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!
Sallie, Lauren and Louisa Ford

Sallie, Lauren and Louisa Ford

You know our music teacher, Sue Ford, right?

But did you know that all three of her daughters attended Rainbow at one time? Or that they’re making names for themselves in big ways?

Sallie Ford

Sallie Ford, April, 2014Sue’s daughter Sallie, all of 27, is not only “googleable” but, she’s even in Wikipedia!

Her musical talents are getting noticed in New York and beyond.

She’s rocking out with her all-female band. With her distinctive style, she marches out with a raw-soul sound in her music. She lives in Portland when she’s not touring.

Have a listen to this:

Lauren Ford

Sue’s daughter, Lauren Ford, is living in New York City and loves it!sue ford

She went there to pursue her dream of acting and was trained at Emerson College in Boston. She graduated in 2005 with honors and won the Carol Burnett award – the highest award offered to any student graduating in performing arts.

She’d already made waves before that: while still living in Asheville, she won the “Best Actor” award from ACT when she was just 13 for her portrayal of Anne Frank.

She moved to NYC in 2007 and worked off broadway, in touring companies and in regional theater.

As you can imagine, it’s really tough to make it in New York and she keeps herself very busy working multiple jobs including coat check girl with a fancy Manhattan restaurant, leading sake and whisky tastings, babysitting, working with flowers and plants and working for a catering company.

Those are her day jobs while her dream becomes reality.

Lauren blogs about her experiences at

Louisa Ford

louisa fordLouisa Ford, 24, moved to Portland two years ago after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a concentration in Sustainable Development.

She is living in Portland trying different jobs including waitressing, hostessing, working in a children’s museum, and teaching tap dance lessons.

She’s a musician too and she tap dances, plays guitar and sings all at the same time.

All three girls are singers and songwriters – hmm…we wonder where they got that from?

Sue Ford is extremely proud of her daughters. Every day she smiles at how proud they make her.

Something they all have in common is Rainbow.

And wouldn’t you know, Sue’s husband, Hobey Ford is coming to Rainbow for a puppeteer performance in the auditorium in February!

Just Another Day at “The Office” for Reed Fornoff

Just Another Day at “The Office” for Reed Fornoff

Rainbow is always thrilled to hear from its alumni!

We just heard from Reed who was finishing a summer term as a park ranger at Sequoia National Park.

He’s pictured below. He was off duty, therefore not in uniform, but yes, this is where he works.

One of the tenets of a Rainbow education is environmental sustainability; we hope that influence follows RCS students their whole lives.


Soulspeak Coming to RCS Auditorium

Soulspeak Coming to RCS Auditorium

Soulspeak at Rainbow

We are beyond excited! SATURDAY September 27th @ 7pm, Soulspeak Asheville will be helping us dedicate our new community center auditorium space with a youth poetry slam!
WE ARE ALL POETS will feature 12 youth ages 12-21 from the WNC community sharing their poetry.
There will also be an open mic.
Mel Kelley and Liam Kelley Black (Rainbow alumni) from Soulspeak will be bringing poetry to our Omega students the next two Thursdays as well as offering support to any student who wants to slam or open mic on the 27th.
Matt Foley

Matt Foley

Award winning poet, author and teacher, Matthew Foley, from Charleston, SC will feature at the slam.

Free Wordshop

Soulspeak is offering a FREE WORDSHOP with Matthew for youth poets earlier that day from 3-5pm @ Kairos, 742 Haywood Rd.

If You Want to Go…

All Omega students are welcome!
ALL PROCEEDS from the slam go towards providing the free Saturday wordshops and open mics that SOULSPEAK offers our youth poets each month.
Rainbow families will receive a $2 discount per ticket. Adults just $10, students $5! Tickets will be for sale on the decks from Thursday on.


Alumnus Allijah Motika – Creative Multi-Instrumentalist

Alumnus Allijah Motika – Creative Multi-Instrumentalist

Allijah Motika - singin' and playin'

Allijah Motika – Creative multi-instrumentalist

Alumni News!

We are so proud of all of our alumni.

We have news from Allijah Motika who just graduated from Catawba College in May.

He studied music, with a concentration in Popular Music and achieved summa cum laude. He received many honors while there, including getting a Presidential Scholarship, and was on the Dean’s List and Presidential Honor Roll. He was a member of Alpha Chi Honors Society, a Junior Marshal, and was named Who’s Who Among Students.

As a student, he participated in an Artist Development Program, learning everything from being a live sound engineer to helping oversee performance spaces on campus. He also tutored other students in various subjects. This has helped prepare him for life after college – running a band and fulfilling his dream of being a musician!

Allijah is part of a band that formed in 2012 called Life Size. He also is the acting manager, promoter and booking agent. In addition, he’s a co-songwriter, co-producer, and plays multiple instruments for shows and performances.

Already, he has several notable performances:

  • Vernaculars All-Stars at the NC Governor’s Inaugural Ball in 2013 – with Parmalee and The Avett Brothers
  • God’s Appointed People Choir at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 – with Jessica Sanchez
  • Catawba Singers – European Tour 2011 and Chicago Performance – with Eric Whitacre
  • Governor’s School West Chorus – 2009

Great job to Allijah – we are proud of you and so thrilled that you’re part of the Rainbow family!

Here’s a recent quote from Sarah Hall – Salisbury Post

“Their songs, all original compositions, demonstrated that they have become accomplished songwriters.”

2014 Welcome Letter to Parents

2014 Welcome Letter to Parents


August 6, 2014

Dear Rainbow Parents,

This is my favorite communication of the year – the letter welcoming you to the upcoming school year!  As an educator, I can tell you that the beginning of the school year is as full of excitement and anticipation for the staff as it is for the students.  Every year brings so much promise.

