The School of Now promotes education of all children to meet their highest human potential. An emerging population of strong-willed, ADHA, autistic, and other undefined differences are appearing at an alarming rate. The School of Now is a modern educations system that will engage, inspire, and prepare students to realize the potential of following their joy and ultimately contributing more to society, humanity, and the world.
We believe that students should be empowered to recognize and utilize their gifts, escape patterns of self destructive behavior, through the acceptance of who they are as unique and gifted individuals. Traditional western structured schools are failing the children of today. With half of students being told that they are subpar, not meeting state and federal standards, we are ingraining the future of our society that they are not bright enough, not good enough, and will remain that way forever if they don’t do something to catch up fast. We feel that this is a great abuse to children. Another effect of the standardized testing policies is the complete lack of attention to developing the whole person. With the emphasis on reading and math, parts of the human brain and development are ignored. With the disappearance of physical education, music, art, we are stifling the ability of student to fully take advantage of education. Many students do not like school, drop-out, or exhibit behaviors that challenge the teachers, administration, and their peers in the school setting. The School of Now will meet the diverse needs of student self-expression, while teaching empowerment, discipline, and self-confidence.
Students will be given a complete, psychological, academic, and metaphysical assessment upon acceptance to the school. Not only will the student’s psychological state and academic abilities, be assessed, but also the metaphysical sciences will be used to gain insight to the spiritual aspects of the child. Students will be placed according to needs, interests and abilities, not age level. A common problem in typical school setting is one teacher attempting to meet the students at their level. By creating an in-depth evaluation of the student before placing them in classes, the student will be immersed in a diverse group, together, learning how to gain new skills and understandings. If a student is struggling to show progress, weekly and/or bi-weekly conferences will be held with the student’s advisor/mentor. Students will create portfolios of their works, using technology, organizations skills, and self/community assessments to monitor growth and effort.
The School of Now will provide housing for students. Ready to help students shift eating and sleeping habits, the school will provide community and routine to promote the student’s ability to learn. Life skills and academics will be emphasized, as well as coping strategies according to the need of the student. Not all students will live at the school, so there will be members of the community coming into the environment. The school will be built using sustainable building practices, to ensure health of the inhabitants and the environment. The school will be a series of monolithic domes which are touted to be the safest structures, according to FEMA. The circular structures also serve to get students, “out of the box.” The School of Now will also be off the grid, being powered by solar / wind turbines and fresh water from the drilling of primary water.
School community will be a crucial element of the support system for the students. Students will switch classes, knowing other students across grade levels, with varying skills and talents. Students will be encouraged to follow their interests and to help each other across age levels, recognizing that we are all unique, with personal challenges and talents. Strategies from community building organizations, such as Project Cornerstone will be employed to facilitate community involvement. Elders and community members will be welcome at the school, to encourage inter-generational relationships and values. School schedules will allow for structured activities such as classes, theater, and games, as well as unstructured activities, such as meals, free time, and gardening. The students will get to know their “pod” members and house parents, as well as the entire staff of the school. In the “pods” students will have chores and responsibilities to help maintain the environment, but to also teach life skills. Students and parents will also be responsible for light cleaning during the week to teach respect and life skills to students. Parents will also be encouraged to participate in school activities, not only with their own kids, but with other students as well. The School of Now will be a hub of the community, with activities comparable to evening storytelling and weekend clean up activities in surrounding communities. A large organic flower and vegetable garden will provide food for the cafeteria, and a setting for learning and community building.
In order to meet the needs of the students and families, professional development and planning time for teachers is crucial. Whole staff meetings will occur once a month, with break out activities, that allow for whole school planning and coordination. Teachers and staff will also receive professional development, in areas such as lesson design/facilitation, current research, counseling, and methodology. It is crucial that teachers are given time daily for lesson planning and preparation. Allowing students to switch classes, gives teachers preparation periods, and allows students to work with different teachers, with different specialities. Teachers will be able to focus on their specialized subject matters and create detailed lessons, and then adjust them to particular students needs, focusing on students needs rather than changing content areas. Teachers will be given the opportunity to teach what they love to prevent fatigue and stress. The teachers are some of the most important leaders in the school and must lead by example, sharing what they love. Teaching with sincere love will impress the students as they are learning, helping with long term retention of skills and information. This will also create the reality that the student can do what they love in life, being successful and happy. Teachers will also have the possibility of moving to the next level with their students or working with incoming students, if it is logistically possible. Consensus building will be used in all arenas to plan next steps and create community investment.
