some other challenges. Often they used to be an inspired type, but somewhere their light started to go out.
There are those who are somewhere in the middle- open to the possibility of being Inspired, but not really there yet. They are often doing fine in whatever academic environment they find themselves in, but while it may be easy enough, it doesn’t feel rewarding or meaningful. They suspect that there must be more to living than just getting through it, and they are ready to start now.
DRC also attracts those families who have always had an alternative mindset and are seeking a non-standardized, personalized education for their children where they can follow their interests and embrace their love of learning.
Q - Do DRC students go on to college?
A - Absolutely. In fact, we expect that all of our students will go on to further education, training, or inspiring work.
DRC teens will present a varied and compelling transcript of learning and experiences. Colleges are very familiar with nontraditional and portfolio based transcripts.
DRC students are able to audit classes at both SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam. By auditing one college class per semester (for a nominal fee) DRC students are gaining experience in a college classroom. These classes are included in their high school transcript.
Just as if a teen were to continue to attend traditional school, substantial work is required to prepare for college and to be accepted to competitive universities. However, pursuing your studies at Deep Root Center allows greater flexibility and freedom in what you study and how.
Using North Star as an example, not only do the vast majority of North Star teens go on to college, North Star has three alumni who are now university professors, and one who is a superintendent, in addition to hundreds of successful professionals.
Q - How does DRC work?
A – Deep Root Center student members leave public school to build their educational plan based on their interests and goals with guidance and support from DRC staff members. Homeschooling is the the legal mechanism to accomplish this.
The student’s family completes the application and financial agreement. It is important to note that Deep Root Center has an economically diverse population; we have never refused a student based on their family’s financial situation. Deep Root Scholarship aid is available to anyone who needs it.
The second step is to meet with the Executive Director to write the NYS required Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). This becomes the students personal learning plan.
Once that is completed, our members attend the Deep Root Center facility every M, T, Th, & F.
The Seedlings Program (5-9 year olds) offers children the gift of time to: learn, grow, experiment, work, play, and explore independent thoughts and interests, all the while questioning the world around them.
The older students (ages 10-19) participate in group or one-on-one classes, work on independent and hands-on projects, spend time outside, play music, create art, and socialize. In addition, our teens also have the opportunity to audit classes at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam.
Each older student has a mentor who meets with them once a week to talk about their progress as their interests and ideas evolve. Their mentor serves as a sounding board as well as a personal guide who makes proposals toward the student’s goals and objectives. The mentor can help to find internship and/or volunteer opportunities in the community. They also assist with college visits and the application process.
Q - How is Deep Root Center funded?
A – Deep Root Center is funded through tuition, grants, and philanthropic donations. We do not receive any funding from the State or Federal government. We do not receive subsidies and choose not participate in any school voucher programs. DRC has an annual tuition fee; however, offers substantial scholarship aid to 95% of our student members, totaling nearly 85,000.00 each year.
The staff and board are very proud to say, we have never refused a student because of their family’s inability to pay the full fee. With the community’s generous contributions, we are able to continue this tradition of supporting those young people who dare to choose a different educational path - one which truly reflects their interests and aspirations.
The Board also regularly seeks out competitive grant opportunities; we have been fortunate to receive a couple each year. We are looking to increase that number to make all of our programs sustainable.
Much of the work at Deep Root Center is provided by volunteers. We would not be able to do all we do without their generous gifts of time and talent.