Beyond Rainbow Alumni Panel

Here at Rainbow Community School, it is always a pleasure to know about what is happening with our alumni.This time, Rainbow had the honor of having Dunken, Adriana, Geronimo, Mackenzie, Michael, and Zoe share their thoughts and experiences about how the Rainbow experience has impacted their lives during the panel night “Beyond Rainbow.”

Alumni Night

Alumni Night

The panel was a great source for parents to hear from alumni about the student experience and how the Rainbow experience helps shape students’ relationships with the world. This panel enriched our community, increased others’ knowledge of what Rainbow is about, and allowed students to share how they feel about being a part of this community.

Thanks again to Dunken, Adriana, Geronimo, Mackenzie, Michael, and Zoe for being so open and sharing your dreams, experiences, and aspirations. Rainbow Community school is so proud of you!
Rainbow’s Going to State Odyssey of the Mind Competition

Rainbow’s Going to State Odyssey of the Mind Competition

Odyssey of the Mind

Imagine, if you will, a creative competition that allows students to express themselves artistically, physically, emotionally, spiritually – basically, this expression is in alignment with Rainbow’s Seven domains of child development.

Now imagine the pressure of performing for judges, parents and against other schools.

Add to it elements of the creative problem students tackled that students had to include, or otherwise they’d lose points.

Coaches were allowed to advise and guide the teams, but the students had to do all the work. In fact, they had to sign a contract saying that they would not accept outside help as they worked through their projects.

This year at Rainbow, there was so much interest in Odyssey of the Mind or OOTM!

Creative Problem Solving

We started out with four teams in grades 6-8 – they were considered Division II. When it came time to go to competition, we ultimately had two teams that headed to Enka High School to compete against area schools.

There are two parts to the competition. There is the “spontaneous” problem where students get a question and have to answer creatively. The more creative they can be, the more points they can get. Students do not know what question they will get, so they will usually practice a variety of problems beforehand to get used to coming up with answers “on the fly.”

Then, there’s the “long-term” problem. Earlier in the school year, students will choose one of five problems put out by the OOTM folks. They spend every practice session working together to come up with a solution to the problem, working within the limits and parameters that the problem encompasses.

One team did “Pandora’s Box” and one team did “Silent Movie.” Each had an eight-minute time limit.

From the OOTM website, here are the problem synopses:

Pandora’s Box:

In this classics problem, teams will put a video game spin on the story of Pandora’s Box. A gamer character will take on this multi-level game inspired by the Greek myth. The game will include a prologue that depicts the original story of Pandora’s Box, three characters representing different evils that escaped the box, and a power meter that represents the gamer character’s health. To beat the game, the player will advance to the final level where it will release hope into the world.

Silent Movie:

Lights, camera…action! In this problem teams will create and present a performance depicting a Director character that produces and presents a silent movie featuring a humorous villain character that commits three silly acts of “villainy”. Characters that are in the movie may not speak as part of the presentation of the movie. Instead, like classic silent films, the team will use music played on a team-created instrument and creatively displayed subtitles to convey its story to the audience and judges. Also, teams will use a signal to indicate when the movie begins and ends. 

Winning It!

Team 1

Team 1 placed 3rd in their Division, addressing the Silent Movie Problem. After competition day, the team performed for a Rainbow audience. This team really did a great job creating a wonderful and funny “movie.” Take a look at some photos of their performance:

(Click on any image to start a slide show):

Team 2

Team 2 came in 2nd place which means they are going to the state competition!!

They addressed the Pandora’s Box problem and you could tell they really had a lot of fun using their creative talents to put it all together.

Take a look at some of the photos from their performance at Rainbow:

Awards Ceremony

After the performances came the Awards Ceremony. First, special thanks went out to Edward, the OOTM coach, and all the parent volunteers who helped with all the OOTM meetings.

Gratitude goes out to other Rainbow staff and teachers who gave up space, time and otherwise contributed to the success of the groups: Jenny, Justin, Melissa, Pamela, Rachel, Tracie, Jason & Susan.

The 2nd and 3rd place trophies and certificates were incredibly special!


Kaleidoscope February 2015

Kaleidoscope February 2015

2010 May DayHave you been wondering when construction will begin?

Besides everything else going on, there is a large construction project looming on our horizon.

