HELPING SMALL SCHOOLS
Helping small schools stay true to core values while adopting 21st century best practices.
Leadership and faculty of small independent schools work hard to enrich the lives of students while meeting diverse challenges. Resources are usually scarce - and time is often the most precious commodity. Dr. Kent Bicknell knows small schools from every phase - founding/growing/sustaining - and is committed to helping schools chart new ways to success for all involved.
Kent has worked with educational organizations for over 50 years. He served as founding head of Sant Bani School in Sanbornton, NH from 1973 through 2017. At the same time Kent consulted with schools across the U.S. and in Canada, India, Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala and Bhutan. He has served on 15 accreditation team visits for the NEASC, including several as chair, and has been a member of the New Hampshire Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Council for Independent Schools for over 40 years. In Kent’s six years as a Commissioner on the NEASC’s Commission on Independent Schools, Kent evaluated material for over 75 independent schools.
Kent is particularly well positioned to help small schools in the following areas:
Consulting for Schools/Heads/Staff/Boards
Heads - coaching/communication/decision-making
Schools - snapshot/overview of community & culture (in harmony with accreditation processes)
Strategic planning including mission, identity statements and core values
Founding and maintaining schools
21st century education for the whole child
DRAWDOWN Schools - Helping schools assess where they are in terms of sustainability and what steps they might take
Based on the principles of DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (www.drawdown.org)
Transition/Change for Today & Tomorrow
Michael Brosnan - Editor of Independent School Magazine from 1887-2017
While Kent — an educator, scholar, and founding head of school — sets out to document the early years of this purpose-driven school, he has also managed to reflect on what we need from schools today. In this regard, Stepping Stones: The First Five Years of Sant Bani School (1973-1978), offers both the early history of a unique and noteworthy school and valuable insights in what carefully constructed education for the mind, body, and spirit can look like… What fascinates me is the way in which, from the beginning, Sant Bani School was able to anticipate both what brain science now tells us about how we learn best and what schools everywhere are embracing in the name of 21st century education. From the start, Sant Bani focused on curricular approaches that are currently gaining attention everywhere: project-based learning, integrated curriculum, entrepreneurship, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, mindfulness, self-directed learning, community service, demonstration of learning, and a large dose of outdoor education.
Thakur S Powdyel - President, Royal Thimphu College and Former Minister of Education for Royal Government of Bhutan
I was looking for “My Green School” ever since we launched the Educating for Gross National Happiness programme in Bhutan in 2009. Across the seven seas, in a little town in New Hampshire in the United States of America, there already was a living example of “My Green School,” complete with its eight cardinal elements*, and more, that addressed the essential claims on teaching and learning, many years before we set out to reclaim the core function of Education otherwise called the Noble Sector. A school is indeed more than bricks and mortar, more than steel and structure. It is a vision, a dream, a prayer. Sant Bani School embodies and radiates the light that informs and guides a mission dedicated to making the society a better place, the life of children and youth more beautiful and fulfilling. And, that is the purpose of education – to make the world a better place. Sant Bani School, starting with six, is six million and many times over. It is a gift, rare and special. From Stepping Stones to giant strides, indeed! Meeting and sharing many precious moments with a kindred soul in Dr Kent Bicknell has been a most rewarding experience for me. I found in him an educator who understands the need to sharpen brains and skills as well as the imperative to build faith and character. Little wonder, he set out to harmonize them and add grace to these aspirations in a dream-school called Sant Bani. Thank you, Dr Bicknell.
Laurie Hurd - Executive Director of the Independent Schools Association of Northern New England (ISANNE)
Independent schools are unique communities growing from the seeds of a founding vision. As schools age, they find creative ways to stay connected with this vision to help maintain a “living” history. While older schools must rely on resources such as archives, younger schools are fortunate to have the advantage of access to people who were involved from the beginning. Stepping Stones: The First Five Years of Sant Bani School (1973-1978), is the story of a young school's founding and steady development written from the perspective of its original head, Kent Bicknell, who guided the school for 44 years. We see the way the building blocks are added to form a strong community. We also learn how a committed team of faculty, parents and students developed a curriculum around the greater context of the school's fundamental philosophy which includes the value of lifelong learning and service to others. At the same time, we witness the incremental development of a great educator. The school gaining positive traction parallels the growth and confidence of the head who embodies and practices the school's founding principles. Stepping Stones is an engaging read that offers insight for educators seeking ways to innovate their curriculums and for those who are involved in the founding (or early stages) of a learning community.
Jay Stroud - Director of the Commission on Independent Schools (CIS) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Kent and Karen Bicknell helped found and build a school. Stepping Stones: The First Five Years of Sant Bani School (1973-1978) is a book about how that happened. It was – and is – a school built by faith, courage, dedication and a tremendous amount of hard work. Like the pilgrims they were, the founders of Sant Bani quite literally carved the school out of the wilderness, building the early buildings with their own hands using stone from the land. The school prospered and if you are fortunate enough to visit, you will see the remarkable vision brought to life. More fundamentally, this is a book about how any important human endeavor is accomplished. The early founders possessed to a remarkable degree the capacity to inspire in others the same qualities they brought to the school. Nothing of this magnitude is done alone. Nothing is accomplished without the capacity to instill in others a vision and a passion to serve…and a sense of belonging to a team doing essential work.
Deki Choden, Founding Principal, Early Learning Center/ELC High School, a premier K-12 independent school in Thimphu, Bhutan.
I met Dr. Kent Bicknell in 2011 when he visited Bhutan by invitation of our Minister of Education. Though separated by half the globe, it was immediately clear to both of us that there were many parallels between our two schools - one in Bhutan and the other in the USA. We continue to be in touch, and I always find Kent’s wisdom and support to be very helpful. While the founding of SBS preceded ELC by 25 years, I discovered much of current value in Kent’s book on the early years of SBS (Stepping Stones: The First Five Years of Sant Bani School) as it is filled with helpful observations for teachers everywhere. It is always inspiring to read what can be done if we keep children at the heart of schools. We at the ELC would love to have Kent come back soon to share more about humanistic education, service to all, and traits of 21st century education.
On Viewing a 2007 Film of Sant Bani School
Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
I finally got to watch the video about the School. It actually brought tears to my eyes. Such a beautiful vision, so masterfully executed, it was inspirational in a very good way. The children carried it: they seemed happy, engaged, and I was delighted to "hear" that intellectual rigor was very much a part of the approach. I also was happy to see the diversity of the group. Congratulations! You have somehow navigated this life to live your dreams, and there can be no greater achievement than that.
Paul Hawken – Environmentalist, Author DRAWDOWN, Blessed Unrest, The Ecology of Commerce
Watching the movie of Sant Bani School I wept. I felt such a sense of loss for my own childhood. It reminded me of the wholesale abandonment of our children in this world, and especially in much of this country. Maybe for the first time I understood what a school could be.