North Star and LightHouse: Two School Alternatives Available on Either End of the Valley

By // June 18, 2015




After 13 years in Hadley, North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens packed it all up this week and moved to Sunderland.

“Hadley has been wonderful for us.” says North Star Executive Director, Ken Danford.  “The Russell Street School building has been an ideal location for us, and our program has nearly tripled in size over the last seven years in that building.”

The town of Hadley chose not to renew North Star’s lease earlier this year, and has unclear plans to reclaim the building for town use.

“Our new space is Sunderland is even better,” says Danford.  We did not think that another location could be more ideal for us, and we are thrilled to have found a space that suits our needs even more.”

Sunderland is gaining an internationally renown program, recently featured in Sir Ken Robinson’s new book, “Creative Schools.”  North Star is the flagship program for ten centers across North America, with an 11th opening in September just 45 minutes down the road in Holyoke.

After 12 years as North Star’s Program Director, Catherine Gobron has given her notice at North Star and is opening an affiliate program in the Innovation District of Holyoke with Co-Director Josiah Litant.

“We’re launching LightHouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke this September because we know there are many teens in the area who will benefit from an alternative, but that’s true anywhere.  A traditional school setting is not right for every learner, no matter what city you’re in,” says Gobron.

“We’re especially excited about Holyoke because there is a renaissance happening here.  We’re seeing the whole Innovation District as our campus.  We’re thrilled to dial-in to all the great stuff that’s already happening, and multiply the opportunities for our students.”

LightHouse will offer alternative education to teens aged 13-18, focusing on optional pathways of entrepreneurship, arts, tech, and college prep.  Like North Star, LightHouse offers teens the opportunity to direct their own learning, and to study their own interests in a supportive, academic, and creative community.

Now students in both Hampshire and Hampden counties have access to personalized learning and a nontraditional approach to education.

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