Education without Walls (EWoW) sprung from a desire to create an educational environment that was inclusive and community-oriented for all area homeschoolers who wished to participate, regardless of socio-economic status, personal friendships, or any other drama that can often permeate the homeschooling world.
In 2010, EWoW founder, Lockey Coughlin was a highly motivated homeschooling mom. Her three children, who were 12, 10, and 8 years old, had incredible extracurricular opportunities but had outgrown the traditional homeschool cooperative model, academically. Lockey, like any parent, wanted to give her children the best education possible. This is exactly what she set out to do when she began her own educational cooperative simply titled The Monday Co-op. This cooperative ran one day per week out of a building on the Great Hollow nature preserve, combining the traditional model - where parents are the teachers - with a professional, carefully curated staff of paid instructors and mentors.
The location at Great Hollow allowed families to send their children to a myriad of educational programs run through the nature preserve as well as to participate in The Monday Co-op. This collaboration between programs was organic, serendipitous, and incredibly successful. A small, but tight knit community of children from ages eight to eighteen flourished. Participating families split the cost of both the space and the professional instructors. Classes were diverse and wholly based on student interest. They included fencing, plant identification, novel writing, deep dives into Leonardo DaVinci, Tim Burton, and fashion design and creation.
The program ran in this manner until the spring of 2012, when the nature preserve was sold and their collaboration and space were lost. Lockey then chose downtown New Milford as the place to continue her one-day-per-week program, again, simply titled, Fridays in New Milford. Lockey knew she had stumbled upon something extraordinary at the nature preserve and, so, reinvigorated her collaborative education model by borrowing space from the Public Library and holding classes in conjunction with local specialty schools. EWoW has maintained this community campus model ever since. As the program grew, it earned the name Education without Walls (EWoW) as a reference to the number of different spaces in which classes were held. By the end of the 2012/13 academic year, Lockey was haphazardly running classes in several borrowed spaces three days per week. A permanent space was sorely needed. So, she decided to rent her own space in downtown New Milford, at which point she officially took on the role as Founder and Program Director. She began to compile a staff of almost entirely professional contractual educators, still employing the group cost-splitting method.
Lockey remained committed to providing as much flexibility as possible for participating families. Students could take just one class, a full high school course load, or any iteration in between. Parents and students were encouraged to request any classes they found interesting and Lockey coordinated those efforts. However, as the program naturally grew from three to five days per week, it became clear that these students benefited most from a deeply integrated, cross curricular education, which could only be achieved through a more structured program.
In late 2017, Lockey decided to register EWoW as an LLC and begin operations as a full fledged educational resource sharing facility of which she was the head coordinator. This allowed her to hire teachers as employees, rather than contractors, and begin to build the fully integrated curriculum we now offer. During this time, EWoW also began a partnership with North Atlantic Regional High School affording students the opportunity to receive accredited transcripts and diplomas for their work at EWoW.
EWoW quickly outgrew the rental space and in September 2019, our current location at 65 Bridge Street was purchased. Our most recent partnership began in the Summer of 2020 with the High School Academy program, which offers fully accredited classes for college credit. In this way, highly motivated students can receive dual enrollment from both EWoW, and the Academy and get a head start on their college credits, without the stress of taking AP exams.
We are currently directly partnered with InnerAct LLC, The Pratt Nature Center, and The Village Center for the Arts and indirectly partnered with several other local specialty schools to give our students the fullest and most diverse education possible. Through our many iterations, we have maintained the notion that our students will excel with the curation of flexible, highly individualized, and student-driven educational opportunities.