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Omega Students Discuss Character Strengths & What Makes a Changemaker

Omega Students Discuss Character Strengths & What Makes a Changemaker

Character Strengths & Being a Changemaker

Recently, Omega 7/8 students gathered in a circle in the Social Studies room to talk about their character strengths, how all that ties in with learning, and being a changemaker. In a previous class, they watched a short video about the Science of Character. In this class, they looked at their own character strengths as a way to look at themselves as they are now, and who they want to become. They completed a “periodic table of character strengths.”

As students gathered in circle, their teacher, Jason, asked them for a willingness to be a little vulnerable as they embarked upon a conversation that would certainly involve sharing personal information about one’s character – not a task that’s so easy to do. Our Omega 7/8 students, however, were up for the challenge.

character strengths

Omega 7/8 students ponder questions about character strengths and about being changemakers.

Jason posed quite a few questions that made students really look at how or why they do the things they do. “Why explore character strengths?” was one question he asked, to which students answered, “Many current changemakers have these strengths and that can help others become changemakers themselves and live out their truth.”

Character Strengths at School and in US Culture

Another question: What character strengths do you think are valued at our school? They answered with a number of terms:

  • creativity
  • teamwork
  • kindness (especially in wanting everyone to feel welcome)
  • leadership
  • spirituality (through centering and other activities)
  • perseverance
  • honesty
  • love of learning

Jason followed up with, Are these the same character strengths that are valued in our culture? For a few quiet moments, students pondered their responses. Several offered their insights: “these are supposed to be values in our culture, but it doesn’t always happen that way. We’re supposed to be kind but you don’t always see that, and through some of the language and actions were seeing, kindness is not always there.”

character strengths

A few student examples of the “Periodic Table of Character Strengths”

J: Does that make it hard to value certain character strengths?
S: If you believe in these values, sometimes it’s not always easy to stand by them.

J: Which strengths are important to have or develop in a digital world?
S: Creativity, social responsibility, and gratitude. With social responsibility comes the idea that one must think critically in response to what’s online. It’s also important not to take for granted everything that comes to us as “easy.”

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Jason invited the Omegans to reflect on the idea of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset the video covered as a topic. A fixed mindset is the belief that you cannot change who you are. A growth mindset is the belief that you can. This was a segue into the next probing question:

J: Is there an area where you have a fixed mindset about something?
S: Yes. When you don’t feel like you’re good at math or reading, that you can’t draw, or that you always procrastinate to get things done

J: Is there any character strength that might help you shift out of a fixed mindset?
S: Yes: perseverance in which you keep trying to do something. There’s acceptance, where you accept that perhaps a subject isn’t your favorite but you can keep working at it. It’s an opportunity to be gentle with yourself and accept that this is where you are. Still, there’s curiosity. If you have a certain belief about something, such as “I’m not good at math,” you can adopt an attitude of curiosity.

J: When you’ve failed at something, how did you feel?
S: Anger, directed at the self, or it’s possible to even feel like a failure. Feelings of discouragement, being scared, or being fearful can happen, too. Being mad at yourself, however, won’t get you anywhere.

Learning from Failure

At this, everyone paused. Jason offered words of wisdom, as well as encouragement: These emotions can and do arise. It’s even possible to let fear get in the way of you trying again. This can be a great opportunity for self-reflection in which you ask, “what could I have done differently? What can I learn from this?”

J: Is it okay to fail?
S: Yes. We can learn from it. But it can also be hard.

J: What is it that you want to achieve?
S: That is a hard question: it makes you think about the future. Perhaps write a book. Be the smartest person that ever lived. Maybe doing a job that you “like to do” instead of something that is forced. You can make goals for yourself.

character strengths

A small poster hangs in the Social Studies room – a relevant question when determining character strengths.

Again, Jason offered his wisdom as their teacher. It’s up to you to find your truth. You also need to determine what lights you up. The way to grow your strengths is to be around others who have strengths that you would like to develop. 

As students concluded this portion of their lesson, they pensively began other projects. They demonstrated such wisdom and a complex understanding of life and its lessons. This is something we’ve come to expect of our Omegans: they embrace the journey and take charge of their learning in all Seven Domains. It is in that spirit they use their internal wisdom to guide their decisions as they navigate academics, the adolescent years, friendships, and so much more.

5 Reasons to Attend the Omega Open House Nov. 12

5 Reasons to Attend the Omega Open House Nov. 12

 You can learn so much at the Omega Middle School Open House

Our Omega Middle School Open House is right around the corner. We hope you will take some time to be part of this event, no matter your child’s grade in elementary school or middle school. It gives you an opportunity to see a Rainbow / Omega education across the grades, culminating with the 7th and 8th grade years in which students engage in larger projects, presentations, and leadership opportunities.

