Updated: Sep 24
Dear RTS Families,
I would like to open this Messenger by welcoming our new families and welcoming back our returning families to another year of learning and growing together.
It feels pretty special to be occupying such a sizable space this September. We are feeling fortunate that the Summit School building is so well suited to meet the needs of our Rock Tree Sky community. And we are practicing that gratitude by truly making the most of the "new to us" space.
Upper Ojai neighbors and extended community members have commented on the vibrancy that Rock Tree Sky has brought to the Summit. We are grateful that you and your children are all bringing and sharing your best energy. Because at the end of the day it is thepeople, not theplace, that make the community. We are happy that you all are the people.
This edition of the Messenger will include calendar items for October, a written and photographic reflection of September, and a Parent Education piece about the "social brain".
As always, Be Well and Stay Curious!
With love from the Rock Tree Sky Staff
Looking Towards October:
Monday October 8th: Rock Tree Sky will be closed in observance of Indigenous Peoples Day
Saturday October 13th-Sunday October 14th: Rock Tree Sky Family Camping Trip. Details to come via Email
Wednesday October 31st: Halloween Half-Day. Learners to be picked up at 12pm, staff professional development during the afternoon hours.
For Halloween learners are encouraged to come to RTS dressed in age appropriate costumes. Learners may also choose to bring a pumpkin to carve. Please refrain from sending your learner to RTS with Halloween candy during the days/weeks following Halloween! Thanks!
Reflections on September:
It is quite impressive to consider all that has been created in just four weeks of being back together at RTS. In fact, we have all been creating and exploring so much that there is no way I will be able to write it all here. So in an effort to be brief I will share just a few highlights that the learners have been most excited about.
To start, it has been heartwarming to witness the many new friendships that have been created within the past month. As adults operating in this digital age I think we could all take lessons from these kids about how to make friends. For them it can be as simple as"Do you want to play with me?" and within minutes a friendship is born.
Other exciting creations include the creation of a 'culture committee.' Learners engage in culture committee meetings depending on their interest in the topics being discussed. And the purpose of the culture committee meetings is to allow learners to engage in conversations about particular issues (ie. lego set-ups) and to make decision and a set of agreements that will aim to resolve said issues (ie. respect red ropes).
And then of course there are all of the physical creations which range from the baking of cakes and cookies (always gluten free) with Kim, to making knifes with Casey. Learners have sewn accessories and garments, made boomerangs with Jim, set up an environment to grow a SCOBY with Chrissy, made cheese from goats milk with Natasha, carved wooden swords and built a stage with Spence, practiced playing music, learned new gymnastics skills, engaged in writing class and other seminars, and a couple of our learners are even directing a play together.
The list goes on but for now please enjoy these photographs as a visual journal of our creations:
AtRock Tree Sky we do not have a long list of Dos and Don'ts. Instead behavioral expectations of learners and mentors are maintained when the following three agreements are practiced.
Take care of yourself
Take care of each other and
Take care of the space.
It is understood that operating in such a way that upholds a balance of these agreements is essential to maintain harmony within communities. And living in an age in which our national and global communities are disharmonious, we at RTS feel it is vital to rear our young ones in a way that implements and integrates the practice of these basic agreements with the hope that as they emerge into adulthood these learners will contribute to a more compassionate and empathetic global community.
Therefore practicing interpersonal integration is essential. It is at the core of all that we are. And who we are and how we are is more important than what we do and what we make on the day to day.
As mentors we scaffold our learners to develop insight and empathy by reminding them to check in with their own feelings and the feelings of others.
It is widely understood that any skill can be developed with encouragement and practice. So to can the brain practice and be encouraged to develop insight and empathy.
The following excerpt taken from Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson's, Ph.D. book The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind (2011) offers more insight on how our brains works to develop relationships with other human beings.