Another month has drawn to a close and, in spite of us only being on campus for three full weeks in February, this past month has felt just as full of activity as any other.
Between the action surrounding the RTS Post Office in the Imagination Room, the spirited energy that came with the highly anticipated Hart Dance, all in addition to the active engagement with our regular offerings, this February will likely be remembered as one of the most fun months of the year for our learning community.
In the rest of this letter you will find calendar items for March, reflections, and photos from February, and a parent education piece about radical spaces for learning around the globe.
Looking Towards March
Monday, March 13th: RTS is Closed/ Staff In-Service Day
Friday, March 24th: 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm Parent Maker Night
Parents and caregivers are invited to join the RTS Mentors for an evening of socializing and making things at Rock Tree Sky.
Mentors will offer various activities for folks to choose from throughout the evening.
Folks are asked to bring an hors d'oeuvre to share potluck style.
Childcare will be provided in the form of a facilitated movie screening in Hartmann Hall.
It will not be a plan for children to join in the offerings.
We are requesting that folks sign-up ahead of time so that we might have a sense of how many folks to expect. Please use this link to sign-up for Parent Maker Night.
Reflections on February
As I previously mentioned, February was an action-packed month at Rock Tree Sky.
The action began with opening the seasonal Rock Tree Sky Post Office.
Every February, the Imagination Room becomes a fully functioning post office/letter and card-making studio. This month, learners of all ages flocked to the scene to decorate their personalized mail collection envelopes. As the month progressed, Chrissy and Ella found themselves rearranging furniture to accommodate the ever growing collection of large manilla envelopes that soon took over one whole wall of the Imagination Room.
Once learners pinned their envelopes to the wall, they got busy decorating cards and writing messages to sneakily deliver to friends' PO envelopes.
What was perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of the RTS Post Office offering was the care that learners took to ensure that no one's envelope was left empty. There were many occasions on which I heard a young learner say, "this person doesn't have anything in their envelope so I'm going to make a card for them". This is evidence that not only does the annual RTS Post Office offering support learners with developing their literacy skills, but it also promotes one of our essential Rock Tree Sky agreements- taking care of others.
The other high point from the month of February was the wildly successful, and fabulously fun, Hart Dance. After months of planning and fundraising, the Rock Tree Sky Party Planning Committee impressed us all with an evening of music and dancing in Hartmann Hall.
Those in attendance enjoyed live music from Sanctus Fairbanks, the RTS band in residence, Monsta FUB, an electronic track produced by April McDermont, and dance music from RTS parent and DJ, Shylah Ray Sunshine.
All in attendance would agree the evening was a smash! With the help of dedicated learners and some parent volunteers, Hartmann Hall was transformed into a Valentine's Wonderland full of handmade decorations, colorful balloons, and sweet snacks.
We must offer a big THANK YOU to Vera and the party planning committee; Sasha Garrison, Mooniyaa Sunshine, Agnes Montgomery, and the others who helped to make this dream a reality.
Other highlights from the month of February included lots of fun playing in the lower field during one week of warmer weather and sunshine. Kids enjoyed playing parachute games, exploring wildlife, and playing jump rope with a long piece of a fallen vine.
In the cooking program, learners enjoyed some guest chefs this month including RTS parent David Hurwith who taught children how to bake a traditional apple pie and RTS Parent Sherra Mahoney who taught learners how to make kimchi.
Learners in the Imagination Room also enjoyed baking a loaf of Sun Bread on a cloudy day.
One additional unique offering in the month of February was when we were visited by RTS Parent Shine Rilling who offered a Peace Sticks ceremony in honor of his son and RTS learner, Alaeika's, birthday. Many kids enjoyed playing with the peace sticks. We might just have to make our own set to keep on campus!
A final exciting announcement from Farmer Kelly is that construction of our campus hoop house is finally complete! Thank you to the parent volunteers who helped us to see this project to completion, and a big big thank you to our Upper Ojai neighbor, Farmer Richard, without whom, this project wouldn't have been possible.
We are so excited to put this hoop house to use this spring and will be delighted to share the yummy produce that we will be able to grow!
We're looking forward to seeing what March has in store...
For now, please enjoy these photos from February.
Parent Education: This revolution will not be schooled by: Dr. Bayo Akomolafe
This month I am including a link to an excerpt from a chapter published in the book Education, Learning, and the Transformation of Development (Routledge, 2016). This chapter can be found on the website of the celebrated author, public speaker, intellectual, teacher, and recipient of the 2021 New Thought Walden Award, Dr. Bayo Akomolafe.
Spence recently shared this article with the team and now I am sharing with you. I appreciate this piece as it highlights "exploratory spaces around the world where new notions of learning are being co-enacted." In other words, it offers a description of other places where the traditional, western idea of school is being challenged and transformed by young people who are demanding a different world.
I find this piece particularly relevant as this is the time of year when many young people begin making decisions about what college or university they will be attending come September. As I reflect on my own high school experience all I can think about is the overwhelming obsession with declaring a college choice came over the senior class every March. My peers and I had such a narrow view of the future...the focus was will my peers be impressed by my college choice? will my university suite my personality? will I find friends there who are "like me"? will my higher education provide me with the resources needed to get a high paying job upon graduation?
Meanwhile, at the university described in this chapter excerpt, Swaraj University, located in Udaipur, India, students are invited to participate in a two-year self-directed learning program that actually focuses on unlearning the thought patterns instilled by systems of power that be, and "rethinking development in more radical and imaginative ways".
If you have a teen at home who is beginning to think about what comes next for them, I would invite you to share this piece of writing with them and to open up the conversation about the possibilities that might exist outside of the cultural norms and expectations.
Follow the link to the article here: