Kaleidoscope – May 2023

Kaleidoscope – May 2023


The Hero’s Journey

As IMAGINE, our Spring school-wide performance quickly approaches, I find myself frequently returning to the arch of the hero’s journey in several aspects of our school programming. May Day invites us to cross a threshold from the ordinary to the extraordinary world where costumes, dancing, and berries and cream fill our morning with joyful fellowship. This ritual also marks a movement into the final weeks of school filled with trials of character and adventure. End of year trips, performances, learning celebrations and more. Finally, we arrive at graduation. The ultimate ritual of accomplishment and reflection. Yes, this is a full and emotional time for our young heroes. Let us guide them with wisdom, heart, and love. May the magic of the journey surround us all.

End of Year Trips: A Rite of Passage

A long standing ritual at Rainbow is the End of Year Trip. In our upper elementary and middle school programming, students experience the power of traveling together and immersing themselves in a different learning environment. Typically, this involves an expeditionary learning experience set in the natural world. From canoeing to dichotomous keys, barrier islands to wildlife preserves, the students are challenged to take positive risks, embrace environmental action, and build lasting relationships and memories with their Rainbow community.

Jubilee: Allies Along the Way

No quest is possible without allyship. I am pleased to announce a new partnership for Rainbow with Jubilee, a local nondenominational church in the Asheville community. For the past several months, I have been working with the Board and congregation of Jubilee to consider rental of Rainbow for their Sunday service and other evening gatherings. We hosted a trial event back in February, gathered feedback from Rainbow staff, and have found ourselves in a place of deep alignment. Their mission, “As a compassionate and inclusive spiritual community, Jubilee! celebrates the divine mystery in all of creation and calls each of us toward a heart-centered, compassionate, equitable and sustainable way of living and being,” echoes the principles and values of Rainbow Community School. The sale of Jubilee’s building downtown finalized our partnership. We are humbled and happy to be their “home” as they embark on their own challenges and transformations ahead. Their first service on Rainbow’s campus will be held May 21, 2023. Their website is filled with detailed information about their values, history, and more for folks who are interested. Jubilee and Rainbow are hoping to host an open event for both of our communities in June to celebrate this partnership. More details will be shared as available.

An Evening of Visioning: Every Quest Needs A Map

In my last Kaleidoscope, I shared that the Board has created a Futures Planning Committee to guide our facilities planning. On April 18th, a cross section of the community gathered with Altura Architects, to engage in a hands-on mapping activity for our entire campus. It was inspiring to see and hear all of the ideas and themes emerging for campus design. The Futures Planning Committee will meet next week with Altura to learn more about how the ideas from our community meeting will inform a more comprehensive and unified vision for our future.

IMAGINE: “Lets See What Happens”

On May 19th we will gather for a school-wide performance. We will be guided on a hero’s journey that incorporates vignette performances from each grade level. To help you prepare, here are some important general details. Classroom teachers will share more specifics, as needed.

Morning Performance:

Begins at 10:30am. Doors to the auditorium will open at 10:15am. Please be prepared to wait in your car or outside until the doors open. This gives us time to be sure we are fully set before audience members arrive.

This is the only performance including preschool and Kindergarten students. Families of this age should plan to attend in the morning only unless you have an older child.

Evening Performance:

Begins at 6:00pm. Doors to the auditorium will open at 5:45pm. Please be prepared to wait in your car or outside until the doors open. This gives us time to be sure we are fully set before audience members arrive.

This performance is for 1st-8th grade families. Students in first through fifth grade will be performing along with Omega students that elected to be part of the program..

This event is special and we are excited to share it with the community. Our auditorium seating is tight when we all gather. Please consider priority for your immediate family and limit additional guest invites. The morning performance will be recorded and shared with families.

Student Led Conferences: Everyone has a story to tell

On June 5th, Kindergarten through 8th grade families will be invited to participate in a student-led conference. Their child will guide them through the story of their school year by reflecting on their growth in the domains, sharing highlights from their experiences and artifacts from their journey. These conferences provide an intimate space for child and family to inquire, celebrate, and affirm the growth and development of a year of learning. As a teacher, I was always grateful to have this time for each child to speak their story and to be witnessed and honored in the process.