What made me a supporter of Rainbow, was the kids’ strong sense of self. They knew who they were and were not. They knew their strengths and weaknesses. And even though high school and college brings its own set of social and educational challenges, the students I met were at peace with themselves, ready to take on the challenges of young adulthood with confidence and determination. —Bill Drew, parent of a current 5th grader

Here is this year’s schedule:

Morning Session
8:30 – 10 am

  • 8:30 – 8:45 coffee/tea/chocolate in the auditorium foyer
  • 8:45 – 9:00 short presentation about Omega Middle School
  • 9:00 – 9:30 tour classes in progress
  • 9:30 – 10 Q & A with current teachers & students back in the auditorium

Evening Session
6:30 – 8:00 pm

  • 6:30 – 6:45 – pizza and salad in the auditorium foyer
  • 6:45 – 7:00 – short presentation about Omega Middle School
  • 7:00 – 7:15 – tour classrooms
  • 7:15 – 8:00 – meet recent graduates and ask questions with our alumni panel

The five big reasons you should come to the Omega Open House:

1. Meet teachers

During the school year, it’s not always so easy to speak with a teacher who is not attending to other tasks – students, planning, teaching, training, in a meeting, etc. Having their undivided attention to answer all your questions about what they teach and how becomes such a gift! The open house provides you this opportunity. Meet all the teachers in our Omega Middle School: Susie (division head), Susan, Jason, Niki, Justin, Lisa, Jenny, and some of our specialists.

open house


2. Meet students

We love opening up our campus so that you can meet students and see how incredible they all are. The programs and curriculum in the Omega program allows them to explore their interests more in-depth through our regular academic program and through our electives classes. We have extensive electives courses and our students can tell you about them.

open house

3. Meet recent graduates

You also have an opportunity to hear from recent graduates who can give you candid answers about how prepared they felt for high school. They can share about their Rainbow experiences, the transition to high school, and tell you much more about their academic and extracurricular careers as a result of their Rainbow / Omega experience.

You can get a great feel for how this works with our past alumni panels who have spoken at other Open Houses:

 

4. Visit classes

On the morning of the Open House, you can see classes in progress. On any given day, students engage in different experiential activities involving collaboration, problem solving, math, language arts and social studies.

omega open house

5. Get all your questions answered

We cannot stress enough the value in being part of an event like this. You get to see the “whole Rainbow story” and how proud we are of our young students and who they grow to be.

Last year, one parent attended and felt so moved by the event, he wrote a long letter of how this event alone helped him decide on a middle school for his child. Take a look! at Bill Drew’s Testimonial Letter.

We hope you will join us for an evening of connection, information, and fun! We’ll have door prizes and other giveaways, too!

September 2019 Kaleidoscope

September 2019 Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

A publication by Renee Owen for parents to get a better understanding of what’s happening through her perspective

I believe that every child should feel utterly special. That’s what we are aiming for at Rainbow. Therefore, in early September, when I found myself on stage for Rainbow’s opening ceremony, I told our students that we are all in a special place (Rainbow), and the reason Rainbow is a special place is because each of them is here. I also wanted them to know about their place. I explained that before us, a church “lived” on the spot of the auditorium for 60 years, and before that the venerable Dr. Orr had a “gentleman’s farm” that spread out over this part of West Asheville, and he lived in the Historical Building… and sometime before that the Cherokee stewarded this land for a long, long time. We thanked the Cherokee people for taking care of this land so well before us and we honored all native people. In particular, we thanked First Nations people for sharing some of their most important stories with us — stories to help us learn to live in harmony.

 

Heart of the Matter – February 2019

Heart of the Matter – February 2019

Heart of the Matter – Community Resource

This the third in a series for Heart of the Matter based on our board Ends Policies. Ends Policies are written by the Board as the guiding light for our school. They point the way toward who we want to be and where we want to go. Ends Policies may seem lofty because they are meant to be grand goals that we may never fully reach but we are always working toward.

Student Flipbooks Illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion

Student Flipbooks Illustrate Newton’s Laws of Motion

Newton’s Laws of Motion

We stepped into sixth grade recently to find them learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion.

But it wasn’t just any science class. The Kitsune created flipbooks to illustrate their understanding of these universal laws.

The first law of motion is that an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Kitsune teacher, Jenny, created these incredible posters that illustrated Newton’s laws.

 

Newton’s Second Law of Motion

The second law of motion is that Force (f) = mass (m) x acceleration (a).