In the background, a team of people have been working hard at getting our construction project off the ground. Jeff Dalton, parent of Sara Grace in 5th grade, and lead architect at Row House Architects, has been preparing the final plans for bidding.

Contractor, Chris Fox, parent of Lily (4th) and Nate (1st), has been generously and courageously acting as construction manager. He has used his practical expertise to think through the plans with us, making sure they meet our needs and budget, and he filed for the permit back in December.

I don’t know what we would have done without these guys, so if you see them say thanks!

Just last week, the city finally turned the permit around, and as soon as they have the names of the general contractor and the subs, we will have a permit. Four contractors are bidding, and their bids are due Thursday. Everyone – keep your fingers crossed, pray, wish, etc.– that the bids will come back within our very specific budget.

The winning contractor will have to start immediately into order to meet our deadline. (Remember, we need to have our new classrooms ready in time for the 2015-16 school year in order to have enough classrooms for everyone next year.)

So what will the next few months be like with a construction project underway?

It will begin with a bang — demolition.

Sometime between March 4 and March 12 an environmental contractor will spend three days removing any materials that contained asbestos or other potentially hazardous materials so that they are removed with the utmost environmental and air quality standards in place – not one particle of friable material is to become air born.

I have never watched this, but in my imagination I see lots of dust-buster style devices sucking every particle of dust up while white-robed technicians remove windows and take dry wall down. ECS has a reputation for being the best and they guarantee the safety of the children and anyone who will be using the building.

It is going to be shocking to have all the downstairs windows out and boarded up! After the environmentally sensitive work is done, the contractor will begin sledge-hammer work, tearing down five structural walls and disposing of materials into huge trash bins. Excavation of the courtyard area will commence, and fill dirt will start piling up.

It’s going to be loud, dirty, and inconvenient…but so satisfying when it is done. There will be days that no one will be allowed in the auditorium, such as when the environmental work is being done downstairs. But for the most part, normal activities will continue right through construction.

Why do we need the extra classroom space so soon?

The big game-changer is the expanded Omega.

The current 8th grade is the last of the small classes from the “old” days of Rainbow. When the current five 8th graders graduate in June, they will be followed by a rising 8th grade class which has 20 students currently, and the rising 7th grade, which also has 20 students.

Therefore, Omega will go from having 25 students this year to having up to 40 students. No longer will Omega be a one homeroom-style classroom. It will require at least two classrooms, and a few smaller rooms available for break out groups, electives, and tutoring.

The original plan was to have 6th grade in the lower level of the community center, but after consideration, the teachers and I realized that it makes more sense for 6th grade to move into the large room that Omega is currently in, and for the New Omega to inhabit the lower level of the community center.

It is going to be exciting to have the whole middle school program on the new campus. The music classroom will be completed during construction. Eventually, a new art room will also be in the lower level.

Expanding Omega

Of course, expanding Omega means hiring a larger teaching staff.

We will be adding a full time Science teacher, and since there is a shortage of Science teachers nationwide, I am extremely pleased at the number of fantastic Science teachers who are applying for the additional lead teacher position in Omega.

We are also adding a full time teacher assistant to Omega, and we have some wonderful applicants for that as well. Sandra and I are busy reading resumes for several positions. We have already had a couple of prospective teachers demonstrate and complete their interviews. Rainbow is very fortunate to be a place where extraordinary people want to work.

Columbia University

Here is something new in my life: I applied to a doctorate program at Columbia University.

Not because I don’t have enough to do, but because the program is project-based, and the replication of Rainbow is the project I am proposing. It is a very competitive program, and a long-shot that I will be accepted, but if it works out, we will have the resources, wisdom, and creditability of Columbia’s Teachers College behind our school!

If I am accepted, I will have to be on campus in New York for three weeks in the summer, and for eight different weekends throughout the school year (almost one weekend per month) for the next two years. They have called me in for an on-campus interview, so I will be in New York for part of this week. Again, it’s a highly competitive program, and the chances of being accepted are very small, but I thought it was worth a try.

My short personal statement for my application can be read HERE.

