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November 2021

Hello Families,

The month of November was short and sweet for us at Rock Tree Sky. Between abbreviated days to accommodate for family conferences, and a week off to enjoy spending time with family, our time at Rock Tree Sky was cut shorter than many learners would have liked.

Now that December is upon us, we look back on November and see that we did enjoy every day to its absolute fullest...even the short days.

And with only a mere three weeks of RTS left before a two week break that will usher us into the New Year, we intend to appreciate every minute that we have together.

We also intend use these few weeks to create, rehearse, and prepare ourselves for the return of the beloved RTS tradition - The Winter Exposition (though perhaps we should change the name to the Fall Exposition seeing as it occurs on December 16th (still fall) and is an exhibit of all that we have been working on in the fall but I digress).

Anyway, yes. Much todo in December. In this letter I will share calendar updates for December as well as reflections and photos from November.

As always, be well and stay curious,

With love from the RTS Staff

Looking Towards December

Thursday December 16th: 5-7pm RTS Winter Exposition & Potluck: Friends and family members are invited to come to Rock Tree Sky for an annual tradition celebrating the creativity of our learners. Guests are welcome to partake in a gallery walk displaying various learner art and artifacts. Learners will also perform live music that they have practiced during their time at Rock Tree Sky, and more! Please come with a dish to share potluck style if that is something you are interested in partaking in.

Monday December 20-Friday December 31: Rock Tree Sky is closed for Winter Break

Reflecting on November :

Although our time together in November was short, it was not short on activity by any means.

During the first week of November, Chrissy brought a group of teens from the Apothecary Club on a spontaneous field trip to downtown Ojai where a friends of Rock Tree Sky were building a cob hut. Some of you may recall the joyousness of building the cob Rock Tree Sky Mushroom House last spring. The teens that attended the cob field trip this month enjoyed the same joyous energy and certain satisfaction that only comes when getting truly dirty to build something together.

The same group of teens has also been working throughout the fall to create herbal skin care remedies with the plants growing on the RTS campus.

The music scene as also been making magic this month. Learners of all ages have been practicing their vocal and instrumental skills both collaboratively and individually. We are all feeling grateful for the presence and support that our music specialist, Ella, for the way she celebrates and encourages a drawing out of every learner's gift.

Speaking of gratefulness, our youngest learners practiced gratitude this month by partaking in a couple of Rock Tree Sky traditions. One beloved tradition that our young learners participated in during the week leading up to our fall break was making Stone Soup. We learned that when everybody contributes a little bit, there becomes a bounty to share. We also learned that just as important as making the soup is celebrating the bounty that allowed that soup to be. We said thank you to ourselves, eachother, the earth, and the farmers who grew the food that we were able to enjoy and share.

Learners also practiced gratitude in November by decorating gratitude flags with words and pictures that illustrated that which we are thankful for.

As a mentor, some of my favorite things that happened in November were the family conferences. I can't speak for the others but I will share my perspective of the conferences. As a longtime mentor at RTS, I found these conversations to be joy filled on the whole. I appreciated the time sit and share reflections with parents. During these conversations we were able to remark upon and in some instances be in awe of the growth that we have witnessed in each child. These conferences reminded me of how special this learning community is and how amazing and resilient these kiddos are.

Last year was not easy for anyone, and seeing now how happy, active, engaged, and socially and creatively motivated these children all are is inspiring.

If you were not able to meet with your child's mentor in November, I recommend signing up for the family conference week that we have scheduled for February.

Other activities that inspired engagement this month included Isles of the Myst (a running favorite), aerial silks (now offered on Wednesday and Thursday mornings by friend of the community, Lauren), garment making with Diane, crafting miniature sculptures, chasing chickens, climbing trees (and raking freshly fallen leaves), electronics tinkering, wood working, making wild harvested seed shakers, and so much more.

Now for some pictures:

Parent Education: The Apple Gazette: An Unschooler Newspaper

This month I would like to pass along a message that I received from a fellow Self-Directed Education advocate, Alexander Khost, who works with unschoolers in New York City. Alex has had a hand any many projects supporting self-directed learners including being the editor of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education's online magazine Tipping Points, staff member at Brooklyn Apple Academy, and co-founder of play:GroundNYC, to name a few.

I felt particularly inspired by this most recent email from Alex...perhaps you will too.

Alex writes:

I work with a group of teen unschoolers (young people who self-direct their life decisions) on a semi-regular print and online newspaper called The Apple Gazette. It's almost entirely run by the teens and is by far one of the longest running and most fun projects we do.

We need to raise approximately $80/month to print our paper and host our website. If you're able and interested in helping, you can make a sustaining contribution here or a one time donation here.

Our November Issue went to the printers today. You can check out the online version here, or starting tomorrow pick up a copy in person if you're in Brooklyn at our very own newsstand, located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 15th Street in Brooklyn, or by becoming a sustaining member at a level where we'll mail you a copy.

On behalf of the dozen or so teen staff members of the Apple Gazette who work very hard on this paper: thank you and we hope you enjoy our news!

Alexander Khost



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