Therapeutic Educational Programs Complement Classroom Academics

Green Chimneys School academics are complemented by age-appropriate, therapeutic educational programs offered to all grade levels as part of the weekly class schedule. Many incorporate Green Chimneys’ unique nature-based approach, providing experiential learning and opportunities to develop important skills related to the care of and interaction with animals, plants and the environment. High School students earn 1/4 elective credits for these courses.


The activity goals of the aquatics program are coordination, flexibility, stamina, cardiovascular strength, confidence, increased self-esteem and enjoyment of physical activity in water as a life-supporting skill. Course design encourages water safety, hygiene, healthy teamwork competition, cooperation and fair play. Students are taught swimming skills and develop communication skills as they learn to compete individually.


In art class, the creative process is supported through the teaching of artistic skills, color usage, and perspective, and the development of a personal point of view. Safety, discipline and proper tool and material usage characterize the type of class where self-expression is encouraged through the use of various artistic media. Units are designed to familiarize students with well-known artists, art movements and the role of art in society.

Equestrian Skills

The Green Chimneys Horse Barn operates on a trimester basis, offering students the opportunity for individual assistance and guided group interaction with equines in a small class setting. Interested students learn to work in harmony and kindness with an animal and benefit from the experience of an exciting physical sport. The goal of this elective is to teach students to recognize and practice how to put safety issues first around horses; recognize and provide for the needs and care of a horse; develop conscientious handling techniques for an animal larger than themselves; and acquire basic riding skills for recreational sport. Enhancement of social skills and appropriate behavior are encouraged through the exploration of how horses behave in general, relate to one another and mirror the human emotions around them.

Farm Science

The foundation for each unit in the curriculum is to understand animal behavior and the dependence of domesticated animals on humans for their most basic needs and survival, and learn to recognize the needs of each living creature. Using an interactive approach, students learn responsible animal stewardship. Farm Science is specifically designed to address the needs of diverse learners through a combination of inquiry-based classroom education, lab and hands-on activities. The core of this class places an emphasis on Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) and guided physical and intellectual discovery.

Students in this program are offered the opportunity to participate in the Companion Animal or Large Animal 4-H Fair competitions where they travel off-campus and work with participants from other Putnam County 4-H clubs. Green Chimneys 4-H Students develop enhanced understanding of the biological and environmental aspects of farm life, gain a sense of responsibility while caring for another living thing, and develop public speaking skills.


Through effective classroom activities, this course combines functional knowledge and health education social skills. Functional knowledge is presented in the context of potential risks and consequences of various health-related behaviors. Students consider how information and issues impact their own life, as well as the lives of those around them. Health education social skills include decision-making, communication, refusal skills, and relationship and self-management skills, with the goal of achieving health literacy.


An integrated approach to horticulture and gardening connects plants to human health and personal well-being and promotes social and life skills that enhance the personal development of students. The core of the horticulture curriculum revolves around plant anatomy, scientific aspects of plant propagation, the role of plants as human food and the significance of plants to human health and the environment. Students observe and vocationally support the plant life cycle from seed to harvest with a heavy focus on vegetables, herbs, and fruits. During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, the campus organic garden serves as an experiential learning site for this elective; classes move into the campus greenhouse during the winter months.


The Green Chimneys Library provides students with a venue in which they can become proficient in accessing and benefitting from the intellectual property of society through the use of books, magazines, videos, online access of information and other resources as they steer the course of research and inquiry. This course encourages self-expression, the development of interest areas and the use of research materials in support of other school-based courses and projects


  • In art class, the creative process is supported through the teaching of artistic skills, color usage, and perspective, & the development of a personal point of view.

  • Students develop essential skills in this class, with the goal of functioning effectively in a sophisticated technological & diverse learning & living environment.

  • The course encourages sanitation, health & hygiene, familiarity with culturally diverse foods and healthy eating.

Life Skills

The Life Skills class integrates reading skills, liquid and dry goods measurement, geography, and social studies, building on cooperative group skills that model proper etiquette and behavior in food preparation and dining environments. The course encourages sanitation, health and hygiene, familiarity with culturally diverse foods and healthy eating. Classes are held in a fully functioning teaching kitchen where students gain a working knowledge of the sanitary, safe and effective operation of everyday household appliances such as stoves, mixers, dishwashers and kitchen utensils and learn how to prepare and serve nutritious food in a home-like environment.