It is somewhat personal, but I wanted to share it with you. At the end of the statement I reference a quote by John Dewey: “I believe education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.”

Did you know the teachers at Rainbow are working on writing a book?

They are compiling centering techniques and activities into a book that will potentially be called “The Centered Classroom.” Centering is part of the glue that holds our learning community together. Inviting in spirit and sacred space every day, and making that integral to each child’s daily experience is special. Children develop the habit of having a meaningful, daily spiritual practice. Teachers outside of Rainbow have asked how to do centering, so this book is for them.

By the way, centering is open for parents to join.

When I first came to Rainbow it was still a tradition for parents to participate in centering on a regular basis. It is a wonderful way to start your day, so please feel free to stay beyond drop off for centering when you have the chance. It’s not just for kids!

Science Fair was incredible.

Did you get to check it out?! Amazing! Several of the prospective teachers who are applying for the middle school Science position visited Omega during Science fair, including people who had worked at Carolina Day School and Asheville School, and they were exceedingly impressed with the sophistication of our students.

Dance, Drum, Pray on May Day!

Important Date Change: LEAF International is partnering with Rainbow Community School for an awesome global opportunity. In May, we will be hosting an indigenous Costa Rican dancing/drumming group call Proyecto Jirondai from May 4 – May 7, so we are changing our May Day Celebration to May 5, so that they can join us.

I had the honor and good fortune to witness an indigenous spring earth-based celebration when I was in Ecuador, and I know there are some deep similarities in this ritual throughout South America, Central America, and Mexico.

It will be very special having this group with us for May Day. At the end of their residency, the group and several lucky Rainbow students who sign up for the after school special program with Proyecto Jirondai will get to perform with them on stage at LEAF. You will be hearing much more about this groups’ residency. If you want to be a host family, contact Caryn Hanna at 828-768-1826.

Spring is Around the Corner

Spring truly is just around the corner. I hope these cold winter days provided an opportunity to savor the slowness of winter. Winter can be such a trial, but so much growth and learning comes from trials. Soon, your children will be presenting to you at Student Led Conferences. They are young buds, ready to burst forth into blossoming learners and change-makers.



The Annual Rainbow Science Fair

The Annual Rainbow Science Fair

Science Investigations Yield So Many Answers!

Did you ever go to a symposium at a convention center as a kid? Like a space symposium?

Because that’s what the science fair was like. All the classrooms transformed into exposition sites, complete with beautiful posters, and display boards of colorful, imaginative, and quite advanced scientific experiments and investigations last week.

Students On Tour

Every class at Rainbow had a chance to visit other classrooms to see what other students did. In fact, each class played host, and each class visited all the other classrooms on campus and listened while other students presented their work.

Here you can see Omega visiting the fifth grade classroom. Not only were the fifth graders great presenters, but they also had the Omegans quite interested in what they were doing!

In fourth grade, many more fun and innovative projects characterized the classroom. Fourth graders presented to second grade. It’s simply amazing how well fourth grade presented and how attentive second grade was!

Wouldn’t you like to know more about “What does and does not conduct electricity?” Yeah, we were interested, too.

science fair electricity

All around, these projects were quite sophisticated and complex. Each student investigated what interested him or her. To be sure, they take the meaning, “citizen scientist” to a whole new level!

In the video below, we focus on two third grade presenters. Their projects show such in-depth research!

Another third grader looked at hovercraft and if the amount of air in them affected how they float:

science fair third grade

And really, does corn syrup actually make bubbles last longer? You’d think so, right?

science project thirdYou’ll have to ask the third grade to find out! How’s that for a cliffhanger?

Over in Omega, you could get a glimpse into how well you read emotions if you’re not looking at someone’s whole face to take in all the information:

science projects omega

And take a look at the Omega classroom itself. It looked like a veritable convention center of scientists and peers at work!

We have so many more fun photos to share! The photos below are courtesy of Sheila Mraz. She was all over campus snapping photos of all the exhibits and presentations.

And we have a resident photographer on campus! The following photos were taken by Ban, one of our Omega students!

You can really capture a glimpse of the breadth, scope and sophistication of these science projects. They’re a big deal around here.

Now, if you have any questions, just ask one of our citizen scientists!