Preparing Learners for Life


A community of individuals committed to supporting students to become the people they hope to be


  • We focus on building relationships with students and families. We place an emphasis on building relationships first so that we can have the hard conversations when we need to, and to help young people learn resilience and how to maintain effort when things get hard.
  • We are patient. We focus on the long-term. This gives us lots of flexibility to develop student specific approaches and to adjust as needed.
  • We believe that behavior is everybody’s business. All staff are prepared to deliver positive behavior supports – content area teachers, special education teachers, and clinical staff - and we all help students who demonstrate behavioral difficulties. We do not have behavior interventionists or individuals whose sole job is to address behaviors.
  • We apply an approach we have described as “structured flexibility”. The school is organized around a framework for approaching students who struggle (all of our young people) that include predictable routines of interaction, the development of routines to manage changes in routines, and the integrated and conversational use of self-regulatory scripts. We use this framework to make necessary adjustments to meet the individual needs of each student.
  • We are a warm and welcoming place that embraces humor with everyone. We are serious about our work, but we do not take ourselves too seriously. This means we have fun each day. We laugh with students. We help young people learn healthy humor and fun.
  • We believe our job is to help young people to learn how to be good people, so we focus on social cognition, understanding and developing positive relationships, and self-advocacy. In addition, we help young people to learn key skills necessary to be successful in work settings including showing up on time, following your bosses’directions, getting along with your work peers, and working when you don’t feel like working.
  •  We have one rule: “non agre culus”. Translated from Latin this means “Do not be an asshole.” It is our only rule. The young people get it. Their families get it. You do not need a lot of other rules.
  • We combine rigorous academics in a classroom setting with experiential learning in the community and we have fun doing it. In addition to didactic classroom activities, our students ski and bike and skateboard to gain an applied understanding the laws of physics, they kayak and hike and clear brush to understand biology and earth science, they help out at Ronald McDonald House and the local animal shelter to learn empathy.
  • We have flexible pathways to earning credit. Our program is proficiency-based so we can be creative about methods of demonstrating mastery of the content needed to earn a diploma and we work with the student’s home district to help convert proficiencies to credits when needed.
  • We do not suspend students. We do not put our hands on young people. When something gets broken – whether it is a door, a glass, a dish, a wall, or the relationship with another person – the student who caused the break will repair it. Our approach is restorative and positive.
  • We feed our students. A lot. We have clothes when they, or a family member needs them, and a washer a dryer so they can wash their own clothes. We have a shower as well.
  • Many of our students struggle with drug use and addiction. We approach these difficulties using a progressive harm reduction approach. This means we work to help them identify the roots of their use and to figure out how to overcome the impulse to use.
  •  We spend hours training our staff in a variety of domains that are often not associated with school. Specific, and ongoing, trainings include trauma-informed supports, understanding mental health, helping students to learn self-control, creating learned optimism by avoiding learned helplessness, poverty and its effects on education, and Bayesian analysis and education program development and a host of other topics.

The Mill School is an approved Vermont independent school offering general and special education programs to middle school and high school students.


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