What Others Say About Woolman

“Thank you for your vision and work with our students! You are giving them a powerful transformative experience, and we are thrilled to be in partnership. Woolman is a precious and important resource in our work with Oakland's teenagers.  Please let the rest of the staff know how much we appreciate the work you're doing and the opportunity you're making available to our kids.”

-Eve Gordon
Principal, MetWest High School

Students Say...

  • “If you like to speak with real people about real facts, this is the place for you. If not, tough luck, Amigo. We’re here to change the world!”

  • “The reason many kids don’t choose to be involved in issues is they don't feel they can make a difference. But through Woolman, you see how you can make a difference. Woolman gives you the skills to go out in the world and make it happen.”

  • “Woolman helped remove the blinders from my life. A new world has opened up for me.”

  • “I believe Woolman helps you to be more of who you really are.”

  • “Woolman gave me the power to deal with my problems instead of just distracting myself so I didn’t have to see them.”

  • “Woolman gave me more of a purpose, and a strong feeling of what I wanted.”

  • “I come from a very hard school. [The Woolman Semester] is rigorous on another level, it’s not about busy work the way a lot of high schools are. We read amazing authors and we have discussions, in-depth conversations, instead of just filling out pointless answer sheets. So, we have tons of reading every night and we're constantly busy, but at the same time, it’s so much more rewarding than my public school experience.”

Parents Say...

  • "Graduation was amazing and very moving and we all feel blessed and thankful for the loving care and fantastic education and sense of community given to these kids. We can't thank you enough!"

  • "The Woolman Semester encourages critical evaluation of controversial topics-not just taking the 'party line', but actually checking the resources and developing an individual approach."

  • "Woolman is a place where the individual is honored and becomes a part of a greater community. The learning is rigorous, yet the students receive support for their ideas and contributions and learn that their learning is truly up to themselves. There is a deep compassion for learning there among all the residents and this is expressed with love and caring, each striving to walk the talk. Wonderful mentors, teachers, administrators and community."

  • "Our daughter is motivated to complete her high school studies and has taken on a larger work load. She is talking about different choices for college."

  • "We are grateful every day for Woolman and what it has meant for our daughter's life. She was already a great person with lots of strength. But clearly she has grown, matured, further developed and supported her worldview. Her self-confidence is now warmer and deeper and can help her to move through the world with conviction and grace.



In the Press...

Woolman Semester takes studies to Bay Area

BERKELEY - How do you build a culture of peace? Students and teachers from the Woolman Semester School, located in Nevada City, CA, travel to the Bay Area this week to find out.

A semester program for high school juniors, seniors, and gap year students, who hail from all over the country, the Woolman Semester School is the only semester program to explicitly teach peace. Peace Studies is one of the three core classes offered as part of the curriculum at Woolman. In this class students are asked to read and evaluate stories told in popular culture and examine how these common cultural narratives can contribute to a climate of violence.

“Throughout the class the students will learn how to step into the roles of culture-creators and tell a new kind of story, one of peace,” explains Peace Studies teacher Grace Oedel. That is what this week is all about. With the Bay Area as their classroom, the students are going to the sources of where culture is created. They are hearing from and working with various authors, songwriters, and journalists who are using words to represent voices and themes that are rarely heard in mainstream narratives. “It is exciting to see how story-telling in different forms can positively impact people,” says Environmental Studies teacher Jacob Holzberg-Pill. This week the students saw poetry slams, wrote songs, participated in workshops with writers such as political journalist Bob Burnett and Rachel Reynolds, author of Four Seasons for Charlotte*, and filmed mini documentaries about Berkeley. This type of experiential learning lies at the heart of Woolman’s education. It is a way for students to engage with the course material both inside and outside the classroom. Today they return to campus empowered to tell their own stories that will contribute to a culture of peace at Woolman and beyond, said the teachers.

The Woolman Semester School at the Sierra Friends Center is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the stewardship of diverse learning communities and educational programs, which weave together spirituality, peace, sustainability and social action.

*Editor's note: We incorrectly published that Rachel Reynolds is the author Four Seasons for Charlotte at the time of printing this article.


Spring Work Day 2013

Nevada City (April 15, 2013)- This Saturday, April 20th, students, staff, and community members of the Woolman Semester School support Earth Day by joining together for a day of work on the 230-acre campus. All are invited to come help out!

A semester program for high school juniors, seniors, and gap year students who hail from all over the country, Woolman offers the opportunity to learn first hand about social and environmental justice. Interacting with the land is a crucial component of their time spent at Woolman and has become an even larger part with the introduction of the Farm to Forest educational program in the spring of 2011.

The Farm to Forest program offers a new way of stewarding land. Instead of managing the garden, orchard, pasture, campus, and forest separately, all units are seen as part of the whole environment that we as individuals are constantly impacting with every choice we make. Now, the care for the land is not left to just the maintenance crew but is taught through the academics to the students as well. One of the main ways the students participate in caring for the land is through two-hour bi-weekly shared work crews.

This Saturday will demonstrate this new holistic approach to land stewardship. Similar to shared work there will be work crews in the garden, orchard, and in the forest. The forest crew this year has been working on an exciting new project that was started by the Environmental Studies teacher Jacob Holzberg-Pill.   

This past June Holzberg-Pill received the TogetherGreen Fellowship Grant from the National Audubon Society and Toyota to begin restoring an old mining ditch that circles Woolman’s property. The immediate goal is to create an active swale as well as a road that together will reduce erosion by increasing water recharge into the ground and encourage people to use the forest recreationally. The long-term project will ultimately restore the land damaged by mining.

On Saturday the forest crew will focus on removing Scotch Broom, an invasive species that has spread along the swale. “This day would not be possible without our partnership with the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, donations from the National Wildlife Federation, and the hard work of our local community members,” says Holzberg-Pill.