Graduation: A Ritual of Transition

Preschool will celebrate their end-of-year ceremony on June 5th at 9:30am, a sweet celebration that marks the natural progression for our littlest learners. On June 6th, Kindergarten through 8th grade families are invited to a graduation ceremony that will feature speeches from each graduating 8th grade student and an opportunity for each child to speak a memory from their school year. It is a powerful culmination of student voice, transformation, and transition. Several members of the graduating class have been at Rainbow since early childhood. We plan to host this gathering on the Athletic field starting at 6:00pm.

Community: The Cast of Characters Is Far and Wide

From Grandfriend’s Day to Spring Fling and Parent Council to Board service, this time of year embodies an inherent spirit of gratitude. Rainbow couldn’t thrive without all of you giving your time, wisdom, energy and support to all aspects of our programming. My heart is consistently overwhelmed by the beauty of this community.

Administration welcomes your feedback to help us continue to grow, learn, and develop. Our annual Family Survey is an excellent way for your voice to contribute to our evolution. Your contributions are anonymous and are reviewed alongside staff and student anonymous surveys. We thank you for taking the time to share your perspectives.


Yours In Partnership and Appreciation for the Journey,

Susie Fahrer,
Executive Director

Kaleidoscope – May 2023

Kaleidoscope – March 2023


Blooming Seeds

Working with a school based schedule, I often find my rhythm is deeply entrenched with thresholds built into our school calendar. As Spring Break quickly approaches, I feel the potential of the upcoming season with so many seeds from the school year beginning to bloom. Science Fair and PIP (Personal Interest Project) talks are just the beginning of student learning and celebration on display. The final months of the year invite several opportunities to gather for fellowship and celebration of the learning journey we have taken together this year. 

While our focus is wholeheartedly on finishing this school year with integrity and presence, this is also a time of visioning ahead. This month’s Kaleidoscope will share several ways we are visioning forward as an institution. 

Visioning Staff Transitions and Changing Roles

For our staff, this is typically the time of year that finalizes changes in roles and sometimes creates opportunities for new professionals to join our community. Below are a few shifts that we are excited to share with you for the 23-24 school year. 

Josie HobanFirst Grade Assistant Teacher: We are excited to celebrate Josie Hoban’s decision to explore a new professional path. She will be joining the team at Asheville Community Yoga to help develop and lead their Children’s Yoga Program. We are so grateful for all the love, care, and community Josie has helped build at Rainbow over the years, and we look forward to opportunities for partnership in the future. We will begin the search process for a new First Grade Assistant after Spring Break.

donnaThird Grade Assistant Teacher: We have loved having Donna Paxon with us this past year. Her joyful presence, heartfelt leadership, and quiet wisdom have been a huge asset to the third grade classroom and our broader community. We wish Donna well as she explores new ways to grow as a professional beyond Rainbow. We will begin the search process for a new Third Grade Assistant after Spring Break.

Omega ⅞ Team: We have a few shifting roles in our Omega team. To begin, Richard is off to a grand adventure taking advantage of his dual citizenship and moving to Scotland. He has professed that if herichard_risbridger could take Rainbow with him he would, and at the very least I am sure we will have some great pen pal opportunities in our future. Niki will be transitioning to a new role within the team. She will continue to teach mathematics and will be the primary coordinator for the diverse middle school programming that provides a natural counterpart to the academic coursework. This includes field trips, addiction and sex education, expeditionary learning, dances, community service and more. This is a role currently held by Lisa who will be reducing her time to serve exclusively in her capacity as a Spanish teacher. We will be hiring for Omega after Spring Break.

Max MrazFacilities Team:  Our long time Facilities Director, Max Mraz, has embarked on a new passion project with his family. They purchased some land and are building a wedding and event venue. This project has captured their heart and we can’t wait to watch it unfold. This has made room for Shaun Fain to advance to the role of Facilities Director and Eddie McCassim to take on a formal support role within our facilities team.

Hiring is a dynamic process at Rainbow. We use all types of outreach to attract high quality candidates that will help manifest the vision and mission of Rainbow. This process includes interviews with administrators, teachers, and demonstration experiences in the classroom. We will share updates about new hires as decisions are finalized in the coming weeks.

Visioning Resources for Federal Funding

As we look ahead to next year, we are also considering programmatic planning that needs our attention. Recently, families in K-6 received an outreach from Margaret Gerleve asking for some household income information. Please review this outreach and if you qualify, please return the forms by March 31, 2023. This is a wonderful way for our school to access funding that goes directly to student programming and teacher professional development.

Visioning for Living Our Mission

One of the things I deeply appreciate about our community is our ability to be flexible and compassionate. When Covid began we released some long standing traditions in support of fundamental wellness needs. We are now beginning the process of re-establishing these cultural norms. 

  • Technology– Computers provided a life-line to our community as children accessed education and social opportunities while in isolation. That being said, we are now ready to recalibrate our relationship with technology as a community in hopes of supporting moderation, meaning, and purposeful engagement of screen time and social media. Our final class meetings in grades 3-8 will be fostering a non judgmental space for families to dialogue about systems of healthy and mindful consumption of media and technology. 
  • Environmental Stewardship– Covid also had an impact on our use of reusable materials in the classroom and at community gatherings. We are hoping to revitalize our long standing tradition of using reusable materials such as water bottles, portable coffee mugs, plates and silverware any time we feast together. This often means Rainbow families travel with a “picnic pack” of plates and dishes to help reduce the need for single use materials. With all of the upcoming celebrations, we have several opportunities to practice this tradition. 

Visioning for Safety

The recent news of another school shooting inherently creates ripples of grief, outrage, and disillusionment. Nothing can temper the sorrow we feel in witness to such tragedy. However, it often reminds us of how critical it is to continually communicate our approach to safety on campus. Faculty will be gathering this week to review safety protocols supporting shared responsibility for school and campus safety. We have installed a trial security system, and will grow that approach once we ensure it is worthy of replication to all buildings. All Rainbow staff complete a monthly ALICE drill training to help maintain proficiency with our emergency response systems and we complete regular age appropriate drills in the classroom. These topics can feel overwhelming to consider, and we recognize that there is power and security in preparation, shared knowledge, and consistency.

Visioning for a Thriving Campus: a message in partnership with the Board

It is with great enthusiasm that the Board of Directors and I announce that the Board has created a Futures Planning Committee to work on facilities and future planning.  One of the primary roles of the Board of Directors is supporting the long term thriving of our institution. This is managed through the consistent and thoughtful application and review of policies governing the achievement of our ends and mission. One of the Board’s most visible contributions is through the acquisition and care of our facilities. In our recent history, this has included purchasing the Orchard House (Kindergarten), Omega Property, and our Allen Street rental property. 

During the 2021-2022 school year the Board devoted time to evaluating our current campus. This evaluation surfaced the need to create a master facilities plan. After careful consideration, the Board has engaged Altura Architects to work in partnership with the Futures Planning Committee to design a strategic facilities document. Specific considerations include:

  • Documenting a coherent short and long term vision for our facilities needs.
  • Optimizing the green spaces and sacred elements of our campus with potential for remodeling and building new structures. 
  • Exploring the feasibility of a “More Than A Gym” structure that could provide adequate space for large group physical activity, gathering, and school-wide events. 
  • Considerations for traffic flow, parking, security and other safety needs that will enhance our current campus. 

We will be inviting a cross section of the community to participate in an interactive visioning activity, facilitated by Altura. This step engages the wisdom of the collective, inspiring a final product in service to all of our stakeholders. 

More details will be shared with the full community as we embark on this journey together. All questions can be directed to Susie or Kali DeWine, the Chair of the Rainbow Board of Directors. 

May your Spring Break be filled with beauty, restoration, and connection. 

Yours In Partnership and Gratitude,

Susie Fahrer
Executive Director

Kaleidoscope February 2022

Kaleidoscope February 2022

Kaleidoscope Header
The return to school in 2022 unfolded at a brisk pace reinforced by pandemic stress, student narratives and conferences, re-enrollment planning, and more. My recent conversations with staff, parents, and students have shared a theme of “emotional erosion” describing the continued mental health impacts of pandemic living. This fragility reminds us all to tread gently, offering ourselves and others grace as we strive for coherence and harmony in our daily experience. Additionally, there seems to be a collective anticipation of spring gifting renewal and new life. In this moment, I invite you to focus on the return of light spiritually and emotionally for ourselves, our children, and our school.

This month’s Kaleidoscope focuses on time where we look back at our past, pause for our present, and vision our future. Intentionally contemplating our time together can help us slow down and counterbalance the urge to simply “push ahead,” reminding us that we always have the power to reframe our perspective from a mindset of doing to being.

Looking Back At Our Past:
It is hard to believe I am nearing the end of a second year as the Executive Director of Rainbow Community School. While the pandemic has certainly impacted our shared experience over the past 2 years, I am so proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved together within and beyond COVID. Our 2020-21 Annual Report is a capstone document that highlights several of these celebrations. I hope you will take the time to read it and recognize the collaborative efforts it showcases. This document is a testament to our holistic approach and community mindset that is at the very heart of our mission and vision.

Pausing For Our Present:
As noted above this present moment has many of us feeling full. I can’t help but return to our theme for this year; Collective Enrichment and Continual Evolution, for an opportune frame. Recently, the teachers completed Learner Profiles, offering a beautiful and holistic view of each child’s educational journey. This artifact is a great example of the rich curriculum and individualized approach at Rainbow, and it is also a tool for capturing a child’s evolution over time. Hopefully, the conferences provided ample time for each family to digest these narratives and look ahead to goals for your child in the remaining months of school.

Similarly, our institution has been designing opportunities for enriched conversation and collective wisdom to source our individual and organizational evolution. Our Primary Division continues to implement Fundations, and recently gathered for a formal training and reflection opportunity. Upper grades teachers took this time to dive deep into the data provided by our standardized testing. Additionally, teachers gathered earlier this month for a fire circle with feedback and fellowship. This listening session resulted in adapting our Wednesday training schedule to offer more breath and space for organic and relevant meetings to take place, bringing a little of spring’s renewal to our professional development calendar.

If we truly center ourselves in this present moment, it feels critical to also discuss COVID. Governor Cooper recently endorsed returning to a more typical school experience. The school toolkit is evolving, and the Safety team will be meeting this Friday (2/25/22) to outline Rainbow’s next steps in alignment with this updated guidance. Throughout this journey, we have been asked by many families how they can support community wellness. It is clear that everyone continues to take steps to monitor physical health and keep students home when ill. We are grateful for this partnership. It feels equally important to commit to a healthy dialogue around COVID. Vaccination status, infection level, and mask choices, are just a few of the potentially divisive topics surrounding this pandemic. We are all susceptible, including our children, to the polarizing impacts of debate versus dialogue. At Rainbow, we have the power and ability to center our humanness and model conscious communication. The teachers and staff are committed to this practice daily, as we facilitate healthy processing of pandemic impacts with our children.

Visioning Our Future:
Visioning further ahead brings a sense of joy and play as we consider all the possibilities yet to manifest. Rainbow Summer Camps are soon to be released to the public, and the line up is exciting! From crafting to adventuring to ESL, there is sure to be a week of exploration your child can’t resist. Reach out to our Camp Director, Susan Waddell with questions.

The much awaited 2022-23 School Calendar outlines our instructional flow for next year. This calendar has been reviewed by the administration, faculty, parent council, and board in an effort to create a rhythm that supports optimal learning for our children and a balanced experience for our stakeholders.

