May Day 2017

May Day 2017

Come celebrate the return of the faeries with us this May Day from 10:30am to 12:00pm in the Outdoor Classroom on Haywood Road!

We will celebrate the magic of spring by dancing together, wrapping the May Pole, eating berries-n-cream, blowing bubblles, bursting with song, and reveling in our bright costumes. We invite you to come dressed up in fairy, magical, and animal inspired outfits. We can’t wait to see you sparkle! If you feel inspired to, we also welcome you to bring small gifts to place in the nooks of nature for the faeries and their houses.

Beltane, or May Day, lies directly opposite Halloween in the solar calendar. Both mark the point between the preceeding equinox and the following solstice. The holidays mirror each other as opportunities both to interact with magic beings, wether ghostly ancestors or trickster faeries, as well as to mark a major shift in our relationshiop to the sun, wether we’re moving towards the shadows or turning towards the warmth of light.

Thank you for coming to celebrate this bright, flowering, new beginning of springtime with us! This is one of our favorite holidays we celebrate and we cant wait to share it with you. Check out our pictures from years previous to get a sense of the festive magic involved ♥.

The Gift of a Shrine

The Gift of a Shrine

Quan Yin is a Buddhist deity of compassion. Her spiritual archetype, however, exists across many different religions and cultures. Mother Mary within Christianity and Sophia within Gnosticism, for example, represent similiar all-loving and all-merficul qualities. Many beautiful art pieces, theater skits, short stories and community projects were born out of Domain Day. This one, however, stands out as a unique integration of the creative and spiritual domains beautifying and uplifting our campus.

The Spiritual Domain Group designed and built this shrine with Quan Yin as its center piece. She had long stood by the water-feature in the outdoor classroom, before Rainbow teachers and Spiritual Domain Group leaders, Mark Hanf and Justin Pilla, spotted her and felt her to be the perfect point of inspiration from which to build a shrine. After having smudged the area with sage, the dozen students began by placing their own personal artifacts within the center of an imaginary circle. Students then took turns placing the large rocks in a measured and intentional formation to mark the boundary of the shrine. Max had been gathering these large obelisk- and sphere-shaped stones over the course of several visits to the same enchanted forrest creek. The mindfulness with which every piece of this altar was put together cast a spell of wonder over the young spiritualists. In between building the shrine, they picked up instruments from a blanket lined with shakers and hand drums to accompany the ceremony with music.

In its second year as an ‘annual Rainbow celebration’ Domain Day has received extremely positive feedback from students and teachers alike. Within a small multi-age group, students get to spend a whole day focusing on a domain they feel passionate about. They can choose between the physical, natural, social, emotional, creative, mental, and spiritual domains. This intentional time spent with teachers who have also been called to that particular domain gives students the opportunity to embody that domain more fully. And because each domain is connected, and linked to the greater whole, a student’s comfort in one domain inherently empowers their understanding of the others. In this domain group’s case, each student was able to embody the spiritual domain’s cornerstones of ritual, world religions, contemplation, and communion with the natural world, while simultaneously working through the challenges and gifts of the creative, social, and natural domains.

Thank you, Spiritual Domain Group, for leaving behind this radiant evidence of your connection to spirit. You have altered our space and given us a sanctuary at which to breath and center. We invite all who stop by our campus to visit Quan Yin, and if inspired, to leave her a token of gratitude.

‘Voices of the River’ Contest Winners

‘Voices of the River’ Contest Winners

Congratulations to Rainbow students Cady in second grade, and Isabella and Kafira in fifth grade! Earlier this year these young artists submitted poems and paintings to River Link‘s ‘Voices of the River Art and Poetry Contest’. And then just a few days ago, on Saturday morning, they were honored with their awards at RiverLink’s Earth Day Kids Festival! As first place winners, their art stood out to the local artists acting as judges for its design, composition, and originality. This year the PreK through 12th grade students who submitted their art were invited to make art in answer to the question, how are you connected to your watershed? Thank you so much to River Link for your support in connecting our love of the Earth with our passion of the arts.

Blending the Sacred and the Science: Communing with the natural world

Blending the Sacred and the Science: Communing with the natural world

On April 22, 2017 billions of people worldwide will commune with the Earth through a variety of celebratory activities honoring Earth Day! Earth Day, started in 1970 is the largest secular holiday- celebrated by more 193 countries. Although observed to provoke environmental awareness, action and policy changes, RCS sees Earth Day as an opportunity to pay respect to the sacred bond between nature and humanity.

