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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.

Kaleidoscope – November 2018

Kaleidoscope – November 2018

Kaleidoscope, October 2018

I wrote this Kaleidoscope before we had another national tragedy occur: The Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. It is with a broken heart that I add this “introduction” to Kaleidoscope.

Collaborative for Spirituality in Education

As I write, I am nestled safely indoors at the beautiful old Rockefeller home in New York, where 12 heads of schools are meeting to discuss how spiritually supportive schools can help to heal our world. This is the work of the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education (CSE) – an organization started by Dr. Lisa Miller of Columbia University Teachers College (Author of The Spiritual Child).

Through funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Fetzer Foundation, the Rainbow Institute and several other schools are being paid generously to share our best practices in spiritual pedagogy. The CSE seeks to influence American education, at large, to honor the whole child and to create a more just and peaceful democracy.

new york

Important Work

It’s an honor to be invited to do this important work, and I am developing relationships with these other heads of schools and faculty who are a part of the CSE. Some of these heads of schools are from Jewish Schools, who were here when the news of the tragedy hit, rather than home with their school community.

Together, we have been helping them bear the pain of this tragedy…and they have been helping us all remember the message of the Jewish people. “We are the people who were commanded by Moses to ‘Choose life’ and ever since, despite the tragedies of our history, past and present, have always striven to choose life and sanctify life.” (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks).

Meeting hate with love

The continual message from these school leaders has been one of meeting hate with love. We chose life. We chose love. Though we are weary, we yet love. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

This is the message we will always share at Rainbow Community School with our children and with the world at large.

kaleidoscope

Harvest Season

It is harvest season, a time when the earth sheds its green and the light begins to shift, but the strength of life is ever apparent in nature’s cycles of renewal. This is the time of year for getting cozy and settling in. The children have become comfortable with the rituals and routines of the classroom. Their relationships with their teachers are becoming well-established.

It is harvest season, a time when the earth sheds its green and the light begins to shift, but the strength of life is ever apparent in nature’s cycles of renewal. This is the time of year for getting cozy and settling in. Click To Tweet

Thanks to the intentional work of all RCS faculty, students should feel comfortable to take risks in all domains, including testing their boundaries. Along with comfort comes developmentally appropriate challenges.

kaleidoscope

The shadow self

In many traditions, this is the time of year the “shadow” starts to reveal itself; and for Rainbow students, this is no different. The shadow is both a mystical concept and a psychological theory. Simply put, our shadow is the part of our being that we may consider inferior, or our “dark side” that we may repress or deny. However, the shadow need not be negative. Some consider the shadow to be the seat of human creativity.

How is your child exploring their shadow self? Perhaps they are toying with their mischievous side. Maybe they are discovering how they can avoid challenges, such as going to school or completing homework. They might be taking on new social personas, learning how they can “control” other children in positive or negative ways. Some children may be experiencing their first social rejection by a childhood friend.

All of these examples are normal, and even expected. The important thing is that we, as caring adults, provide a loving environment that doesn’t judge or shame them (or each other). We adults try to hold a balance between guiding them, while also allowing them to learn from the natural consequences of their mistakes.

Feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher or the counseling office for a check-in if your child’s behavior is particularly puzzling or if they are starting to have negative experiences at school. Will Ray, Director of Counseling, can be reached at extension 430. As director, Will works part time on campus; but someone in the counseling department is almost always on site. Katie Ford specializes in middle school. Elise Drexler is a play therapist. Kasie Caswell is an intern from Eastern Tennessee State University this year. Together, they make up a holistic team of caring providers.

kaleidoscope

Día de los muertos

To honor and recognize the changing season–a time of unveiling our inner selves—we will hold a community fire on Friday, November 2 from 9am until the end of the day in the outdoor classroom. Some classes may incorporate the fire with their Día de los Muertos celebration. The space is open to all families, students, and staff. Please come and allow yourself to just be. Click here for the poem teacher Jason Cannoncro attached with the invite to the fire.

Making Learning Visible

You may have noticed a new section in Rainbow Reminders. Each week, at the end of the email, there is a new section called “Making Learning Visible” that describes various aspects of our curriculum and academic program. Making Learning Visible provides a peek into a different classroom each week, with a description of how various classroom activities help students learn and succeed.

