“From Under Our Big Tree” Weekly Newsletter – Community Week #1

Community Newsletter Week #1: Sept 6 – 9
All Together - Community
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Welcome everybody and congratulations on the first week of 2016-2017!

As we, the staff, reflected on the first day of school we all shared feelings of joy, pride and accomplishment. Seeing all of you and your children, filling the courtyard with your incredible presence…felt monumental. Remembering where we came from, 4 kids under a tree, to a courtyard filled with smiling energetic young people and connecting adults was almost more than most of us could imagine. We always knew that we all, children, parents and teachers deserved a place where the first day of school was something to be looked forward to, not dreaded, but to be actually standing there, with sunflowers and “nests” and a drum to announce to the world that these humans were about to embark upon a journey together continues to resonate with each of us.  As each student and family dropped their rock in the “nest”,  rang the drum, placed a sunflower in the bouquet, danced a joyful dance and then swung their pillows, a deep bond was solidified that defies how school has been defined. All of our unique spirits were honored that day and that makes us very proud.

Tending the Garden –  Drop-Off/Pick up Info for Field Day, Emergency Back Pack Deadline and After-School Care
Parent Teacher Tools – Get help with your tech, save the date (Sept 24) & Find Your Groove
TKG Office – Support recycling, office hours, official calendar link.
In Education News – People are re-imagining things all time – inventors, solution-ers, problem solvers…our wish is to empower students and families

Traveling through the week, children abandoned parents at the wayside (or at least that is what it felt like!)  to join friends and teachers to explore newly created classrooms. I don’t know how many times children skipped away from parents to join their class as they filtered into school, without even saying goodbye because what lie ahead was so promising and exciting. We tried a couple of new things this week. One is our Personal Project time (a.k.a. Deep Learning time) first thing in the morning, with a different studio represented in each room.  Beginning at 9:00 every day, the school is an open invitation for students to wander throughout, experiencing the best that each classroom and teacher has to offer. In the Acorn Classroom, Michelle facilitated students playing in the dramatic play areas as well as peeling and chopping apples in the Food Lab. In the Nature Growers, Yvette led students to explore the Maker Space by thinking about Simple Machines and making homes for small creatures. In the Redwoods,  Alice opened up the art cabinet and students drew and made origami.

At this time,the students easily flow between all classrooms, and the level of responsibility that each student carries to wander freely up and down the stairs translates to how they treat the materials and the different rooms they inhabit during that time. This has been such a wonderful “breathing out” opportunity for everyone, when we all got to acclimate to each other, breath out any stress or worry from the moments before school and get ready to “breath in” the rest of the day.

The other aspect that we have put a lot of attention on this week was a regular “exercise” time of the day. Every morning, for 10 minutes, each classroom is dancing, running, marching, squatting, and stretching their way enhanced brain functioning. It has been fun for the Acorns class to try out freeze dancing to different types of music and for our olders to try out different W.O,.D.s (Work out of the Day). Everyone gets to feel energized and we know that exercise encourages neuroplasticity, so it feels great all around!

*From Trish: Thank you all for all the time you have put in to reviewing PT schedules, returning your forms and getting your calendars synched up. Getting all of the logistics set up on this side of things will enable us to move forward with the work that matters. We continue to improve our communication streams so that we can meet you where you are: mobile, desktop, analog. If you feel confused, left-out, unsure about TKG events and opportunities…please check in with me right away so we can resolve toward empowerment through information!

Looking forward to what lies ahead!
Lena & Team TKG

Lena Garcia, Head of School, Acorns Lead Teacher
Trish Valdez, School Business Manager
Monica Evangelist, Board President
Facebook (private group), Community Forum
Shutterfly Info Site: photos, contact information, announcements
OFFICIAL CALENDAR: subscribe and never miss an event
Follow us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pintrest/Youtube

Tending the Garden

  • Field Day, 9/12 – Be sure to pack water, sunscreen, snack and lunch. Pack light! ATTN: New Families, please plan to stay between 9 and 10am to help us establish protocols and boundaries.
  • After-School Care – Thursdays: Autumn will be offering a theatre program this Fall but we need your participation to make it a go! Please click this link to sign up. ContactAutumn with questions (click to email her directly).
  • Emergency Back Packs – Please return your emergency back packs to EC by THIS Tuesday. EC is on our HEALTH & SAFETY Commission and in addition to making sure our packs are ready, she’ll be supporting our teachers in making sure our emergency plans are in good shape.
TKG believes in…
  • CONSTRUCTIVISM: teachers and parents support relevant learning & creativity
  • WHOLE CHILD + FAMILY: cognitive, physical and social/emotional health is valued – families & caregivers are our partners
  • BRAIN SCIENCE: we are sensory learners with existing neural pathways and we can help develop and practice positive learning experiences
  • CAPACITY BUILDING: nurturing creative thinkers who are encouraged to solve problems that serve our community
  • COOPERATIVE LEARNING: small groups, low ratios, mixed ages
Parent Teacher Info

Parent Teacher Tools

PT Schedules
Please return your signed schedules asap. You may have already Contacted Trish to request changes or offer alternatives – and they are in the works. PT Hours are a way for you to be connected to your students and earn money to apply to your tuition. The official PT schedule begins in October but there are some parents who will begin working next week (outdoor classroom team, math focus teachers and after-school care to name a few). Thank you!

PT Welcome – Sept 15
Come meet with other PTs and get outstanding work schedule questions answered. We’ll have tech experts handy to help you get your calendars synched and your (amazon) fundraising questions answered.

PT Retreat 2015 – September  9am-1pm
We ask that you attend the entire session so that you are fully briefed on plans, updates and so that all your questions are addressed in community. Dont miss Dr.Joey’s special keynote! This workshop must be completed before you begin your classroom schedule. Please contact Lena with any questions.

PT RESOURCE: 5 Steps to Finding Your Groove
You know it is a lifelong process, but here are some good reminders!
1. Take Recess
2. Switch Autopilot On
3. Unshackle Yourself
4. Cultivate Relationships
5. Tolerate Some Discomfort
Read the details @MINDFUL.ORG
Admin Announcements

From the TKG Office

Support TKG- Ink Recycling: Please donate your used ink cartridges to us and help us earn $ toward teacher supplies. EC, a member of our PT Fundraising Team, collects and organizes all the details. She can also answer your questions about this initiative. Click here to email her directly.

Open Enrollment TKG is still enrolling for this year and we won’t stop ’til we’re full! Encourage your friends to check us out – our website, Facebook, Insta or just call! Our office line is 310 728 9337, our email is Learning@KnowingGarden.org, our website is KnowingGarden.org

TKG Office Hours, Wed 1-3pm: You are invited to come walk through any admin questions you may have during our office hours. Monica and Trish are available, Lena joins as often as possible (determined by classroom needs/plans). This is a standing opportunity but you can make arrangements for an appointment at another time if this time does not work for you.

Click to see our the Official Calendar.

The Four Agreements
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best
Resource Of The Week – Capacity Building & Empowerment

The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

What does it mean to re-invent education? It means building on the concepts that work and integrating the information & practices that empower people. It doesn’t just apply to schools – it transfers to real life:
*   *   *
When Yvonne van Amerongen received a phone call from her mother two decades ago, relaying that her father had died of a heart attack—sudden and painless—one of the first things she thought was, Thank God he never had to be in a nursing home.

That call from her mother spurred Yvonne into action as she became committed to making nursing homes more livable and less of a departure from reality for their residents. Over the next 20 years, she worked to secure the funding she’d need to make the idea a reality. Read more @TheAtlantic.

Solving Community Problems

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