This week we went to the Broad River Greenway. Ethan caught a toad, and Brett found and caught a skink. As we were having lunch, a squirrel came to us, but it had tufts of fur missing, so it probably was in a bad fight. Marley had a big green lizard that was the size of her palm, but she let it go at the school. There were a few fishing docks at the river and most of the children were bending over the docks railings. All of the children played around on the playground, and the game that we played was called The Zombie Game. It’s where we pretend that the Zombie apocalypse came and one person starts out as a zombie and if they touch you, you become a zombie. We took a nature study walk at the Broad River and we looked for paw/hoof prints, leaves, mushrooms, and if were lucky some animals. We went to a creek that wasn’t very big or deep and it had stepping stones, but we stayed there for a while looking at stuff. We found a hollowed out tree, and it was big enough that Justin got in it. At school we are working on scrapbooks at Arts-n-crafts on Thursday, and for PE we played Sharks-n-Minnows on Tuesday and we had a lot of fun playing it. On Tuesdays we do Drawing class. Every day we have a lot of fun at school, and I think that all of us think of school as our extended family.
Last week began with the discovery of slug eggs during our weekly exploration of the edge of the woods at school. The eggs on the leaf are "duds", but the ones in the center picture contain embryos. We collected them, along with some of the surrounding mud, to see if they will hatch.
On Thursday, Mr. and Mrs. Brame capitalized on the students' current interest in the Harry Potter stories by organizing a game of Quidditch for PE. This was a fun way to combine physical activity and imagination! Did you know that lots of colleges now have intramural Quidditch teams?!
On Friday, we walked over to Gardner-Webb to meet with Botany professor, Dr. Tom Jones. He showed us some of the interesting and unusual plants that grow on the nature trail between the pond and Broyhill Adventure Course. One such plant is Bloodroot, which produces a white flower, and which is just starting to bloom. The roots of these plants have a red juice that Native Americans used to treat skin cancer. Scientists are now investigating their effect on melanoma. Another is the Princess Tree, which was brought over from China and now spreads and grows very quickly. Dr. Jones showed us several kinds of wild mint, as well as Bittercress.
Week three at Willow Tree was good. On Friday we had our first community service day. We are adopting Wood Creek Apartments, an assisted living facility, this year. We went over on Friday to meet the residents and play Bingo with them. We will go back in November to make Christmas cards with them. Our garden of cool weather greens is coming along. We will need to thin out the seedlings soon. We made bird feeders this week in the hope of attracting native birds, which we can observe through the windows.
This Friday we will go on a walking field trip around the neighborhood. We will visit the post office and the fire station, view the faculty art exhibit at Gardner-Webb, and take a picnic lunch to City Park. (Please don't send microwave lunches on Friday.)
As we settle into a brand new school, I have been contemplative about the things I am seeing. First, I love seeing happy faces. The children are smiling when they enter in the mornings and smiling when they leave. Sometimes I even hear, "Aww, I'm not ready to go home yet!" when mom comes in. I am thrilled that the students want to come to school. But as wonderful as that is, it is even better to see children eager for challenges. They enjoy learning Latin and reading Shakespeare. They approach their math lessons like puzzles--the same way mathematicians do. There is an air of discovery in the science classes. There is rigor, but the students are not stressed by undue pressure. There is an 'awakening' that occurs when children are taught according to their natures that is wondrous to see. The responses that I have gotten from the parents has been so positive. I thank you all so much for all you are doing for the children's sake!
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Dr. Jen Spencer is the Director and Lead Teacher of Willow Tree Community School. She enjoys hiking, writing, and discussing philosophy and education reform.