Testing 1,2,3

Another marker of fall at Rainbow is standardized testing. We have nearly completed all testing, except for make-up sessions. In case you missed Making Learning Visible in the last Rainbow Reminders, click here to read about why we test and how we use test scores to help inform instruction. Last year’s scores are linked in the article with an easy-to-read graph.

What the heck goes on in Omega?!

Our middle school program is unique, and changes greatly from the elementary program. Middle school children become developmentally ready for demanding cognitive and executive function challenges. Our middle school students are given a lot of responsibility. “Know Thyself” is the theme of the Omega Middle School. Students are on a personal journey to discover their purpose and potential. They learn through community and through communing with nature.

open house november 13

The Omega Open House

The very BEST way to learn about Omega? Attend the Omega Open House and the alumni panel. You can ask alumni any question you want. It’s never too early to start doing your homework. Even if your child is in kindergarten, it will help you understand what is ahead. The panel discussion is November 13, from 7-8pm.

It’s Campaign Time

I felt so good after making my pledge to the annual campaign! I love Rainbow. I love what a Rainbow education did for my kids. They are innovators in a changing world, and thriving. I know my contribution helps our vibrant programs.

I hope you will join me in pledging as soon as possible. The earlier you pledge, the less time we spend fundraising. That gives us more time to focus on what we do best – educating children! Click here to make your pledge. It’s easy to donate now, or you can pledge and RCS can bill you later.

Your financial support also provides moral support! Every time a pledge arrives for the annual campaign, a cheer goes up! Donations are a vote of confidence for our hard-working staff and volunteers.

Voluntary Equitable Tuition

Some people have asked about the difference between the Voluntary Equitable Tuition (VET) program and the Annual Campaign. The V in VET stands for “voluntary” — it is designed for people to voluntarily pay a higher tuition. The E stands for Equitable — parents who feel they can afford to pay a higher tuition do so out of the generosity of their hearts in an effort to make tuition more equitably distributed in our community (meaning those who can pay more do to help those who cannot). The VET specifically provides funding for those who cannot afford tuition, and it helps with teacher salaries.

Donating to the annual campaign

The annual campaign, on the other hand, is much wider. The hope is that everyone will donate to the annual campaign. The funds go broadly into operations. (If you want your annual campaign funds designated to a specific area or program, you can check that on your pledge envelope.)

We hope that people paying into VET truly think of VET as part of their tuition payment (albeit a tax-deductible portion), and still make their regular annual campaign donation.

While we wish fundraising were optional, as a non-profit, it is a necessity. Thanks for making it as fun and easy as possible. In this way, we build a stronger community.

What happened to the Parent Education Program (PEP)?

Last year, we asked parents to come to three required PEP meetings/trainings. The program is now different. This year, instead, we ask that parents attend at least two out of three of their class parent meetings. These meetings are the best way for parents to be engaged, to understand their teacher’s methods, to learn about their child’s developmental stage, and more. An administrator attends these meetings to answer questions and provide information.

Class meetings

By now, every class has had at least one meeting. Thank you for participating in this most important aspect of parenting at Rainbow.

The biggest complaint about Rainbow?

One person just told me their biggest grumble is the amount of email and communication they get. Indeed, it’s A LOT! Like, a crazy-beans amount of communication! In general, as a community school, parents have many things to focus on, give of their time and talent, and participate in many activities.

Some people are fortunate enough to be able keep up with most of it, while others are overworked and overwhelmed. But it’s a community. We just ask that each person does their best to support one another, even though we all have different circumstances.

Sometimes Rainbow can seem magical – and it is! But behind all that magic is a lot of work and cooperation. The real magic is community, support, and collaboration.

kaleidoscope

Reach out and thank a board member

The new Rainbow Community School Board has been diligently working. Over the summer they attended trainings and began the process of revising a number of board policies.

This is a monumental undertaking that involves carefully analyzing each policy, discussing what it means, its ramifications, and making any needed revisions. These meetings are rich and thought-provoking. The board is truly committed to what is most important: the students! You will be able to identify board members at various campus events. They will have a button that lets you know who they are. If you see them, please thank them for their wisdom and hard work.