Looking forward, there is so much to be inspired by. I am hopeful that we will find time to commune together and be nurtured by the beauty and breath of spring.

Yours In Taking Time,

Susie Fahrer
Executive Director

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

Rainbow Community School and Omega Middle School has been closely monitoring developing information about the new coronavirus, COVID-19. This letter is to share with you the steps we are taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus; and the steps we are preparing to take if there is an outbreak in our community.

Take a moment to read the letter we have sent to our community:

This year’s science fair is going to be awesome!

This year’s science fair is going to be awesome!

The science fair has some great experiments going on.

The annual science fair is always a fun event. Across grade levels, all students participate and present their projects to the other grades. All students – whether individually or in groups – are responsible for coming up with testable ideas, hypotheses, drawing conclusions and interpreting results.

It’s not always so easy to come up with something that is both interesting and challenging. But, we have a sneak peek of our Omega 7/8 students doing just that.

We visited their classroom recently to see them testing and working diligently on their science projects to get ready for the upcoming science fair. In the Omega classroom, students were working in four different groups on a specific science experiment they chose.

Proving that gases have weight

This particular group set out to prove that gases have weight by using combustion. They weighed out pieces of wood and magnesium before burning. Next, they put each one to flame and tested their weight after the burning process.

Their prediction was that the wood would weigh less, and the magnesium would weigh more.

Omega students set out to prove that gases have weight by burning wood and magnesium, while comparing the weight of each before and after the burn process.

Engineering a Reptile Egg Incubator

The idea behind this science project was to engineer how to transport a reptile egg from site A to site B while using heat chemistry. The goal was to keep the egg stable and warm, as it could not shift position or roll over, nor could it endure temperature fluctuation.

The incubator required calcium chloride, baking soda and water. Students needed to measure whether they could detect temperature changes after they dissolved calcium chloride, and baking soda into water. The eggs needed a constant temperature of 28 – 32C during transport and being able to maintain temperature for a certain amount of time was an important consideration in this investigation.

Two of our Omegan students work on their project: Engineering a Reptile Egg Incubator (with heat chemistry).

The Digestion of Minerals in the Stomach

This group began their science class by heating up small glass pipes and bending them to simulate the “pipes” in human digestive systems. Once complete, they would then mix hydrochloric acid and marble to observe the reaction (much as it would happen in the stomach). The last step was to measure the resulting water and carbon dioxide from the process.

Above: Two Omegans heat and bend glass pipes to simulate “pipes” of the digestive system.

Below: All the materials needed to complete their investigation.

Testing for Vitamin C Content by Titration

Are you curious about how much vitamin C is actually in the things you buy? This group set out to answer those questions by testing how much vitamin C is present in various common beverages through a titration technique. Students used an indophenol solution to determine the presence of vitamin C by how much the color changed. The various beverages they tested included freshly squeezed lemons, limes, and oranges. They also tried orange juice found in the grocery store, and sodas that claimed to have Vitamin C.

This Omega group is checking the presence (and amount) of Vitamin C in common beverages using titration.

The Results

The results from each of these experiments is the subject of the upcoming science fair. You’ll have to check out the Omega 7/8 classroom to find the conclusions to burning magnesium and wood, how to maintain temperature in an egg incubator using chemical reactions, what happens to calcium carbonate when it reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and how much vitamin C is really in our common drinks. Check Rainbow Reminders for science fair details!

November Kaleidoscope 2019

November Kaleidoscope 2019

November Kaleidoscope

Symbolic Events

It’s only the beginning of November, yet we have already completed several cycles and symbolic events at Rainbow this school year. We have welcomed new families and new students, who by now are hopefully feeling a sense of community. We completed our student testing cycle for students in third through eighth grade. At this point, most classes have held their first of three parent class meetings. We have welcomed autumn, the harvest, and the coming days of darkness with the Halloween Harvest Hoedown, the Halloween Day celebration, Día de los Muertos, and a fire circle. Some of these events and transitions are marked with ritual and highlighted in this November Kaleidoscope.

