Kaleidoscope: The many colorful things happening at Rainbow, from the Executive Director
November is here; it feels like life is being squeezed into shorter days. Classrooms have established their mascot names. Relationships have formed. Academic units are rolling along. What is your child’s school experience so far this year? Has he or she attached to his/her teachers? Is she feeling some success in all the domains? November conferences are just around the corner, and that will be a good time to get a feel from your teacher’s perspective. Will Ray, director of counseling, is also available (extension #430, email@example.com) if you sense that there may be a need for some extra intervention, or if you need guidance as a parent.
The Hoedown was a huge success in every way. The core team of Stephanie Cody, Jenny Hatcher, and Lisa Sullivan totally rocked the planning. The band rocked the stage. And parent council and all the volunteers made it all happen. The Hoedown netted $4,967! Did you go through the haunted house? Did you do the scary tour or the not-so-scary? Aren’t those Omega students clever? They put all that together in only one day.
El Dia de los Muertos was beautiful. Thank you to Oscar and Laura (parents of Tona in Kindergarten) for making this year’s celebration especially sweet and gorgeous, and for sharing your tradition. I have never seen such a beautiful Day of the Dead altar.
Speaking of beautiful, I just finished writing a new Heart of the Matter on BEAUTY, and the place that beauty has in a holistic education. It will be in your box, and you can read it here. It is a revised version of a shorter essay I wrote last year. How much beauty is in your life?
XQ Super School: The Next High School? You have all heard of IQ. Most likely you have heard of EQ (emotional intelligence), and you may have heard of SQ (spiritual intelligence). Now there is XQ! The XQ Super School competition is a nation-wide grant contest, calling for “audacious” high school designs that completely scrap the current, obsolete model of education and start over. Steve Job’s widow, Lauren Jobs, is donating $50 million dollars, with the intention of awarding five winning High Schools $10 million each. Obviously, this is a bit of a long shot, but when I received an email with a link to the XQ website, I felt called to give it a try. West Willmore sent me that fated email, and she is coordinating the application with me. The XQ rules require that the school be a public school, and we are not sure how the XQ people plan to merge “audacious” school designs with “government controlled.” If that is actually realistic, it would be great, because it will ensure that the high school will serve a diverse population, especially those who most need it. Free is awesome! We are putting together a great team of people who have expertise in many areas. The concept we are working on has a mission and holistic approach similar to Rainbow: To develop change leaders who are prepared to build a world that is socially just, spiritually fulfilling, and environmentally sustainable. Maybe “spiritually fulfilling” is more “audacious” than the XQ Super School grant is looking for? We will see. I will update you more on this process in upcoming Kaleidoscopes.
Got justice? The current Rainbow Mission Statement reads: To develop accomplished, confident, and creative learners who are prepared to be leaders in a compassionate and environmentally sustainable world. The board has been working very hard on finishing the revised strategic plan, and within that work, the idea of adding “socially just” to the last part of the mission statement has come up. What is your reaction to that? Do you want to be preparing your child to help create a world that is socially just? Some of the representative faculty members who discussed this issue wanted to make sure Rainbow can really walk that talk if we adopt socially just into our mission. What would we have to do to be more socially just as an organization? As a private school?
Racial Equity is currently the biggest issue of discussion amongst the faculty right now. We have about a dozen faculty members taking the Building Bridges course right now. Plus, we are doing some in house trainings on structural racism, and last night we discussed how each of us develop in terms of racial identity as we mature and become more dedicated to justice.
What can you do as a parent? I strongly advise taking the Building Bridges course. It is life changing. It’s a nine-week course, starting on January 25, on Mondays; from 7 – 9pm. It’s only $35! Besides providing a wealth of information, this course brings people of multiple races together to have open, honest conversations about race. Asheville has become known, sadly, as a very segregated city, but Building Bridges is working to change that. You will be so glad you made the commitment to be a part of the change, by signing up here for the next Building Bridges course.
How else can you help? Speaking of social justice, the annual campaign is one of the most important tools we have toward becoming a more socially just organization. Besides simply paying the bills, it helps us keep tuition down and provides financial aid, so we can have a more diverse and equitable school. We are fortunate to have much more socio-economic diversity at Rainbow than most private schools, so we recognize the amount each family can donate is very different for everyone here.
My goal for this year and years to come: To spend more of my time on making Rainbow the best school it can be, and less time on fundraising. You can help by turning in your annual campaign pledge early! Similar to public radio station campaigns, the sooner we meet the $80,000 goal, the sooner we can end the campaign– greatly saving on staff time, resources, and on how many times you have to hear about it. Don’t delay! Pledge today! (Also, like radio stations, you only need to pledge now, and pay later.) We definitely want to meet that goal before the Winter Program, so that we don’t have to interrupt that precious programming to talk about the annual campaign.
An Original ! The winter program is going to be made up of ALL original music written by Sue Ford and students. The faculty had their first practice for our faculty performance, and it made my heart sing. I can’t wait to share it with you.
What Happens “Over the Rainbow?” The Middle School Open House included a panel of alumni students that was wonderful and heartwarming. We put a call out on Facebook asking for Rainbow alumni to participate, and had two very full panels of high school students who were eager to talk about their high school experience and how Rainbow prepared them. I have immense respect for these students, whom I consider to be some of the most wonderful people on Earth. Soon, there will be a videotape of the panel posted on our website. Look for a link on Rainbow Reminders.
It’s Easy Being Green! Zhenya Fomin, dad of Misha in preschool, installs green roofs for a living. He has generously offered to install a green roof at Rainbow. It is time to start “rainbow-izing” the new campus, so we chose the walkway roof that goes between 6th grade and the east-side door to the auditorium. Zhenya plans on doing the install very soon!
More Green: We are honored to receive TWO grants from the Arboretum: Inspire and Explore. One grant is supporting the teachers and students in citizen science projects, where every class is conducting science research and collecting data for large data banks for scientific researchers around the world. Ask your teacher what your child’s class is doing for citizen science. The other grant is providing funds and help to install a nature trail and a pollinator garden on the new campus. That installation is now scheduled to be in late winter.
Change is in the Air ! With Hoedown and El Dia de los Muertos behind us, we have properly celebrated the height of autumn, which brings changes in the weather and the soul. In our American culture, which is so often centered on the individual, I look forward each year to Thanksgiving, when we celebrate our gratitude for others. In centering in Omega, the students reflect on a quote every day. I just found one from Dietrick Bonhoeffer: “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” I joined Omega for centering yesterday, which was being led by a student. Everyone was asked to share one thing that they are unhappy about with a partner, so that our partner could then provide us with at least six things we could smile about. My partner shared that she is very sad about this being her last year at Rainbow. I gave this bright student many reasons to smile. For one, she gets to go out into the world and share the beauty and love she has received here at Rainbow with others, and she is truly prepared to do that. That is something to be grateful for. All of us here are very rich.