Jowonio is a not-for-profit school serving young children with a wide range of abilities both in school and home-based programs. Jowonio began in 1969 as an alternative school for children whose families wanted a more open and individualized approach than they felt they could find in a public setting. The name Jowonio comes from the word in the Onondaga Indian language which means "to set free." The school’s founders chose this name because they believed that education should be freeing minds and emotions to learn and grow, freeing individuals from stereotypes and prejudices. yeah yeah yeah
From the beginning, Jowonio accepted a wide range of children. Since 1975, when special support was received from the N.Y.S. Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the school has operated as a planful inclusive educational program where typical children and children with special needs can learn in the same classrooms. Many of the staff have training and experience in both special education and early childhood or elementary education.
The school aims to provide an appropriate individualized program for each child. Jowonio's approach is based on the following beliefs:
- all children can grow and learn
- all children have a right to a quality education in the same setting
- children grow through their relationships with adults and peers
- parent involvement is welcome and needed; teachers and parents should be partners in devising a child's education
- "school" means more than academics; social and emotional growth must be nurtured as carefully as cognitive development, with the purpose of helping
children become caring human beings who feel good about themselves and others
- a quality classroom grows out of a balance of adult-provided structure with opportunities for children to explore, initiate, make choices, and problem solve about their world
- a planful environment, clear expectations, and positive models can help young children learn diverse and appropriate ways to interact with materials and people.
Jowonio accepts students irrespective of sex, race, creed, color, religion, national origin, or handicapping condition. Jowonio is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Mara Sapon-Shevin, a professor at Syracuse University's School of Education, wrote a poem after visiting Jowonio. This poem captures the essence of Jowonio and its students.