November Kaleidoscope

Ritual – Being Present

Why ritual? When I am leading a ritual, I sometimes like to explain the reason for having a ritual by asking, “Your body is here, but where is your mind? Your heart?” Even the simplest of rituals, such as taking three breaths together, helps us to become fully present in mind, body, and spirit.


A second purpose of ritual is to help us connect as humans and to recognize our interconnectivity with all of humanity and nature. For example, in addition to centering, almost every meeting at Rainbow begins with a brief opening round where each person in a circle is invited to share a word, a phrase, or a short anecdote about how they are doing or something significant in their life. This simple ritual helps every person to name what is going on in their life so that they can be more present with the group. Often in opening round we learn that someone is in mourning or they are in physical pain, helping others to be more empathetic. Most of all, ritual helps to connect us, reminding us of our common humanity and creating a spirit of togetherness, which is especially important when we are about to engage in making decisions together.


A third reason for ritual is to honor and aid in transitions. Ritual helps humans to move through change with dignity – giving up and letting go of the past, and moving bravely into the future. For growing children, rites of passage can help children move into adolescence and then into adulthood. In ancient and indigenous societies, rites of passage were/are central to the culture. In America’s current mass culture, the lack of rites of passage often leaves adolescents feeling empty and confused about growing up. Saying goodbye to childhood isn’t easy for adolescents, yet they also desire the trappings of adulthood. When we don’t provide a rite of passage, teens find other rites, that can be risky or unhealthy, such as drinking or sexual activity. Meaningful ritual can help our children and teens to develop a deep sense of connection and purpose in their lives.

Rites of Passage in Omega Middle School

This is partly why the Omega Middle School program is structured to be a multi-year rite of passage. From the ritual around the beginning-of-the-year Omega honor code to the final rituals of eighth grade, Omega students see themselves as important members of their community. They are honored for what they contribute to their community and for who they are and will become. Embracing one’s purpose is the heart of Omega.

november kaleidscope

Open House

I invite you to attend our Omega Middle School Open house coming up on Thursday, November 21. Even if your children are much younger, the Open House will help you understand the whole arc of development at Rainbow and why Omega Middle School students have such a healthy self-image and the confidence and character to succeed in high school and beyond.

The White Pine Tree

The Mourning Ritual

You may have noticed that our large white pine tree in the middle of the playground died over the summer as a result of a native pine beetle infestation. This is a sad loss. When the faculty discussed it, we knew ritual would help our children to say goodbye to the white pine and find meaning in its death. Sue Ford and Susie Fahrer composed a song for the tree, and for one of our Tuesday song circles, we all gathered around it and sang:

Bless this tree for giving us life
Bless this tree morning noon and night
Bless this tree flower fruit and cone
Bless this tree oh see how we’ve grown.

You are a sacred sight
You are nature’s light
Rest you, return to the Earth
Rest you, and bring rebirth.

This beautiful ritual helped us to reverently grieve with one another and to remember the beautiful cycle of death and rebirth. In the coming weeks, Tim Slatton (partner of West Wilmore) will be taking down the white pine with the help of our facilities keepers, Max Mraz and Shawn Fain. We trust they will respectfully put it to rest. Niki Gilbert, Omega Middle School science teacher, is creating a team of staff and students to make a thoughtful plan for the planting several new trees on campus. Rest ye and bring rebirth.

Video credit: Tracy Hildebrand

Authenticity and Wholeness Training

Teachers who love…themselves

Over the past few weeks, the teachers and I have continued our series of training on developing authenticity and wholeness in students through teacher development. For one of our Wednesday afternoon trainings I led a training on Mindfulness. Our theme for the day-long training on November 1, was Openness. In this training we acknowledge that teaching is a challenging profession. Teachers have to make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions a day, knowing that every decision they make could have profound effects on the lives of the children they love and for whom they are responsible. Teachers have to perform with empathy, creativity, and dynamism while under tremendous stress and without being thrown off by their own emotional triggers. Teaching is a messy, complex job that is impossible to do perfectly. Teachers are often very hard on themselves. Yet, if teachers are going to be compassionate toward students they also need to be compassionate with themselves.