As a friendly reminder, don’t forget to VOTE! Early voting goes until November 3.
The world may seem pretty wobbly and often disturbing these days. But when all of us just do the simple things within our control, it makes a difference.

There is so much hope. Everything can change in an instant! I leave you with an excerpt from a poem my husband recently shared with me. (My favorite line is in bold.)

kaleidoscope

Someone is dreaming of adoring you

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.

There are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”

Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.

Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Someone is fighting the fight so that you don’t have to.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.

Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity.

Someone is coming back from the dead.

Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.

Someone is curing the incurable.

Someone loves you more than you can ever know.

Me. You. Some. One. Now.
~author unknown

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All in a day’s work

All in a day’s work

So many things…all in a day’s work

Sacred geometry, science experiments, and literacy – all in a day’s work. Maybe not even a day’s work, but in the span of an hour and a half, students experienced some incredible learning.

Language Arts

It was mid-morning, and students were well-immersed in their classes.

Teachers create units that complement each other. Today’s activity included vocabulary words that would come up in  science class later in the morning. Students were likely not familiar with them.

all in a day's work

Susan, their teacher, had them study the list of words for two minutes. We love that some kiddos wanted to know why they needed to study and memorize them. Susan had them “sit tight” because they would find out in a few minutes.

At the end of the two minutes, students turned their papers over and had one minute to write down the words they remembered. Afterward, some folks remembered 2, 3, or 5 words, and one student had 15!

Learning strategies

Some students had words from an “A” list, or from a “B” list. The words on each list had different characteristics. Some words were bold, some were in alphabetical order, and more.

Students discussed their strategies for memorization. One student said he memorized words in groups. Another said she put a description with each word. Others mentioned eliminating words that were too long, repeating different words over and over, and some tried writing them down.

all in a day's work

Learning objective

The idea here was that It’s important to try different learning strategies. By doing so, students can figure out what works best for them, and what doesn’t. By sharing ideas, everyone could learn a strategy that maybe they hadn’t tried previously.

Learning games

Next came cutouts of the vocabulary words. Students split into groups of 3 (with 8 vocabulary words each) or 4 (with 6 vocabulary words each) to collaborate and separate their vocabulary into categories. They were allowed to discuss and work together to do so. Susan instructed them not to worry about words they didn’t know, but to work together to see if someone else knew the meaning. If not, they could use deductive reasoning to separate them out.

What a way to learn vocabulary. Students had some fun and challenging approaches to learning new words. They will then relate them back to their science learning, as well as tie their different classes together to touch on the different domains. The lessons on this day emphasized the mental and creative domains.

Art History

Across the hall, another Omega class studied art history and math. It wasn’t just another garden-variety middle school class, however. Their teacher, Mark, was incorporating elements of sacred geometry.

Sacred geometry is an area of intense interest for Mark. In fact, he’s publishing a book on the subject soon.

While in his class, students studied Renaissance paintings and works by Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Verocchio, and others.

all in a day's work

Da Vinci and math

While listening to Mark’s lecture, students were quite riveted with the presentation. Mark mentioned how Da Vinci was a great artist, AND used mathematics heavily in his work.

Incredibly, perspective and sacred geometry came into play. The proportions of the human body, for example, represent universal sacred geometry parameters. Da Vinci’s paintings include so much symbolism as well as “hidden” geometry, especially in his human subjects.

For example, one might be able to find evidence of the sacred spiral or even phi ratios in different Da Vinci paintings.

all in a day's work

 

Students had a chance to try their hand at creating their own works of sacred geometry. They used a compass and ruler and made their own golden rectangles, along with sacred spirals.

They also saw examples of how those patterns show in up nature on the most minute scale (such as with tiny seashells) all the way up to a universal scale, such as with spiral galaxies.

 

all in a day's work

The “Eggs-periment”

Back in the science classroom, the Omega group that had become vocabulary masters began delving into their new science unit.all in a day's work

They began an investigation involving the standard egg. They chose to either do an “egg-speriment” or “what about other eggs” for their research.

The eggs-periment involved observing changes in an egg and recording those observations. The latter assignment gave students the opportunity to study an egg-laying creature to investigate.

