May 2019 Monthly Messenger
Dear RTS Families,
June. Is. Here.
It's hard to believe that there are only two weeks left together before summer break. But this is the truth.
And unlike most school experiences, the Rock Tree Sky community is leaping into these last two weeks with all the momentum we have been mustering since coming back together in September.
That said, I would like to keep this message moving along. In this messenger you will find calendar updates for the month of June, photographs and reflections on the month of May, a link to a podcast episode featuring the voice of Sequoia Lynch, and a parent education piece featuring an excerpt from Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.'s book,Brainstrom.
As always Be Well and Stay Curious,
With love from the RTS Staff
Looking Towards June:
Thursday June 6th: Final edition of Heather King's wildlife field trip series. Learners attending will be prepared to be off campus and in nature from 10am-3pm.
Thursday June 13th:Rock Tree Sky Spring Exposition 10:30am-12pm at Summit School Campus
All learners families, extended family members, and friends are welcome to attend!
Featuring learners performances and and gallery walk. Potluck to follow.
Reflections on May
May has been a month steeped in celebratory energy.
For starters, during the first week of May, the RTS community witnessed the hatching of the first of our baby chicks (or baby bawk bawks as Juna affectionally refferes to them). And throughout the month we have enjoyed a steady pattern of hatching. Watching the eggs crack open, and fuzzy little life emerge, has been inspiring for many of our learners. Several learners have deeply engaged in the tender work of caring for these chicks by way of changing bedding, boxes, providing food and clean water. There has also been the important work of moving through the feelings that arise when some of the chicks inevitably are unable to hatch or don't survive past the first weeks of life. With mentor support children have created burial rituals, and ever more precise record keeping for the care of the living and not yet hatched chicks.
During the second-Saturday parent discussion group that took place on May 11th, parents and staff members came together to brainstorm our values as a learning community and to collaboratively discuss actionable ways to uphold, strengthen, and celebrate these values. As a staff member, I personally felt supported by the active exchange of ideas. And I would like to use this space as a platform to call in more parents to participate in these opportunities to share ideas, learn from one another, and generate inspiration together.
An unexpected connection was also made during the month of May when a graduate student studying alligator lizards arrived in Upper Ojai in pursuit of catching lizards for research purposes. Being a hotbed for alligator lizards, we were able to offer this student access to our big farm and assistance from experienced young lizard catchers, and in exchange he was able to offer our interested young learners some information about the species, the purpose, and the practice of his research.
This impromptu opportunity to connect with a professional whose job is literally to catch and observe lizards was not only inspiring for our learners, but validating for RTS as a program. Our kids are allowed to learn from the world around them - and celebrate opportunities to connect with others that are doing so as well.
On a similar note, several learners were able to engage in the opportunity to head off campus and into nature via a wildlife field trip series offered by wildlife education specialist Heather King. On these field trips learners really got their feet wet in the practice of tuning into observing the complexity of local ecosystems.
Then on May 17th, Kim coordinated a field trip up in Santa Barbara where learners got the opportunity to view and learn about art at the Santa Barbara Art Museum, tour the SB Public Library, explore the architecture of the court house and its fabulous viewing tower, and to enjoy playfulness in the sunken garden. It felt good to get off campus and spend time together in the greater community.
And then there was the good-ole RTS Family Campout at Carpinteria State Beach. The campout offered such a fun opportunity for families, learners, and staff to celebrate togetherness. There is something unequivocally special about sharing food, sharing stories, and sharing beachy adventures with those that we share community with. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to camp out and participate in this bonding that is so essential to upholding the type of community that truly cares for each other.
Quotes From the Kids: Through the Eyes of a Kid
The following link is to the fifth episode of a podcast featuring interviews of Rock Tree Sky learners contemplating and describing their educational journeys.
This episode features the voice of RTS Learner Sequoia Lynch and the musical styling of RTS Teen Carter Young.
Parent Education: For this month's Parent Education piece I choose to include an excerpt fromDaniel J. Siegel, M.D.'s book, Brainstrom: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain: An Inside-Out Guide to the Emerging Adolescent Mind, Ages 12-24
I selected this particular excerpt because until this month, during which I turned 25, I have been a mentor to adolescence while operating with a brain that is considered by psychologists to be adolescent in development. Now, I am not sure that there is a clear delineation between when adolescence begins and ends - nor do I believe that my adolescence completely began on my 12th and ended on my 25th birthday. But I do think that exploring the complexity of this particular part of life is fascinating and relevant to better understanding our children and ourselves.