Invoking the Sages

The Buddha, said “I have two things to teach. Suffering and the relief of suffering.” Deep within the Puritan roots of American society, there is a tacit belief that self-compassion is the same as selfishness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Through the new field of positive psychology and with advances in neuroscience research, we now understand that self-compassion, or empathy for ourselves, is the key to empathizing with others. It doesn’t mean we give up or let ourselves off the hook for changes we need to make. It simply means we acknowledge that we are only human. Part of being human is sharing the suffering all of humanity has experienced since the beginning of time.


In addition to learning the science behind self-compassion, I engaged teachers in a simple 3-step exercise that I highly recommend for parents and children, too.

Step 1: When experiencing a challenging moment or being critical of yourself, acknowledge your situation and pain. You may simply say to yourself something like, “Ouch. That hurts.” Or, “this is stress.”

Step 2: Have compassion for yourself by recognizing that suffering is part of life. All of humanity shares a similar experience. You may say to yourself, “I am not alone.”

Step 3: Place your hands over your heart. Say to yourself, “May I be kind to myself,” and offer yourself a gift. It may be patience. It may be strength, or forgiveness.

This simple one-minute exercise was developed by Kristen Neff. Click here for advice for parents around fostering healthy self-compassion.

A legacy of love

A few days ago you received an email from Sandra McCassim, P-3 Division Head, that after 20 years at Rainbow, she is leaving at the end of this school year. I cannot possibly convey what this means to me personally. Sandra lifts up others in love as teacher, administrator, and friend. Her gentle wisdom has helped shape the loving culture here at Rainbow. Sandra was here many years before I came to Rainbow, and we have been through so much together. I am going to soak up every minute I have with her for the rest of this year.

Sandra will be instrumental in helping with the hiring of her replacement. Sandra and I have worked together to hire most of the excellent faculty we have on campus, and she reminds me that every time someone leaves the faculty, a new magical person brings new gifts. We are beginning our search for a new Division Head – a process which we are still defining, a process in which faculty will also be involved. Please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts about the search. If you know a talented educational leader who is interested in joining the Rainbow team in the coming years, you can refer them to the employment page on our website where there will soon be information on how to apply.

november kaleidoscope

Bringing Light to the Spirit of Education

I write this Kaleidoscope while sitting in the library at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York. West Willmore, Eddy Webb, and I presented at the Spirituality in Education Conference there.

As some of you know, The Collaborative for Spirituality in Education (CSE) at Teachers College has been working with Rainbow for a couple of years. Through generous funding from The Fetzer Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, they have paid Rainbow Institute quite well to share our best practices.

No Child Left Behind

Since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2002, our nation has moved in the direction of “teaching to the test,” or only teaching what can be quantifiably measured. Of course what can be measured is only the smallest aspect of education – the most material aspect. Our politicians, most of whom were not educators, did not understand that such an emphasis on the material would gut our schools of the spiritual – that which is immeasurable and unseen in the literal sense of the word. Nor did they realize that when you gut the spiritual aspects of education, nothing can thrive, certainly not academics, because without spirit there is no life and no motivation to learn. Not surprisingly, 19 years after NCLB, academic achievement is lower than ever and the opportunity gap wider. Furthermore, as a nation, both children and adults are in the midst of a mental health crisis.

Spirituality in Education

The good news is that the pendulum is beginning to swing in the other direction. When one of the highest ranked educational schools in the country hosts a Spirituality in Education conference, it legitimizes a movement. Even the President of Teachers College spoke at the conference, stating that the conference represented the direction education needs to go. As Timothy Shriver (nephew of John Kennedy and an influential educational leader) said at the conference, “It isn’t a fad, it’s a field.”

In this now blossoming field of spirituality in education, Rainbow is a beacon for the world. Let our line shine. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” There is no greater light that the pure light of children. Thank you for sharing the bright light of your child with the world.