Happy Spring! Despite the fact that we haven't yet shed our puffy coasts and warm sweaters, it is in fact springtime.
The gentle seasonal transition that we are experiencing this year in Southern California is a reminder that transformation doesn't happen overnight.
Growth is most often slow. Change usually takes time.
Noticing the gradual seasonal shifts in the natural world can support us in how we view growth for our children and even ourselves.
What I mean by that is that we cannot expect our children to turn a 180 and completely change their behavior as soon as we make a request. If your child is learning to hold body boundaries, or developing a stronger sense of self-control it is going to take time, practice, and a few slip-ups before they are making more caring choices consistently.
Just as it isn't going to be all sunshine and 75 degree days as soon as we celebrate the vernal equinox. Apparently, there are going to be a few cold and rainy days along the trajectory to warmer weather.
And that slow shift is perfectly okay and perfectly natural...
In the rest of this letter you will find calendar items for April, a whole slew of special announcements you won't want to miss, reflections and photos from March, and some exciting information about what Jim Bailey has been up to in the world of SDE.
Be well and Stay Curious,
With love from Chrissy and the RTS Staff
Looking Towards April
April 10th-14th- RTS Closed for Spring Break
Saturday, April 22nd- 10am-12pm Parent Dialogue on RTS Campus with Chrissy and Ella
Parents and caregivers are Chrissy and Ella for a Parent Discussion group at Rock Tree Sky. Look out for a sign-up form as the date approaches. Please note that if less than 10 folks sign up to attend, the Parent Dialogue will be cancelled.
Re-Enrollment is Open!
It's time to re-enroll for RTS. We are encouraging families to enroll now because space fills up fast and we do have an enrollment cap. We promise, it doesn't take very long to fill out the re-enrollment form...just do it!
Special Spring Sale
More sunny days in the springtime means more sun protection necessary and what better way to protect your face from UV radiation than a brand new snapback?
RTS is selling a limited line of Rock Tree Sky logo hats. We have hats in two color options: gold on black, or brown on light brown.
They're $25 a piece. They fit adults and kids. Get them while supplies lasts!
We accept cash, checks, and venmo @Natasha-Efross
Reflections on March
"We go Marching, Marching around! Over the hills and through the town!" At least that's what the kids in the Roots band sang on the first day of March. And march around they did...both over the rolling hills of our picturesque campus as well as through the town of Santa Paula during a field trip series to our local post office.
As a continuation of the Rock Tree Sky Post office message writing that occurred in February, during the first week of March kids explored letter writing, envelope addressing, and the workings of the US Postal Service. In the Imagination Room kids practiced writing messages to loved ones, and addressing envelopes. Then, Chrissy and Ella took turns bringing the kids to the Santa Paula Post Office where they had fun picking out stamps and slipping their mail into the outgoing mail slot.
These mini-field trips were a beautiful reminder of how sometimes the simplest things can bring the most joy and generate the most enthusiasm for our young people.
Other ways we noticed learners being enthusiastically engaged during the month of March included many rainy-day dance parties and dance competitions in Hartmann Hall. Kids of all ages had fun showing off their moves, practicing choreography, and simply free styling and letting loose on the dance floor. A big source of joy for many was found in just witnessing the kids supporting each other with applause and encouragement to get up on the dance floor.
There was also a lot of learner collaboration and excitement around movie making and video editing this month. Learners practiced making movies of their own imagining in addition to the focused interviews that Peter began capturing of learners sharing about their experiences at Rock Tree Sky.
Peter also supported learners with some fun challenges in the design room this month. Most notably, the cardboard marble tracks including a perpetual marble loop created by our resident engineering wizard, Memphis Snyder. (You'll have to see it to believe it).
Another collaborative project that learners engaged in this month was weaving on the loom in the art room. With help from textile specialist, Ennet, Vera and the RTS learners were able to weave together a complete, colorful tapestry, now on display in the art room.
Other notable moments from the month of March include the Iranian Vernal Equinox tradition facilitated by Natasha. Each year on the first day of Spring, known to many around the world as New Years Day, Natasha shares a favorite tradition of hers in which folks are invited to set an intention by jumping over a small fire. Kids were invited to write a wish or an intention on a piece of paper, feed the paper to the fire, and then take a leap over the fire to burn the old and welcome in the new.
After the fire jumping experience, Chrissy facilitated a meditation and focused journalling exercise for the teens in Council as a way to practice setting goals or planting intentions for the New Year.
Along the theme of planting intentions for the New Year, during the month of March many members of the community planted seeds and plants around campus. Those who are committed to the Rock Tree Sky garden have been working together to prepare the hoop-house for growing fruits and vegetables this season. The irrigation lines have been laid, the trellises have been erected, and seeds and starts have been planted in the ground.
Farmer Kelly has also planted more California natives and wildflower seeds around campus in an ongoing effort for campus beautification. And learners in the Roots band participated in the RTS annual tradition of planting sunflower seeds during the early weeks of spring.
Another annual tradition that we honored this month was Rock Tree Sky's annual Parent Maker Night. Parent Maker Night provided an opportunity for parents to come and experience some of the offerings and activities that their kids get to engage in on a daily basis at RTS. It was also a cherished opportunity to meet new members of the community, connect with those we don't get to see regularly, and make a new friends. A big Thank You for all who participated for making the effort to keep our community vibrant and thriving!
As always, there is so much more I could share with you here but...I've got a room full of kids on my hands and I need to start wrapping this up.
We're looking forward to even more fun (and fingers crossed, some warmer days) come April!
Parent Education: Education Reimagined
I'd like to use this space to share a little bit about what Jim has been up to in the world of Self-Directed Education.
This month, Jim flew out to Nashville to participate in a small Education Reimagined convergence where he was joined by a working group or passionate individuals who share a common vision to increase access and affordability for Self-Directed Education on a national level. This working group consisted of program directors, practitioners, members from state boards of education, folks from the youth development sector, and those who work on foundational funding in the realm of education.
What each of these people want is to give children the opportunity to rise to their full potential by accrediting and increasing access to programs like Rock Tree Sky.
The intention of the meeting was to capture clear ideas, finalize language, and establish clear next steps towards increasing equitable access to SDE.
Those involved worked together to develop writing that will be passed onto policy makers with the underlying big picture goal being to make SDE publicly funded and available to all.
Moving forward, some next steps for RTS will be a 3-5 year process of demonstrating how this form of education is beneficial for children and communities.
We are excited to be a part of this national conversation and feel both a sense of honor and responsibility to be an example of a Self-Directed Education model that others are turning to for inspiration.