Music students learn that performance-based instruction is a productive form of self-expression and communication that can foster group cooperation, individual activity and outreach. Musical instruments and instruction are provided in class and concepts such as rhythm, musical notes and the structure of music and performance skills are practiced. This self-paced course adapts to the interests and choices of individual students while encouraging group cooperation, peer support and appreciation of individual talent.

Outdoor Education

The Outdoor Education curriculum is designed to promote creative thinking and a greater understanding of the world to instill a commitment to our individual and community responsibility of stewardship. Students learn and understand the basic ecological, sociological and cultural principles needed to be successful in meeting that commitment. The Green Chimneys historic farm property, fondly referred to as the Great Swamp, and the extensive forests and fields surrounding the campus provide a rich site for studying the human relationship to the environment. Outdoor spaces are explored as an environment for leisure activities such as hiking, kayaking, tower climbing and high ropes adventure, skiing, snowboarding, and camping. Students are introduced to complex decision-making related to ecological matters such as recycling after carefully weighing the impact of their actions on the environment, culture, and humanity.

Physical Education

The activity goals of Physical Education include coordination, flexibility, stamina, cardiovascular strength, confidence, and enjoyment of physical activity as a life-supporting skill. Course design promotes healthy competition, cooperation and fair play in a team framework, developing communication skills as well as learning to compete against oneself. Note: Students need to have rubber-soled sneakers.

Technology/Computer Lab

Students develop essential skills in this class, with the goal of functioning effectively in a sophisticated technological and diverse learning and living environment. Through guided exploration, students in this self-paced, highly supervised class learn how to access various computer-based program applications and the internet and increase typing and research skills through educational games and trial-and-error learning. Time spent practicing the usage of technology in the computer lab builds resourcefulness and self-confidence in written expression as skills are mastered. Students may access and continue work on their projects in a variety of settings by logging into their personal files located on the monitored school student server and accessible to students and staff in the Computer Lab, Classroom and Library.

Vocational Training

Vocational training and skill development is the foundation of this long-established campus “Learn and Earn” program. With the assistance of teachers and social workers, interested students voluntarily sign up for age-appropriate work assignments in various campus locations, including the Farm & Wildlife Center, dining hall, building offices, and Boni-Bel Farm & Country Store. Students work under the guidance and supervision of skill coaches on vocational task responsibilities that demand commitment and are designed to mirror those found in a community workplace. This highly sought-after program builds discipline, confidence, and life skills, and establishes the relationship between work (learn) and payment or reward (earn) for students. One half of the money earned through this program is placed into a savings account for each student to be disbursed upon their discharge from Green Chimneys School. Students may keep the other half of their earnings to spend on trips, during special occasions, or at home. The Vocational Counselor also educates and assists eligible students and their families in the process of obtaining working papers and can provide a letter of recommendation to students who are applying for part time jobs in their community.

Wildlife Science

By taking full advantage of the natural resources at Green Chimneys, the “Natural Connections” wildlife curriculum provides a direct experience with the outdoor environment that teaches stewardship for the environment as a whole. Through guided and unstructured learning, students develop “a sense of place” while exploring the rich local environment and learn that they are connected to other communities by natural systems. Students gain firsthand knowledge of the threats to wildlife as they learn about the effects of human actions on the many rescued animals living at our Wildlife Center. Students learn that the non-releasable animals on permanent display at the Wildlife Center are ambassadors for their species, promoting education, conservation and preservation. Assisting with wildlife rehabilitation is a powerful learning experience for the students at Green Chimneys.


Students receive integrated-approach instruction as they use measuring skills, reading, drafting of plans and math to develop a working knowledge about the properties of wood and the steps necessary to turn it into useful or decorative objects. Safety, patience, following directions and group cooperation are the key area skills acquired in this class. Woodshop offers students a chance to practice hand-eye coordination, teaches competence in safe tool usage, and enhances self-confidence through self-expression and the completion of long-term projects.

Green Chimneys guinea pig


With the completion of an elaborate new habitat built by Green Chimneys’ woodshop students, the Farm Science classroom was able to welcome Brownie into her new home. Brownie previously lived alone in her cage in the farm and wildlife office, but guinea pigs do best in larger environments. The new habitat allows her to live in a herd as she would in the wild, with many places to hide and ways to practice her skills. Brownie has always been a social creature, and she has taken over the guinea pig herd but is a very peaceful leader.