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The Greenhouse School: Rhodes Scholar Has Greenhouse School Connection

The Greenhouse School


Fall Festival was a Great Success

Thanks for coming in to take a peek inside “the place with the flags,” participating in our raffle and auction, kids’ room, face painting and other activities. Our silent auction was available online for the first time in our history, and we received many high bids.

Thanks to all the local artisans who donated handmade soaps, jewelry, pottery, sculpture and artwork. This event wouldn’t be possible without their help and the help of all the volunteers who spent the weekend with us.


Rhodes Scholar Has Greenhouse School Connection


“We always knew she was a star!” beams older sister and Greenhouse School Director, talking about Jessica Wamala, a former student and Salem resident, who was just awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Dan Welch, co-Director and Nambalirwa-Lugudde’s husband, adds with a wink, “As early childhood advocates and professionals, we take full credit. All kidding aside, it’s a phenomenal achievement, and of course it’s all hers. We’re just bursting with pride.” Wamala spent her early years at the small independent school before family circumstances caused her to move out of the area. The couple recalls those experiences fondly, including the time (“We have it on tape,” quips Nambalirwa-Lugudde) Wamala stole away to finish the more complicated work of an older school mate when he got up to go to the bathroom.


Wamala graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in May 2013, with majors in political science, Arab and Islamic studies, and global interdisciplinary studies. She is now pursuing a M.A. in political science at Villanova. She’s also done extensive work with Philadelphia’s homeless.

Committed to addressing social issues, Wamala has learned first-hand about diplomacy as a Rangel Scholar and political intern at the US Embassy Belgrade in Serbia and at the State Department Office’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship and leadership including the 2012 Harry S. Truman Scholarship and the Pamela Harriman Foreign Service Fellowship, and she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa –the National Honors Fraternity for Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She plans to do the M.Phil. in modern middle eastern studies at Oxford, in preparation for a career in the Foreign Service as a political officer.

The Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer, and are provided in partnership with the Second Century Founder, John McCall MacBain and other generous benefactors. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; the newest recipients elected will enter Oxford in October 2014. Mr. Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships, “the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.”

The 32 Rhodes Scholars chosen from the U.S. will join an international group of Scholars chosen from 14 other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the 32 Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 80 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, usually including several who have attended American colleges and universities but who are not U.S. citizens and who have applied through their home country.


With the most recent elections announced, 3,324 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 316 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 487 American women have now won the coveted scholarship. Over 1,900 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, applicants must be endorsed by their college or university. This year approximately 1750 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 857 were endorsed by 327 different colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview.

“Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes,” Gerson said. “These criteria are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership,
and physical vigor. These basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an important and positive contribution throughout the world. In Rhodes’ words, his Scholars should ‘esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.’”


Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are legally resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23 in cities across the country. Each district committee made a final selection of two Rhodes Scholars from the candidates of the state or states within the district. Two-hundred eight applicants from 91 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition.

As for the connection to the Greenhouse School, Welch and Nambalirwa-Lugudde have a more practical agenda. “True, it’s all reflected glory,” says Welch, “but we really like our kids to see what they can aim for. It sets a pretty high bar! And of course we can’t help being proud of the fact that she learned to read and write and add here.” Then, with a grin, he adds, “I mean, even Villanova only has three, so we’re not far behind!”

the greenhouse school is a year-round private alternative school in Salem, Massachusetts, for kids from infancy through grade eight, the greenhouse school is committed to true, lasting, comprehensive reform in education. However, also central to the idea of reform for us is the notion of access.

Open every day and year round, we strive to serve the broadest possible base from several nearby communities, providing an environment diverse in language, culture, class, race and learning style.

Take a tour of our school…

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145 Loring Avenue, Salem, Massachusetts 01970

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