The Field of Dreams

DSC_0016On Saturday morning, a crew of committed parents and children drove in with trucks full of equipment and tools to create our new Field of Dreams.” This field is part of our outdoor classroom for our C.R.E.A.T.E. Program. We use it for Fieldwork® as well as for other focus techniques and games that we play. These are all a part of our training to learn the application of intentional focus and concentration in support of students’ academic leaning.

“The field of dreams is one of my favorite places on campus” says Miss Sonya, our C.R.E.A.T.E. Coordinator  “Students put on their blinders and spend a whole lesson focusing on their dream.” Miss Sonya explains, “When you are able to hold your focus, you are able to walk to your card. It is a magnificent hands-on demonstration of the power of thoughts and how they impact our environment and experiences in life.”

“The best part of this is that the only tool the children use is their own mind.  When they accomplish finding their card, they know that they have done this, and they take ownership. They know that this experience belongs to them. This is one way the children have to set their personal and academic goals and see them through to fruition. For all these reasons, it is very meaningful that the parents have helped build this special field on our campus.”

And what a day it was. These lovely people spent long, happy hours getting the massive job close to completion. The moms and children helped carry cement bags. The kids came up with the genius idea to “Roll” the bags to the holes… They laughed and rolled while creating the field…and the dad’s put up the posts and rails.  “All the post holes have been dug and the posts are cemented in.” says Nigel Wakely, “Now it will only take a moment for the cross boards to be attached.”  By Saturday night everyone was smiling and filled with pride. And “what a pizza party!” With good laughs and a sense of a job well done. View photos here.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! 

DSC_0035After having delightfully warm temperatures all fall, Jack Frost has finally come calling. Children returned from the Veteran’s Day holiday to, “ICICLES!” The lovely rain chains ​on our campus ​had beautiful water diamonds glistening in the bright morning sun. Throughout that day children reviewed what would keep them warmer. “More layers.” said Pearl. “Snow Pants!” said Ashtyn. “Hats and Mittens!” echoed others.

All these and more manifested the next day. In addition to a good outer coat, warm layers are especially important as classrooms can be cool first thing in the morning. The season has definitely clicked into place. Can snow be far off in our future? View photos here.

The Wonderful World of Workshops

DSCN0784The day dawned bright and crisp, as mixed age students donned their sweatshirts and bike helmets, then straddled their BMX bikes. Round 3 of Friday workshops had begun. The morning session for our noble bikers was for children learning to ride on 2 wheels, or those who are newly without training wheels who want to practice their new skill. “We are practicing balance in many ways, including using the slack line.” said Outdoor Specialist, Ms. Genevieve. Little Miren proclaimed afterward, “I rode for a LONG time on just 2 wheels!”

In another part of the forest, students could be found hunting for bugs and stones in Ms. Sophie’s Bugs and Blossoms workshop. Ms. Sonya had a rapt audience as she laid out the plans for her Advanced Video Making course.
In Ms. Jeannie’s Wooden Toys and Games class, students were busily creating stilts. In the distance one could hear the sweet sound of French and English Christmas carols wafting from Ms Audrey’s room. “We are making holiday gifts using cross stitch and whip stitch.” said Ms. Megan. The children were singing along to the carols. Ms Audrey was kept ‘in stitches’ by the witty Ms Eileen Ryan, mother of Myles, who is volunteering her time and skills in this class.
The afternoon brought another session of many choices. “I’m really good at folding paper!” stated 7 year old Alec as he marched off to his Origami workshop, taught by Mr. Moses. Older students went to advanced BMX to prepare for a field trip to a Tacoma Bike Park. The banging and clanging of metal was heard from Mr. Neil’s talking robot workshop, and Ms Jeannie was busy crafting wooden gifts and stuffed toys. “I made my own Pokee Ball!” shouted Sam upon returning from this class.
In Ms. Melody’s room, children were crafting beautiful candle lanterns ….and, yes…. singing Christmas Carols. It’s never too early for some holiday cheer!
The Phoenix Rising School finds value in all types of learning. Our Friday workshops are a joyful way for the children to develop new skills and confidence while they follow their bliss. View Photos

Family, Food, and Friends = Festive Night at Phoenix 


sophie sydneyAbout ten minutes into this year’s annual Fall Harvest Celebration, a challenge arose: the tables were already bursting with sumptuous dishes, but more and more parents kept arriving, their arms filled with pans and crock pots of all descriptions. Where should we put it all? This level of abundance was indicative of the prevailing spirit of the evening. “The warmth and the sense of community was overwhelmingly touching,” says Jessica Caldwell, School Administrator and the event’s organizer-in-chief. “It was great to see how eager the parents were to come together and celebrate.”

“We’ve been able to separate Halloween from our Harvest Festival,” says 1st and 2nd grade teacher Melody Rae. “When Halloween is celebrated at school, it gets to be a high pressure, high energy day for them. They have to wear their costume here and then parents have to make two costumes. It’s always seemed to be too much.” This way, she says, children could experience both events without that additional pressure. “They enjoyed learning to sing together,” she says. I would see them as they were making their lanterns  singing their lantern songs or as we were walking out to the trail. It was just a special sweet moment that was for the children but wasn’t intertwined with the Halloween experience.”

Every year, the festival serves to usher in the season of darkness and cold by reminding ourselves of the warmth and light we share with friends, family and neighbors. The night included a lantern walk with a lantern song, a Table of Remembrance for loved ones and pets who have passed away, and short performances from every class. “This event shows that we are unique, and that we are intentional in the elements of our program and culture and that we see value in bringing community together in meaningful ways,” says Executive Director Aaron Rodriguez.

Thanks to everyone who joined us and Happy Halloween! View Photos

Tri-mathletes Learn and Earn Medals

contestIf you’re not used to taking tests, much less competing against other students, an event like last week’s Tri-mathlon can be stressful. Just ask Azura, Tahsis and Chatalain, three Phoenix Rising students who took part in the annual competition hosted by the Math Learning Center, which pitted them against students from Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. Despite their nerves, all three performed well; Chatalain earned fourth place, Tahsis achieved three third place finishes and Azura came in first. “I learned that it was really fun to do it for the experience, and it wasn’t about the place you got,” says Chatalain.

The contest, which is in its fourth year and is held throughout the United States and Canada, consists of three parts: Magic Squares, the Counting Game, and Mental Math. They spent several weeks preparing for the types of questions they would be facing. “Once we got there, it was the same sheets but with different numbers,” says Azura.

Because of her high score, she is now eligible to move into the next level of competition, among 1700 other students. “We’re still waiting to hear if she’ll be invited to continue,” says her teacher Sophie Sykes. One thing Azura learned was to change her thinking patterns for the next competition. “I don’t have to be nervous,” she says. “I can just have fun.”

Tahsis came to a similar conclusion. “I learned that math competitions are pretty fun, especially when you’re competing with a lot of people,” he says. “Next time, I’ll think ‘I’m ready, it doesn’t matter what the problems are, I’m going to get them all right.’” Congratulations to our three contestants!