My deepest appreciation goes out to what must be one of the most forward-thinking schools in this country — Whidbey’s own Calyx Community Arts School.
My daughter, Paloma, started attending Calyx in the fall of 2018.
I found it to be the perfect place for her because of the integrated, nature-oriented curriculum and the strong emphasis on deep listening and social-emotional learning, fostered within a multi-age context — the students range in age from 5 to 12.
Prior to COVID-19, the students started their school day with a long forest walk behind the school building, which is the South Whidbey State Park ranger house.
These walks typically involved the close study of a particular flora or fauna, such as lichens, birds, and trees.
I believe that the morning walks were very important in helping to encourage deeper and more grounded, no pun intended, learning for the rest of the day.
In fact, the most challenging part of Calyx for me as a parent — prior to COVID-19 — was when it came to picking Paloma up at the end of the day. I felt so blessed that my main sticking point was in Paloma not being quite ready to part with her friends, her teachers, lovingly referred to as mentors, and the “school grounds.”
The amount of appreciation that I felt for Calyx prior to COVID-19 was immense. However, how Calyx transitioned an online curriculum due to the pandemic completely amazed me.
The mentors were able to restructure the curriculum in a matter of a few short days into three daily Zoom sessions; the new structure felt perhaps not quite as organic as forest walks, but came as close as it could, given the addition of massive technology.
To me, the new daily online class structure felt intensely similar to my breathwork meditations — inhale (coming together on Zoom) — exhale (moving into a dedicated self-directed activity) — inhale (coming back together on Zoom and sharing what was learned) — exhale (moving out into self-directed activity) — inhale (afternoon Zoom re-group).
The online transformation performed by the mentors was beautifully organized and masterfully executed.
Team Calyx, thank you for being such a positive, consistent, and inspirational pillar of support for my daughter. You are amazing.