Ashoka Changemaker School

Last year’s welcome letter predicted that Rainbow Community School was entering a new era.  Indeed, it was a banner year.  We earned multiple local, state, and national awards, the most notable at the state level being the first Green School of Excellence in North Carolina, and at the national level becoming an Ashoka Changemaker School.

As a result of our Changemaker status, we are being asked to present at national conferences and to write for important educational blogs, such as Edutopia.  Rainbow is being recognized as the cutting-edge leader in education that we are.  Of course, the biggest, most dramatic change over the last year was doubling the size of our campus!

In one year we shifted from being a small school with unpredictable enrollment, to being near capacity for enrollment and having the ability to powerfully affect the future for our children, our community, and for education on a broader scale.  It truly is the beginning of a new era.

We have accomplished something rare for a non-profit organization by going through tremendous change, yet coming through it with more stability than ever before.  Pat yourselves on the back for being a part of it and making it happen!

Contacting Alumni

With all this change, it is important now, more than ever, to be true to who we are.  We will be contacting alumni families, both recent and from as far back as possible, to remind them that they are always welcome on campus and forever a part of the community.

We will strive to share our good fortune as much as possible by partnering with, and donating to, Children First/Communities in Schools, providing tutoring at Deaverview Housing Project, and by doing other valuable service work; plus we will begin providing auditorium space to the wider community at our new facility.

Speaking of the new facility, please see the update on the Rainbow Rising Capital Campaign.  Thanks to your donation dollars, the donated time and expertise of Christopher Fox Builders and Rowhouse Architects, and Max Mraz’s (facility manager) coordination, the first phase of construction is 95% complete, under-budget, and ahead of schedule! (Yes, it has been a busy summer!)

We will have a certificate of occupancy before school begins for the auditorium and for the new Omega (7th/8th grade) space which will be on the new campus.  What a huge transformation… and the biggest phase of construction is yet to come.

Parent Summit Night – Sept. 29

Please mark your calendar now for Monday evening, September 29.  We are requesting that at least one parent from every family attend the Rainbow Parent Summit that night.

Typically, we schedule this required meeting for February, but this year we are moving it all the way up to September 29 because much of that night will be focused on creating a facilities plan for the future of Rainbow.

How Can Rainbow Fully Serve Your Family?

We will be going into the next phase of construction in January, and need your dreams, desires, and creative ideas before then – both regarding the future of our facilities, and also our program.  How can Rainbow more fully serve your family? More information on this board-hosted event will be coming from board chair, Claudia Konijn.

Based on feedback from parents, the administration has grown so that we can better serve the school’s needs.  Cynthia Calhoun, woman of many talents, will still be teaching Spanish 1/3 time, and for the other 2/3 she will be heading up community coordinating and communications, including social media, marketing, and running the website.

We have also been fortunate to hire Sara Stender for part-time development management for the fall fundraising campaign.

The faculty continues to grow and become even more dynamic with each year!

Biographies of new staff members can be seen on the Rainbow website. The teachers have been busy preparing their classrooms, updating curriculums, and attending summer trainings.  The staff will spend the 10 days before school starts together, preparing ourselves in every domain, including spiritually.

Visible Thinking and Singapore Math

Throughout the year the staff engages in extensive training.  This upcoming year, we continue to sharpen our skills in Harvard Graduate School’s Visible Thinking tools and Singapore Math.

The new staff training theme for the upcoming year is in the area of teaching kids how to have agency through engineering and systems thinking.  You will receive much more information on this, but what we mean by the word agency in this context is having power and being able to make a difference.

Teachers will be learning about the maker movement and how kids can learn to engineer electronics, robotics, and to think in terms of systems and how best to affect change through innovation.

Susie’s fourth grade class will pilot this program this year.  If your child isn’t in fourth grade, feel free to stop by her fourth grade classroom to see their “tinkering table” which is essentially a kid-friendly work bench and to ask Susie what “tinkering” has to do with giving kids power.

Student Support Services

Also new for the upcoming year, we have completely revamped the student support services program.  Every student needing special support will be paired with an advocate who will help the student and the family with the support plan, communication, and advocating for each student’s needs.

An excellent student support program doesn’t just benefit students with special needs, but enhances the educational experience of all children by creating classrooms where all kids experience success.  The student support team is now headed by Ali Banchiere.  We have added a counselor to the team.  Blake Smith, formerly counselor at Carolina Day School, will be working on a limited schedule to put together the initial pieces of a budding counseling program at Rainbow.

All of this and much more is carefully crafted to create an environment for your child(ren) to thrive at Rainbow in 2014/15 – a safe space where there are magical arms of a whole community enfolding them and all the resources necessary for children to take risks and try out their agency.

Of course, that looks quite different at different levels of development – from three year olds learning to zip their own coats, 3rd graders navigating their first social dramas, 6th graders experimenting with new personas, and Omegans peering into their soul and preparing themselves for high school and beyond.  What will the future bring?

Thank you for joining Rainbow for this journey.

As executive director, I am honored, humbled, to be a part of such an awesome community and a vibrant future, as reflected in the eyes of your children.

Please – please – don’t assume I am too busy to have a conversation on the deck or to see you in my office.  (Although we have grown so much – over 400 people including kids, parents, staff — you may need to remind me of your name!) One-on-one conversations are the best opportunities to connect and my favorite part of my job.  I care, and I am here.

Let’s get ready for another great year.

Blessings on the journey,







Renee Owen

Executive Director