Asheville’s oldest alternative school enters a time of renewal. We are transitioning our name to Rainbow Community School, but, to avoid confusion and ensure continuity we will continue to also use the name Rainbow Mountain Children’s School for a number of years. Founded as “Rainbow Mountain Children’s School” in 1977, we have a long legacy of serving families who share a vision for “developing accomplished, creative, and confident learners who are prepared to be leaders in developing a more compassionate and environmentally sustainable future.” Affectionately known as simply “Rainbow,” the school has a wide reputation for being an incredibly nurturing and magical place for children ages three through eighth grade. What some didn’t know is that the quality of the academic curriculum at Rainbow has evolved into the rigorous, top-quality program it is today – in our opinion, the most sophisticated curriculum in the southeastern region of the country. Few schools are able to strike such a poised balance between honoring the true nature of children and their natural development, while also consistently challenging them to become advanced scholars; and all the while developing them into moral, mindful humans.
This level of sophistication was the vision of the Rainbow Board when they hired Renee Owen as executive director in 2007. For the majority of the last decade Renee has been cultivating the Rainbow faculty into the brilliant team they are today – almost all with masters degrees, many with degrees or special programming from schools such as Emory, Cornell, Harvard, Brown, Duke, Elon, and NYU. What truly makes this group of individuals special, however, is their character, creativity, and passion – they are well-loved by their students and parents. With this talent, Rainbow has created the unique and high quality program it is today. With our dream team (as Renee calls it) hired and the educational program in place, the Rainbow team has entered the next phase of our renewal: vast campus renovation and expansion that includes the recent purchase of more property, an additional building, and a new, fantastical playground designed by Max Mraz, called the Gnome Village. From Haywood Road, one would never guess how large and beautiful the campus is. However, with the dramatic increase in enrollment, we are embarking on doubling the size of the campus –adding a performance hall, athletic field, and extensive green space for permaculture projects. We have already purchased the adjacent property and buildings at 60 State Street (formerly West Asheville Church of God) — making our campus 5 acres, and now we beginning fundraising and renovating to fill the new space.
So why the name conversion? During strategic planning, some parents pointed out that our name, “Rainbow Mountain Children’s School” sounded like a preschool, and didn’t indicate that we serve children through middle school. Plus, while the name captured the heart of the school, they were concerned that it didn’t properly convey what a highly credible academic institution it is. We considered changing the name completely, but after extensive research and consideration it became clear that “Rainbow” is our identity and legacy. After all, as a holistic school, our philosophy is to educate children in the Seven Domains: Spiritual, Mental, Creative, Emotional, Social, Natural, and Physical – each representing a color of the Rainbow. Plus, after 37 years, as one person said, “Your name is your name!”
While “Rainbow” describes the philosophy and spirit of the school, “Community” captures the culture of the school. Over and over children and parents cite the caring, compassionate relationships as the reason the school is such a wonderful place for children to grow up. It’s the community that makes the magic happen. Plus, the new vision for Rainbow is to integrate more with the larger community of Asheville, specifically West Asheville. Therefore, Rainbow Community School/Rainbow Mountain Children’s School now adopts a local nonprofit each year. Last year we worked with Children First/Communities in Schools. It was deeply gratifying to donate a portion of our fall and winter fundraising events proceeds to them, and all the classes did service projects with them too – everything from preschoolers conducting a mitten drive to the middle school students tutoring for after school programs in public housing programs. With Rainbow’s new facility goals, we envision further serving the community by offering various classes for Asheville families, and a performance hall and office/studio spaces available to local non-profits and artists. The vision is very exciting, and the new name captures the intent and evolution of Rainbow. As one parents said, “I feel like the best of our history is being reborn into a new school, and the new name and brand represent that!”
The team at Rainbow is grateful to Elly Wells Marketing and Mark Wilson for the energetic and visionary work they did in creating our new logo. Just like our school, the new logo does something no other logo we know of can do: It changes. Rainbow Community School embraces innovative design thinking, or a systems approach, in which adaptability is valued. Therefore, our new logo is adaptable. It is made of up tiles that can change color and can move around into different patterns, yet still be recognizable as “Rainbow Community School.” That is how we approach the education of children – each child is a unique individual, making up every color of the Rainbow, and together, we make a community. No matter which name you prefer to call us by — our legal name “Rainbow Mountain Children’s School” or “Rainbow Community School,” we are the same holistic school.