Charlotte “Candy” Landvoigt
I read Neill’s famous book when I was a Junior in College. I can still remember vividly where I was sitting as I read the life changing words. My husband and I later travelled to Summerhill in 1969. In 1981 we founded The Highland School, a democratic school inspired by Neill’s work. Over the years, in addition to working at our school, I became a play therapist in private practice. Through nondirective play therapy, I watched children bravely overcome many difficult problems on their own. After several years, one of our school staff learned about Sudbury Valley School and our entire school included many principles of the Sudbury philosophy - especially all democracy all the time. We decided to become an international boarding school with our own dormitory in 2004. I read Neill’s Summerhill again for more inspiration. I also studied John Dewey for my doctoral degree and wrote a dissertation on his concept of the child. Coincidentally, I first learned of Dewey from a Science teacher at Summerhill when we visited in 1969. Years later, his advice to trust children’s experience was fundamental in creating our school. Today we are unable to have our school due to Covid 19. We plan to reopen in the fall (2020) if the law allows. I have written a book about children’s rights and fully democratic schools that rests on the writing of A.S. Neill, John Dewey, Dan Greenberg, Paulo Freire and Virginia Mae Axline. It also leans heavily on my experiences over 40 years with children and members of The Highland School. My path through all the adventures in these years began with Neill’s Summerhill. His example and, in recent years Zoe Redhead’s practical vision for Summerhill, have enriched my journey in democratic education.