Teachers will use backwards design planning, to create meaningful lessons that address current issues. Teachers will also use inquiry and discovery methods, teaching creative problem solving abilities to students. Cooperative and service learning will also help guide lesson planning. As well as addressing multiple intelligences throughout all lessons. Teachers will implement rubric building and choice boards to motivate students. Influenced by the Waldorf traditions, rhythmic activities, storytelling by heart, concentration exercises and daily rhythms will be used to keep students engaged and interested. Whole school themes will guide the curriculum development throughout the months. Teachers will be given time to develop specific plans and share them with other staff members to ensure thorough integration of content areas. Themes would focus on aspects of nature, human rights, and other universal qualities. Repeating themes through the years will allow students and teachers to go deeper into the subject, be creative, and integrate learning over time. Teachers will create parts that work together to create a whole picture, enabling students to see the multidisciplinary reality of life. Thematic units will range from two weeks to a month and a half. The ideal teacher student ration will be 1 teacher to every 12 students, with 15 students at the most.
Walking into the School of Now, students will be carefully evaluated and introduced to a personal advisor/mentor. After evaluations they would be given a schedule of classes that both intrigues them and challenges them. The student will be placed according to interests and abilities. They will also be given a designated counselor to work with to encourage personal growth and healthy coping skills. A mandatory program of reading and writing instruction, mathematics, science, physical education/health, meditation class, and monthly specialty will be given to each student. Elective courses, in the arts, cooking, horticulture, film, 4H, architecture, martial arts, music, and technology will be taken by students. Students will be expected to stay with chosen electives for at least six months. The monthly specialty class will exhibit a specific skill or art, in which the student will receive a one month introduction. Classes such as Tai Chi, Yoga, or singing will be exposed to the student, so that they are aware of the many possibilities that are available to calm the mind and relax the soul. Students will have a daily routine with flexibility built in to prevent boredom and apathy. Classes will average 25 minutes in length and students will be expected to be prepared for a short, fun, intense class. Their schedule will allow for movement, still focus, and variety. Service learning projects will allow students to see the impact of their actions, and to take personal responsibility as a member of society. Study halls will also be available for students who need to work on projects or develop personal interests. Students will have access to both a counselor, and an advisor/mentor. Each student will have an individualized plan that creates a sense of value and self worth in the student. After school programs will also be provided. Students can engage in sports teams, clubs, and classes that interest them. They will also be provided with free time to read, socialize, or play games
In the center of the school will be a meditation hall. Meditation has many proven benefits for the physical body, the emotions, the mind, and the spirit. Students will be taught the many ways of meditation and breathing exercises which improve circulation of oxygen in the body and brain. Learning how to be still in a quiet environment is a lost skill in a society of constant stimulation. Students will learn to calm the mind, relax the body, and go with in. Meditation serves as an important link to our inner worlds. By communicating with this inner world students will be more in touch with what brings them joy in life and the complexity of their emotions. Meditative practices are both secular and trans-personal. Meditative activities, such as labyrinth building, mindful walking, and contemplating will be taught to give students a healthy method of physical, emotional and mental self-care.
Food and sleep will also be an important aspect of the School of Now. All students will be placed on the Feingold diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats and grains will be emphasized. Processed foods and refined and synthetic sugars will be extremely limited as well as hydrogenated and saturated fats. Students will be involved with the production of food, and preparation. For the live-in students, there will be a kitchen in each “pod” with healthy snacks. Under the dark, starry sky, students will be encouraged to rise with the sun and sleep peacefully in their comfortable dorm rooms shared with other students. They will know that there is always an adult in the building for assistance if needed. “Pods” will be separated by gender, girls dorms, and boys dorms. Each dorm will have at least two house parents, and possibly the families of the teachers. A family environment will be provided, with multi-age students, and caring house parents, and visiting family members as well.
The School of Now will create an environment where the individual will recognize their worth in a community. Students will become acquainted with their inner selves and how they can use their gifts and talents to serve the community. The School of Now will address the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of a developing youth. The school will have a profound impact, empowering students to act in a meaningful way, bringing together community, and healing social traumas. The School of Now will greatly impact the child’s being, keeping kids in school and off the streets. Students will be prepared to be active and productive members of society.