Ninety-five year old Dick Alexander's encyclopedic memory of his youthful experience as the son of the founder of the teacher instruction project, New College Community Experience of New College Branch of Columbia University's Teachers College, entertains and educates about this unique educational forum. From 1932-1935, Dr. Thomas Alexander outlined an experimental training program for teachers that involved five components:
1. Studying academics and writing a thesis
2. Incorporating workplace training into the academic schedule
3. Participating in a year's internship that involved teaching under supervision
4. Studying abroad and learning at least one foreign language
5. Spending at least one summer working and studying on the North Carolina farm
The “working on a farm” component of the program brought prospective teachers at New York's Columbia University to a working farm that was situated in the rural Cruso Community in the location of today's Springdale Country Club. Dr. Alexander deemed that his five-point instruction model would produce well-balanced, informed, and versatile teachers. The educational concept was Dr. Alexander's attempt to build an institution based on the liberal arts infused with a means of addressing the persistent problems of living.
This innovative approach to teacher training gave impetus to the formation of Springdale School (1937-1953) and High Valley Camp (1934-1961). Springdale School's focus was on providing a learning environment for middle and high school students with special needs in a year-round private boarding school. Teacher trainees directed instruction.
High Valley Camp arranged summer activities for both boarding and local children. New College staff and students afforded oversight to summertime physical and learning programs from June – August.
The Cruso Springdale location provided a setting for an experimental educational project unlike any instructional venture before or since. Bethel Rural Community Organization and videographer/editor, Douglas Chambers, captured the essence of the unique program with the 2015 DVD, From New College to Springdale. The DVD, individuals in BRCO, the videographer, and Dick Alexander received the Multi-Media Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians in 2016.
DVD Videographer and Editor: Douglas Chambers Productions - www.dougchambers.net
From New College to Springdale DVD
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Available Locally at
Blue Ridge Books
428 Hazelwood Ave, Waynesville, NC
From New College to Springdale DVD - Price $15.00 (price includes a $5.00 handling and shipping fee)
Cruso's Springdale location provided the setting for an experimental educational project unlike any instructional venture before or since.