As the teacher of Science and Career, Jonathan Barney is deeply committed to the success of his students at White River Academy. When asked why students find his teaching style particularly helpful for their life ahead, Jonathan told us how he provides contextual insight and real-world experiences.
Before coming to White River Academy, Jonathan worked as an accountant and chief financial officer of a residential treatment center start-up in Utah. However, much of his experience comes from working with troubled youth and people with disabilities.
"Teaching was an opportunity to provide a positive influence to our next generation," said Jonathan. "Education must be a combination of the students' own interests and a teacher's intuition. These two forces shape the goal line for academic progress that is both student-driven and success-oriented."
Talking about his philosophy when interacting with students, Jonathan admitted to bringing some corporate philosophy to the table at WRA. He believes in placing the responsibility in the students' hands to fulfill their roles. This is Jonathan's way of working concurrently with the Developmental Vacation Model - an important element of the treatment program at WRA.
The developmental vacation treatment model is a relationship-based model providing a description of adolescents' refusal to accept responsibility, avoidance of certain psychological tasks that foster their identity, and lack of participation in the life tasks they need to learn, grow and mature. It provides parents and professionals with a unique and completely "out of the box'' approach for conceptualizing and understanding teen behavior.
Jonathan, however, does not hesitate to provide options for building dreams in academic futures. For example, he periodically takes students to a college campus.He wants the students to be fully aware of their opportunities and the avenues available to them so they can make informed, rational decisions about their future.
For Jonathan, the highlight of his work at WRA is to see students who came in struggling and hopeless transform into distinct individuals who ask questions and think critically about elements impacting society, politics, science and other important areas of life. The most rewarding moment is when a student reaches back to Jonathan to let him know how his teaching and counseling helped him in life.
Professionally, Jonathan would like to host a learning program teaching Permaculture with an agro-forestry farm. Personally, Jonathan aims to spend more time experiencing life.
Outside work, therefore, Jonathan prioritizes his time for his wife and three children, who make up a family that stands together on five main principals: zero waste, living naturally, plenty of family time, financial independence and healthy habits. These philosophies are well ingrained in their lives.
Jonathan's few words for his team and students: "Listen to a differing opinion. Brainstorming makes organizations dynamic."