Both projects required entries into student science journals, presentations, making models, and writing effective science reports.

all in a day's work

Omegans have a rich curriculum

All these interesting subjects, all by the noontime hour! We can only imagine what happened after lunch. All in a day’s work.

Be the Change

Be the Change

In 2012 Rainbow Community School (RCS) was selected as an Ashoka Changemaker School, a network of schools that empower students as changemakers by prioritizing empathy, leadership, and collaborative problem-solving as student outcomes. They recognize the capacities of young people to make a BIG difference and highlight empathy as the centerpiece for all changemaking efforts. RCS was nominated as a changemaker School because of its belief that educating for the wholechild directly impacts humanity’s collective awareness and capacity for growth.

The Journey from I to We:
Gandhi’s wise words remind us that it all begins with our inner selves: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” At RCS, we believe that real change originates out of an individuals’ commitment to their own evolution. As a result, we strive to support all learners in becoming whole, finding purpose and then making change. Our educational model nurtures the holistic development of the child and by doing so, these whole humans are better equipped and more empowered to serve the needs of humanity and the planet through their positive change making efforts.

It is not uncommon for our learners to acknowledge that before they can show up for others they must show up for themselves and it is the emphasis on self-discovery and personal well-being that opens the doors to connection, collaboration and thus meaningful work. Our students explore, at a very young age, what it means to “know thyself” by recognizing their unique gifts and exploring practices that highlight self-empathy and self-gratitude.

By inviting a child’s inner life into the classroom we are awakening their spirit. A spiritually nourished child is not only ready to learn but it’s the child’s strong spiritual identity that is the catalyst for meaningful work. The catalyst for change!

There are certain stand out elements of the Rainbow Seven Domains Learning Model that help to create favorable conditions for spiritual identity development and the daily centering practice is one of them. This morning ritual serves to awaken the spiritual center of each child, opening pathways to learning. As a centering begins, the classroom is filled with ritual and reverence. These rituals vary from classroom to classroom but the essence of centering is such that the students gather in a circle on a rug, the space is set with intention, the lights are dimmed, a chime or bell invites silence, reverence fills the room, a pause is taken for audible breath work, the invitation of fire through candlelight is summoned- this begins the sacred work of the day. The results are often a harmonious learning environment in which focused thinking come naturally, trust among the group yield effortless work and innovative solutions are manifested.

Recently I joined Lucy and the preschool Dragonflies for centering. The preschool centering ritual leader began by asking his class to put on their mindful bodies and their mindful listening ears. He then told them that he would ring the singing bowl and wanted every person to actively and mindfully listen until they could no longer hear the song of the bell and then to raise their hand when its song was gone. He then used a breathing ball and guided his classmates in three deep inhales and exhales. As the ball expanded he said aloud “inhale” and as it contracted he said “exhale.”

Lucy, then invited the preschoolers to join her in a self-affirming morning verse that was paired with sign language. The kids spoke the words with confidence and enthusiasm… “May I be healthy, may I be strong, may I be happy, may I be peaceful.” I was happy to witness the use of self-affirmations with such young learners. Positive affirmations or positive self-talk are great motivators for self-reflection and self-change. Statements such as these can easily become identity statements. Thus, benefiting not only oneself but those that you interact with.

Lucy deepened the experience by extending the lesson. She went on to explain that each person would have the opportunity to choose a kind wish they have for themselves. She showed and read the kind wish cards aloud and asked to kids to be thinking about which kind wish they wanted for themselves today. When the kids were ready to share, they signaled to Lucy by placing their thumbs on their knees.

She invited each them to approach the altar which was filled with the kind wish cards, candles and the wishing water. The kids were asked to speak their kind wish aloud and in the direction of the wishing water. It was obvious that Lucy had worked hard to create a supportive and safe yet vulnerable space for the Dragonflies as each child spoke, the rest of the group held a quiet space.

Finally, Lucy reminded the children that much like plants need our care to thrive, our intentions and affirmations need that attention too. As the centering practice came to a close, she explained, that she would take the wishing water (filled with their wishes) and send the kind wishes in to the world by watering the plants and that the plant’s health and growth will be a visual reminder of our own personal growth.

If we feed our body, it can grow. If we feed our mind, it can be stimulated. If we nurture our spirit, it can flourish. What daily affirmations will help you flourish? 

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