Rainbow Community School’s educational approach addresses the needs of the whole child’s mind, body and spirit. The curriculum weaves multiple intelligence theory, essential learning skills and the seven domains into a rich tapestry that incorporates mythic archetypes and inspires curiosity. In addition to these cornerstones, other features that make Rainbow unique include:
Daily centering practice is a part of every Rainbow classroom. This is a special time where children are encouraged to find their center, their source of personal power and wisdom, before undertaking the lessons and explorations of the day. Simple, contemplative techniques, such as meditative breathing help students focus. Moral and character education is a part of most centering, and it is here that children begin to understand their role in community. When graduates are asked what they miss most about their Rainbow experience, many place centering high on their list.
Service Learning/Community Service
Service learning helps students improve academically and develop personal skills through service projects that meet community needs. By playing a significant role in designing, planning, and implementing their community service projects, students develop practical skills, self esteem and a sense of civic responsibility.
Classes work with nonprofit organizations such as a local food bank, the Honduran Relief Project, Rescue Mission, and geriatric day care. This past year, Rainbow adopted the local non-profit Children First/Communities in Schools. We donated a significant portion of our fall fundraising event to Children First and most classes made and sold crafts to support the effort at our winter program. Each class found a meaningful way to collaborate with Children First: from the mitten drive preschool held to the tutoring 7th and 8th grade students provided at the Deaverview Housing Project. By the time students leave Rainbow, a culture of philanthropy and service is a part of their way of being.
Positive Approach to Discipline
In the classroom and throughout the school, we employ the principles of Positive Discipline developed by Jane Nelson, Ed.D. This approach draws from the exceptional theories of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Driekurs, who believed that all people, even children, should be treated with dignity and respect.
Positive Discipline teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is respectful to both adults and children. According to this approach, a misbehaving child is a discouraged child; encouragement is used as the basic motivator rather than blame or shame. Positive Discipline builds genuine self-esteem and empowers children by teaching self-control and responsibility.
“Specials” classes at Rainbow include Spanish, Physical Education, Art, and Music — all taught by specialists in their field. In addition, all of these subjects are also integrated into the regular classroom as much as possible.
After School Opportunities and Athletics
The after school program offers a variety of activities, classes, and clubs that change over time. After school activities are in the areas of the arts (such as drama, crafts, etc), outdoors and kinesthetics (such as yoga, natural awareness, gardening, soccer shots), intellectual opportunities (robotics, Odyssey of the Mind, electronics, chess). Additionally, team sports are offered for 5th – 8th graders, with flag football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and soccer in the spring. We are in the Hospitality League with eight other schools that compete with wholesome good sportsmanship. Girls on the Run is typically offered for girls grades 3rd – 8th.
Independent Research Projects and Business Plans
Starting in the fourth grade students have an opportunity each year to pursue a topic of their choice in great depth. They have to be resourceful, creative, and highly skilled in order to research their topic, present it to their peers, and implements a creative piece of it. At the Omega level, one of the requirements it to write a five page MLA-cited paper along with the project, which is excellent preparation for high school. New this year, the 6th grade at Rainbow is experimenting with replacing the Independent Research Project with Socially Beneficial Business plans. Students will write business plans and have the opportunity to receive a small “grant” to implement a business that is either non-profit or for-profit, but socially beneficial. Being located on Haywood Road, in the heart of West Asheville, provides students with the chance to market to the wider community.
Multicultural and Earth-Based Celebrations
At Rainbow Community School, celebrations are treasured as times to deepen our bonds of community, to explore the magic and mystery of other cultures, and to awaken to our connection with the Earth, her creatures and seasonal rhythms. Celebrations encourage our children to express their natural creativity. Annual events include Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos, Winter Solstice and various winter holidays, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Earth Day, and May Day. Additional celebrations may be honored that reflect students’ various interests and cultural/religious backgrounds.
Field trips are an integral part of the curriculum at RCS because they expose students to many new experiences and environments. Outdoor learning opportunities are common, and children enjoy exploring our mountainous and urban habitat.
Almost without exception, Rainbow students make an excellent impression wherever they go. We usually receive feedback on their exemplary behavior and the intelligence of their questions. We are often asked if Rainbow is a “school for gifted children.”
Counselors-in-training (CITs) are Omega students who work with preschoolers in the summer session. In this optional program, interested middle schoolers can develop skills working with younger children while earning some spending money at the same time.
CITs assist preschool teachers by organizing and cleaning up around the classroom, reading stories, and helping the children solve problems. But the biggest benefit may result from the special combination of ages that often encourages friendships throughout the school year.