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January 2021

Hello Families,

Last month, I wrote a Parent Education Piece about resiliency. Call it foreshadowing, call it a coincidence, call it irony, call it what you will, there is no denying the fact that January 2021 called upon us all to be a bit more resilient.

The direct and diffuse effects of Covid-19 impacted the RTS community more during the month of January than we have experienced to date. Between the reduced number of staff on campus, the winds, the rains, and the chill in the air, Rock Tree Sky in January is not what we would call a walk in the park.

However, what was clear throughout the month, for those learners who attended program in-person, is that the kids are alright. When the kids come together in this space, the magic of childhood comes to life. There is an abundance of laughter and exploration. Friendships are flourishing. The community continues to be wholesome and happy. It is a miraculous to me. I am grateful to all of those who attended during this month of challenges. I am open to seeing what February has in store.

As always, Be well and stay curious!

With love from the RTS Staff

Looking Towards February:

Monday February 15: No Zoom Offerings in Observance of Presidents Day

Reflecting on January:

January, as I reflected previously, has been quite a month of challenges. But along with the challenges there were plenty of delightful moments and experiences sprinkled throughout the month.

For instance, on one particularly cold and gray Friday afternoon the teens baked what were perhaps the most delicious gluten free chocolate chip cookies that I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. That was, of course, after they had smoked up the kitchen by putting wax paper in the oven causing the fire alarm to sound across campus. No one was hurt and I'm happy that the teens learned a valuable lesson about baking dos and don'ts.

This month the teens also got to experience the metal shop in action for the first time. Our metal working specialist, Justin, came up to the space to work with the teens and introduce them to the various tools in the shop.

Another joy of the month was the planting of wildflower seeds in the back garden and the harvest of the freshly ripened navel and cara cara oranges.

The rainy days that came at the end of January brought about a myriad of delightful opportunities to be together in different ways. Kids and teens enjoyed gathering around an outdoor fire pit during times when the rains weren't too strong. And kids got to experiment with roasting various treats over the open fire; from chocolate chip cookies in cast iron, to freshly picked navel oranges from our own orchard, to sliced apples with cinnamon.

A few learners also got to experience a fruitful mushroom forage with our mycology specialist, Omar. The learners were excited to discover a lions mane mushroom amongst other varieties growing in the forest along upper Sisar Road.

And of course the kids loved splashing through the puddles!

Learners also enjoyed taking advantage of the time indoors during those rainy days. Kids spent days creating in the art room, hanging out in the loft spaces, working on lego bases, and delighting in particularly cozy story times.

Parent Education:

Summerhill School Celebrates 100 Years

2021 Marks the 100 year anniversary of Summerhill School. What is Summerhill School and why is this relevant, you may ask?

Summerhill School was founded by Scottish educational pioneer, A.S. Neil, in 1921 as a boarding school for children to flourish. Classes were not mandatory and coursework was not compulsory. Instead the school was founded on the principals for self-directed learning and rearing children in love.

The book that A.S.Neil wrote about the school was my first introduction to free schooling and self-directed education for children. It was reading his book in conjunction with interning at North Star Teens, the flagship of the Liberated Learners Network, that inspired me to move forward towards shaping a career in this type of educational environment as opposed to my previous intention of being a radical teacher trying to shake things up from the inside of conventional schools.

I have always felt particularly grateful for the experiential wisdom shared by A.S. Neil on the topic of child rearing and I have often turned to the pages of his book for advise and inspiration. I'm sharing bellow a link to an article written by his daughter and published on the Alliance for Self Directed Education's online magazine, Tipping Points. As well as the direct link to the Summerhill Centenary website.

I also highly recommend reading the book, Summerhill School.

In addition to being a resource full of wisdom and advise, Summerhill School is also active evidence that "this type" of school is not a new, hip thing but is in fact a model of education with deep roots.


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