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Jacksonville’s Greenwood School Celebrates Differences

Walk into Diane Krug’s science classroom at Greenwood School and a tall, skinny student named Luke will be quick to jump up and give you a full tour of the room – from the three-legged iguana to the tortoise roaming freely around the floor.

Dr. Anthony Mortimer chats with students at Greenwood School where Mortimer says, "We celebrate differences."

What you won’t see is any sign that Luke was incredibly shy and unsocial at his previous school, said Greenwood Head of School Dr. Anthony Mortimer.

“He didn’t speak out because he was afraid people would find him weird,” Mortimer said. “We celebrate differences here.”

Luke is a senior at the private school in Jacksonville for middle and high school students who have different strengths and needs when it comes to learning. Since 1985, the school has served about 185 average- to above-average students each year who struggle with reading disabilities, memory deficits and other learning differences.

Parents drive their students each day from places as far away as Palm Coast for the special learning environment Greenwood School provides, Mortimer said. The school’s extremely low student-to-teacher ratio provides an environment where educators can tailor teaching methods to their students’ individual learning styles.

Incredibly, the result is that about two-thirds of Greenwood School graduates each year go directly into post-secondary education, including colleges, universities and trade schools. Greenwood School students participate in varsity athletics against traditional high schools and conduct in environmental research projects with students in college programs. In fact, the school’s students recently began successfully writing grant applications to help pay for their on-campus research projects.

Greenwood School is a partner in the Connectable campaign, an initiative launched last year by The Delores Barr Weaver Fund designed to help build awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual and developmental differences.