Earth Day is everyday at RCS! The natural world serves as an important teacher in the lives of all our students. This connection is emphasized in our mission to “develop accomplished, confident, and creative learners who are prepared to be compassionate leaders in building a socially just, spiritually connected, and environmentally sustainable world” and serves as one of our 12  guiding principles “through understanding nature we understand ourselves therefore the learning environment extends into the natural world, the greater community. A relationship with Nature yields stewardship.” 

The natural domain is also one of the Seven RCS Learning Domains that shapes our holistic model. Growth and development in the natural domain is nurtured through various learning experiences that become part of daily routines and rituals. Please see the table below for the learning goals and descriptors.

 

We also strive to nurture deep nature-student relationships through various nature based centering practices that emphasize this spiritual learning goal:

Communion with the natural world: Understanding our interconnection with the natural world. Cultivating a reverence for Life. The Natural World serves as our teacher and guide as we explore our inner selves. 

Additionally, RCS’s mascot happens to be The Rainbow Warrior. The legend of the Rainbow Warrior names the warrior as a protector of Mother Earth. In this legend, there will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences  and will band together- unified. Like the colors of the rainbow, they will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time. Great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish. If you wish to read more about why we chose the Rainbow Warrior as our mascot and the legend in full please click here.

Everyday at RCS is Earth day. This incredible reverence and respect for the natural world permeates our curriculum and our culture. We all have a stake in caring for this Earth – is some cases it is a religious value, in others a moral responsibility or a matter of equity. The RCS holistic model specifically emphasizes nurturing environmental stewards that have a intimate, empathic and sacred connection with the Earth. It is through this empathy and connection from which they solve environmental problems. Additionally, by cultivating a sense of the divine or sacred in nature than it has the power to become a life-long spiritual teacher.

Kaleidoscope: March 2017

Kaleidoscope: March 2017

Kaleidoscope - The Many Colorful Things Happening at RCS, from the Executive Director

March 2017

Welcome to spring at Rainbow Community School! It’s a time of joyful activity, like overnight field trips and lots of celebrations and feasts. For teachers this can be a bitter sweet time. Last night, one teacher reflected that by this time of year her class is so cohesive and productive, and she has gotten to know them so well, that she gets sad to think the year will be ending soon. It’s a time to capture as much learning as possible, while the children are in top-notch learning mode.

What I learned about emotions
Our most recent celebration, Annual Domain Day, took place on St. Patrick’s Day this year. Students chose one domain to explore and then spent the whole day playing games, working through challenges, and diving into discussions that brought out the essence of that particular domain. One very unique aspect about Domain Day is how students spend their day learning, problem-solving, and creating in multi-age groups. Separated from many of their usual cohorts, students open up to connecting with children of different grades, forging friendships while doing Qigong, making up skits, and tracing pinecones. By the end of the day children have a sense of their position along the Rainbow path. The change in routine acts as a change in perspective, and many children are more willing to try new things and to stretch their limits than usual.

Everyone teaches on Domain Day, including Max and administrators, so students also get the treat of experiencing new teachers. This is a gift of a day for faculty and staff as well. Every single faculty and staff member works to make Domain Day happen, and the passion, effort, and collaboration needed to organize it is thrilling, uniting, and deeply meaningful for us all. Personally, I helped to lead the emotional domain group, and I learned so much! Admittedly, the emotional domain can be a challenge for me. Naming emotions and expressing them is not my strength. But I learned from a third grader that if I am having trouble expressing an emotion, cat sounds can be very effective! Try it! Meow! Purr… Scratch! I also learned something profound from a fourth-grade student who said that if we drew a venn diagram, we could describe emotions as what occurs as the connection between physical sensations and thoughts.

My experiences on Domain Day this year confirmed what I am always saying; what I love about working at Rainbow is how we adults learn as much, or even more, from the children as they do from us!

