The employees of The New School of Montpelier (NSM) in Vermont have purchased the school from its founder and will be operating it as the state’s largest worker cooperative.
Founded in 2005 by Susan Kimmerly, the NSM serves students ages 6 – 22 with intensive disabilities; primarily children and young adults with autism, cognitive disabilities, and challenging behaviors, often related to trauma. The NSM provides a safe and encouraging environment for students to form relationships, develop trust, gain life skills and the social competencies necessary to become successful learners and contributing members of their communities.
The purchase of the business was finalized on March 30, 2015 , and financing for the deal was secured through a collaboration between the Cooperative Fund of New England, the Vermont Employee Ownership Center’s Vermont Employee Ownership Loan Fund, and the Vermont Economic Development Authority. Upon completion of the deal, the new employee owners celebrated with a gathering at the Montpelier Elks Club, for which Hunger Mountain Coop donated refreshments in honor of the sixth cooperative principle, “Cooperation Between Cooperatives.”
Reflecting on the conversion process, new employee owner Mary Creeden notes that it, “seems to have helped us build a new sense of community. Even when the Steering Committee was getting discouraged, the future employee owners encouraged us to keep going.”
According to another employee owner, Eric Weeber, the change “has stabilized the school’s future and staff retention has improved. It has also markedly broadened the staff’s perspectives about the school community.”
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