Viherlaakso, or Viheri, as we also call our school, is one of the largest and also the oldest Upper Secondary School founded in Espoo. Despite the age, our school is still modern, innovative and young in terms of spirit, pedagogy and methods of teaching. There are currently about 500 students studying in Viherlaakso and the school is still growing during the next few years.
At our school students set themselves realistic, yet challenging goals, plan their studies for a full school year and do their best to achieve their goals. The student life is a balanced mixture consisting of hobbies, social life and academic work. All this builds up to create a great future for the students. At the beginning the most important thing is to learn good study techniques and habits. That means focused, intensive studying on a daily basis both at school and at home.
At the start of studies, pupils will be introduced thoroughly to the studying culture at the upper secondary school. For example, rules and studying techniques in different subjects and the laptop skills in digital learning environment are vital in modern study culture.
Second and third year students make their own schedules based on the choices of the made subjects. In Finland the upper secondary school syllabus includes at least 75 courses. One course lasts seven weeks and each week includes three 75-minute lessons. Courses are offered in three different types: compulsory courses, advanced courses and school-based applied courses. The students have to study 47–52 compulsory courses depending on the number of languages in their syllabus and the level of math they are studying.
During the third school year, the students will be studying courses for the matriculation examination and they will have at least four tests in the examinations.
Viherlaakso High Values
Viherlaakso High is steered as a school by the values defined by the Espoo City Council. These values are
1. customer and citizen-orientedness
2. tolerance and equality
3. creativity and innovativeness
4. partnership and community spirit
5. getting results and having a long-lasting effect
6. sustainable development.
Viherlaakso High Values in Practice
Sustainable values are the basis of all education. At Viherlaakso High, we consider the meaning of the school in regards to the student’s personality growth; our practices are evaluated and developed on this basis. Our goal for the student is to feel that they study meaningfully, both in regards to their educational and life management aims and values of their study results. The interaction between students and teachers as well as the teacher’s relationship with the student have a significant influence on the student’s psychical growth. Also, the students’ relationships with one another are important for good study results and thus, the practices at our school must promote good interactions and social relationships between the students.
Students are confident in their own abilities and appreciate themselves. Education and counseling are to help students to find their own academic path, potential new interests and intellectual resources. Students will be aware of their own cultural background. They tolerate diversity and respect other people’s beliefs and individuality.
The joy of work and responsibility
The student understands the meaning of work and appreciate it. The students can plan their studies and learn to make solutions that are meaningful for themselves and the community. They are active and capable for critical thinking. The students are aware of their actions and responsibilities for the group.
We pay special attention to the student’s communication skills, especially in languages, the means of expression and the media. Multilingual, as well as fluent in other ways of expression, the dominant student is also cooperative and willing for active interaction with others. The student’s personality is developing in a climate of open and direct interaction.
Courage and honesty
We try to increase positive attitudes towards life. Open discussion is one way to find new meanings in daily life and have the confidence to influence the future. Honesty and solving the everyday challenges strengthen the cohesion of the community and helps to continue the development, growth and prosperity.
Creativity is an important value at our school. The traditional definition of creativity is that creativity always brings out something new; a new problem, new solutions to solve the problems, a new perspective or product.
Creativity is rarely completely new and original; usually a creative solution is consolidated prior knowledge in a new way. Although a feature of creativity is thinking outside the box, exiting from the formulas and the property, creativity is also persisting processing of information.
We believe that every student can be creative and the creativity of each student can be developed. We think that creativity is a much broader feature. Creativity is an activity, enthusiasm for learning, the pleasure of its own success and performance, skills to solve problems which are both cognitive and social. Teaching from the perspective of creativity is above all supportive for the learning, development and the maturity of the student’s unique personality and identity.
Creativity is not something to be limited inside boundaries of a certain subject. The creative process is always the outcome of the analysis of knowledge, feelings and methods of studying.
The agreement for good studying
The students, teachers and parents share a vision of good learning.
Friendliness is good behavior such as greeting, participation, helpfulness, gratitude, obeying rules and guidelines during the school day. Each member of the community maintains and develops a common good spirit.
The teachers, staff and students treat each other equally and with respect. Every member of the school community is committed to work together.
The good quality of studying and teaching requires planning. All of those rules and schedules, work habits and study practices are planned and agreed together with the students at the beginning of the course. During the planning process they will also discuss what the students are waiting for the teacher in order to learn better and more. They will also discuss the role of a teacher: how can they learn better using different working methods and how is the teacher helping them to learn and understand.
Commitment, responsibility and results
The teacher and the students discuss also about the student’s obligations such as a commitment to study according to the plan and the responsibilities for the group. In this way, the student is expected to create a positive atmosphere in class. The student is also expected to know what means good learning in this certain course and the student’s commitment to study.
The compliance with the planning
The teachers are committed to intervene to poor studying. If the student does not study according to the rules, the student may be suspended.
There are also other staff members such as a nurse, a psychology and a social worker available for the specific problems.
History of the Upper Secondary School of Viherlaakso
The common perception of Espoo in the 30’s and 40’s was that it was a small Swedish speaking village on the countryside near Helsinki. In the year 1940 the number of inhabitants in Espoo was 11 540 and there was no Upper Secondary School for Finnish-speaking children in Espoo. Viheri was founded in 1939 and the first school building was built in 1947.
At this stage, state and local government was not able to meet the growing educational and training needs which were proven to be very clear in many localities. Fortunately there were enthusiastic and willing citizens to sacrifice their time and money to create private schools for those places where the need was obvious. Later the school was sold to the City of Espoo.
Viherlaakso Upper Secondary School
Mailing adress Principal: Jussi Rekilä
02070 ESPOON KAUPUNKI
tel. 050 542 5631
Principal: Jussi Rekilä
Kutojantie 2 D, 1st floor