What does it mean to be an organization that promotes social justice?
I encourage you to click here to view my interpretation of the board’s Ends Policy, which reads, “To promote social justice.” As a parent do you agree that the ambitious ends and ongoing goals listed in this document are worthwhile endeavors? For example, how do you feel about integrating social justice into our curriculum and culture so deeply that age-appropriate conversations about class privilege and racial injustice become comfortable? I am also curious if you think it is possible for an organization to remain politically neutral, while simultaneously promoting social justice? Personally, I think the answer to this question is to focus on positions, not people. For example, if we were to discuss an anti-immigration law in the context of social justice, we would focus on the law itself, and not on the politicians making the law. We actually already teach this technique to our students as part of a conflict mediation process and it works to help choose accountability over blame. How do you navigate questions of politics and justice with your children?

Speaking of immigration…
Like virtually every school community and organization in the country, we have people who are undocumented immigrant parents who have a child, or children, who were born as legal US citizens. 66% of all undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for over 10 years, becoming embedded parts of the fabric of our communities. These parents are terrified that they will be arrested and that their child will be taken by DSS to be turned over to foster care while at school. Can you imagine having such a fear while dropping off your child at school every day? In April CIMA (Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción) will be holding a training for local teachers to understand how they can provide sanctuary for their immigrant students and support their families in times of immense uncertainty. Some of our Rainbow teachers will be in attendance, so they can learn to protect our students and families. I hope this information is helpful. By supporting those who are most vulnerable, we become stronger as a united community.

Thank You for showing up to support those in need!
I am so excited to share that the first year of the Voluntary Equitable Tuition (VET) program got off to a great start! So far, 48 people(families?) signed up to participate, raising more than $17,000 that will go towards financial aid, helping to make Rainbow a more equitable and inclusive organization. That is a great start. Those of you who participated not only gave other families the opportunity to experience a great education, but you also made those of us who work here feel so incredibly grateful to be a part of such a wonderful community. THANK YOU!

Meet the neighbors
As you know, Rainbow purchased the house and ½ acre at 29 Allen St with plans to rent it out until needed for school use. I am pleased to announce that a Rainbow family is now our tenant. Scott and Becca Hardin-Nieri, and their children Olivia (7th grade) and Nicholas (4th grade) moved in on March 1. Welcome! If your child forgets something on the playground, now you know who to call. (Just kidding.) But that’s not it. 29 Allen Street has another “renter” too. Sunil Patel of Patchwork Urban Farms (PUF) will be organically farming the land on that property. PUF is a brilliant project aimed at creating sustainable local food sources. Sunil’s “farm” is made up of a patchwork of lots located all around town which he farms with the various land owners’ permission. Having PUF at Rainbow will be educational for the children and good for our community. In addition, it will save us on the fossil fuels and noise pollution mowing that lot would have required in the first place! PUF is another example of how great ideas (and a lot of love and hard work) really can save the Earth.

I am becoming a four-legged, and also more hip
During spring break, I am having arthroscopy surgery on my left hip. It is not a hip replacement. However, it can actually be a more difficult recovery than a hip replacement. I will not be able to return to work until about April 11, and I will still be on crutches by the end of April. I apologize for any inconvenience that may occur due to my absence and limited mobility. Our campus is very challenging for those with mobility issues, so this will be a good opportunity for me to experience that first-hand. It’s always good to develop empathy for one another! Good thing I learned so much from those children on Domain Day and now understand my emotions better than I used to!

The theme for spring: everything changes! I hope your spring provides plenty of exploration for you and your children, including plenty of time in the glorious outdoors to experience the physical changes all around. When you have a minute, I invite you to save a special moment to talk about internal changes with your families too. We all grow. We all change. But our children do so at an alarming and magnificent rate with a magic and exuberance all their own.

This Monday, Grandparent’s & Elder’s Day!

This Monday, Grandparent’s & Elder’s Day!

We invite all of our Rainbow grandparents and special elders to a welcoming celebration and performance in the auditorium at 10:30am on Monday, April 24th.

We are so excited to welcome our grandparents and elders onto campus for this special day. During the school year we foster multi-age connections through all-school ceremonies and classroom-partnership projects. It is a special honor, however, to welcome into our world of children the elders who helped create them. RSVP by emailing Kate, our Office Manager, at info@rainbowlearning.org.

Thank you in advance for your time, visit, and generous presence. Your grandchildren have been preparing for your arrival all week and can’t wait to share the wonder of their learning with you.