 

Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion

The third law of motion is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Science and Rollercoasters

A day earlier, students created a marble roller coaster. They were applying the principles of what they had learned about energy and the laws of motion, specifically, Newton’s 2nd law. Their challenge was to build a roller coaster that would allow the speed of a marble to speed up or slow down using inclines, different materials or textures, and the like.

Persistence of Vision

Before diving into flipbooks, the Kitsune recently spent part of their morning talking about the “persistence of vision” in which students brainstormed some concepts about what this was. Persistence of vision, as it relates to animation and film, includes three main ideas:

  1. optical illusion
  2. the human eye can process 10-12 images per second
  3. the faster the images go, the more they seem to be in motion

That is, the human eye effectively “retains” an image up to a fifteenth of a second. If you “speed up” looking at different images, they will appear to move due to this phenomenon.

To illustrate this, Jenny, had students create and imagine a few drawings of what “running” would look like.

 

They had a chance to see different examples of flipbooks.

 

After they got all inspired, Jenny showed them what a story board looked like.

Their objective: create a 30-page flip book that illustrates the principles of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Students would also need to write a paragraph explaining the action that happens their flip book, as well as how the action illustrated Newton’s laws of motion.

We’ll update here when we see the final flipbook creations students have created.

Kaleidoscope – January 2019

Kaleidoscope – January 2019

Kaleidoscope January, 2019

From the age of six to fourteen I took violin lessons but had no luck with my teachers, for whom music did not transcend mechanical practicing. I really began to learn only after I had fallen in love with Mozart’s sonatas. The attempt to reproduce their singular grace compelled me to improve my technique. I believe, on the whole, that love is a better teacher than sense of duty. ~Albert Einstein.

Love is the best teacher

Love is the best teacher, and I love Rainbow! I love the wonderment of the children and the sincerity of the adults here. I love my job for so many reasons – mostly because I am always learning so much.

Last night you should have received an email announcing the leadership structure for next year. One of the best aspects of my job is the people I work with. The teachers and the staff here are the people I most respect in the whole world. In addition, our current board is an honor and a pleasure to work with. My heart is thrilled to be ED and working with Susie Fahrer and Sandra McCassim as Division Heads again next year. Susie will also be Assistant Executive Director, which I am really looking forward this. Working with Susie is an incredible experience. Her intelligence, integrity, and huge heart inspire me every day.


Rainbow is the best place to learn

Rainbow is the best place to learn – for children and adults – and I often remark that I think I get to learn more than anyone at Rainbow! Of course, leadership in any context is a fabulous learning opportunity, but because of Rainbow’s contemplative aspect and our supportive environment I am always looking deeply inside and reflecting on how I can best serve this community. “Know thyself” is the theme of Omega Middle School, and it’s a lifelong journey. Thank you, to all of you, for being on this learning journey with me.

I am thankful for the children, the families, and the opportunity to be working in such an amazing place. I envision our students growing up to have work experiences that are meaningful and fulfilling. I want love to be their teacher for the rest of their lives.


Community

We also learn through struggle and sometimes tragedy. Only one week ago Haywood Lounge patron, Ramon Clark, lost his life in the Haywood parking lot in the middle of the night. I have since learned that Ramon was a father to two children and native of Asheville.

We would like to honor Ramon and his family with an interfaith gathering within the next week or two. We will reach out to his family to find out if they would want this sort of gathering and, if so, if they would like to attend. If this occurs, we will let you know through the Rainbow Connector or Rainbow Reminders. Community is crucial in times of tragedy. Gratitude goes out to the RCS Community for the feedback and support I received in navigating our response plan last week. Our leadership is always working in partnership with the families and teachers to keep our children’s safety and security at the heart of our communications and actions. Just as we learn from love, it can also provide the guidance we need to rise out of darkness.


Office Hours

Please remember that my office is open to all members of our RCS Community on Mondays from 2pm to 3pm each week. You are invited to stop in without an appointment with any questions, comments, or just to talk. I am also open to suggestions on topics you would like to explore further. Once a month, during open office hours, I am open to hosting a discussion on a topic of parent choice if there is enough interest.

This is a short Kaleidoscope – the first of 2019.

Our campus is buzzing with activity: Shine talent show, the ski trip, science fair, and more. Be sure to stay in touch through Rainbow Reminders.

In particular, I want to encourage you to attend the Open House on February 7 from 4-6pm, which is right before re-enrollment contracts are due on February 15. The Open House is a great opportunity to meet your child’s teacher for next year, and to learn more about why Rainbow is a journey that goes through 8th grade. During the Open House there will be tours of Omega Middle School.

There is so much to look forward to in 2019 and beyond. May it be a year of hope.

Open House RSVP 11/12/19

Reserve your spot for the Omega Open House!
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