We have some pretty amazing staff here at Rainbow Community School.
We have so many folks with myriad talents.
This month’s team highlight is Katie Wilson, our 5th grade teaching assistant. You’ll never guess what Katie was able to do last summer.
It all starts with a story about how she found Rainbow in the first place.
How did Katie become a part of the staff at Rainbow?
Katie’s life has been serendipitous! She temporarily relocated to Boone, NC after living abroad. She’d been teaching English in Mexico and returned to the US to continue her teaching career here.
While up in Boone, she found out about an opening in the after school program at Rainbow and decided to take it. Right then, she was working as a nanny part-time.
She loved Rainbow so much, that when the opportunity came to be able to work with Susie in fourth grade as a full-time employee, she jumped at the chance.
Later, she was able to move up with the same students to fifth grade this year.
Earlier in the year, the director from a summer camp where Katie used to work contacted her.
He was leaving his company to focus on retirement and asked if she would be willing to take on directing the summer camp for international students who wanted to learn English.
Katie’s former director worked the business side of the camp while she worked the educational and development side, including overseeing staff.
Knowing that she always wanted to develop her own educational programs, it was a great opportunity.
This past summer, she developed the entire ESL curriculum for the summer camp, as well as all the programming. She also had the pleasure of locating it at Rainbow!
The Summer Camp: Visions USA
The camp operated by recruiting students from Germany, Spain, and Italy who were interested in learning English. It provided an authentic setting in which to learn English as a Second or Other Language, as well as give students an incredible international cultural experience.
Students stayed with local host families and attended English classes in the morning at Rainbow for four days per week, and then engaged in more fun activities in the afternoons.
They spent time volunteering one day per week as part of the program. Volunteer work is an important component of camp programming.
This gave international students a chance to see what the Asheville community was all about, the struggles people faced and provided visiting students with opportunities to give back to the community in which they were living and learning.
Similar to what Rainbow students do during the school year, campers went to Manna, Black Mountain Home for Kids to help with events, volunteered at local high schools, helped to paint a mural, and more.
Fridays were reserved as field days where they would go rafting, to Carrowinds, go on an overnight to see the Atlanta Braves, or other similar activities.
The camp also offered language courses for the host families’ siblings, as well.
What were some things Katie learned about running a summer camp?
The summer camp session of 2017 was incredibly successful.
Students from different countries experienced US culture, and experienced each others’ culture in a supportive environment.
In only three weeks, they became best friends and formed deep friendships that will last well beyond their time at camp.
Katie loved the fact that she was affiliated with Rainbow and how she was able to share the attitudes that Rainbow cultivates, including its teaching styles, with all the international students.
Activities included centering, teaching to the domains, and incorporating positive discipline techniques to students who hadn’t experienced that before.Students can tell that Rainbow Community School is different: they value the whole child. Click To Tweet
The international students could really tell that life at Rainbow was different.
They were accustomed to a more regimented school setting and often remarked about the freedom and support they had.
Were there any challenges you faced as you ran the camp?
Katie reported how it’s interesting that every country and municipality has stereotypes and attitudes that they form about other cultures and people.
She found it necessary to look for ways to get past those preconceived ideas and really reach students to show them that we humans are more alike than we are different.
Overall, however, she had a successful first year as the director of a summer camp right here at Rainbow! She’s already gearing up for the 2018 session.
If you’d like more information about summer camp and even possibly hosting students, check out Visions USA.