Village School

School News

Updated Thu, Jan 17th

Graduating Family

It’s hard to believe that our family has been attending the Village camping trip for ten years, whether it has been for the full weekend experience or just one day of the weekend each year! In 2008, our daughter was a Kinder Kitty, our son was in preschool and our now 5th grader was only 11 months old! I enjoyed looking around during the six hours my youngest and I were there this month at the KOA, seeing all the new families who are where we were 10 years ago, with little ones in tow! It just made me realize that “way back then” really does not feel that long ago at all! I can appreciate when our whole family was able to travel together on these trips, even with how much work it felt like to get ready for a weekend of camping with three little ones, whereas now there are so many commitments that a middle schooler and high schooler have that there are times we can’t all travel together.

I asked the kids for their memories of the camping trips over the years. Some highlights include 3-day weekends at Thousand Trails campground, campfires, skit night, alum dad Steve Rappa playing guitar and singing with kids singing along and dancing, swimming in the freezing cold, huge pool, friends who “adopted” a feral kitten found at the campground, and hiking the trail above the playground that seemed so scary for parents to watch the kids climb, but kids having a blast!

Then at the KOA campground, being near the beach was a highlight for sure with picnics on the beach and boogie boarding Saturday afternoons, the bouncy pillow, banana bikes, potluck dinners, the independence our kids felt as they got older and played with friends at other campsites, but especially time with other families, making new friends and building on established friendships.

I love that this is an annual tradition, allowing people to connect early in the school year. I love that many teachers come — even when they have been with our kids all week! The camping committee should feel so proud of their hard work to make this community event happen, as well as the effort and energy it takes every family to make it “over the hill” on a Friday to keep this tradition alive!

For our family, remembering our years of Village camping trips is only the beginning of many reflections to come this year, our last year with this awesome Village community.

 

New Family

When we first found out about Village, we knew this could be a great place for our son. Village’s philosophy, school grounds, monthly field trips, and the idea behind centers appealed to us. Parent participation was also a huge plus. Positive Discipline and No Bully training provided to the parents are not really heard of in most schools so it was amazing to have this. Those that spoke during the open house and orientation were so passionate about Village — their openness, smiles and welcoming demeanor made us feel right at home.

During Kinder Roundup, our son immediately felt comfortable meeting both kindergarten teachers and exploring the school grounds. We were excited for him to start kindergarten, play, learn, and make new friends. I was also excited to meet new families and join in on events.

Camping was amazing. If you knew me from Gretchen’s class, I was the one that was all pumped up and so excited for camping — I was packed and ready to go a few days early. The KOA was absolutely perfect for a school camping trip, especially our very first. The choice of lodgings, along with the overall site made it within reach for anyone that may want to join. It was certainly a time to bond with other families and hang out more with those we already knew. Our camp neighbors were so nice to invite us over several times which made it even more wonderful. Families welcomed us and our son. We loved seeing him having such a wonderful time. It was great to see him hanging out with several of his classmates, having so much fun and also seeing the older kids happy to take him places and watch out for him. He felt so comfortable with other families and would just go from place to place with his friends.

Since school started we just love it more and more. I know he’s learning so much in so many ways. Staff, kids and parents are all so warm, friendly and kind. I’ve never seen anything other than smiles and people eager to help others.

Village is such a sweet school — we ask our son every day if he had a good day at school, and it’s always a, “Yes!” We couldn’t ask for a better start to his elementary years.

 

New Family

Our family loves to camp and we were looking forward to the Village Camping Trip. We had been pretty busy so we didn’t spend any time researching the campsite and because we have never camped at a KOA before, we didn’t really know what to expect. When we arrived at Watsonville KOA we were surprised to see all of the kid-friendly amenities. We are tent campers and to be honest I was not impressed with the tent sites because there was not much space on the sites and they are very close to the neighboring sites. However, that quickly didn’t matter because our neighbors were other kindergarten families and we spent most of our time at other campsites, cabins, the playground and the bouncy pillow.

Our daughters loved the freedom to roam with other friends, playing on the playground, bouncy pillow, riding the train and just checking out friends’ cabins/ campsites. Thankfully we followed the tip to bring walkie-talkies. I loved to see the older kids reaching out to my daughters and playing with them. My girls felt loved and special because the older girls included them. This has been an extra bonus to being a part of the Village community.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know other kindergarten parents, especially around the shared meals and campfires. Our experience on the Village Camping Trip only solidified what we have come to know already in our quick time as new Villagers… Village is a community that loves to have fun, looks out for each other, and is welcoming to all. We are so happy to be a part of the Village community and look forward to next year’s camping trip. We were so busy having fun, we only got one picture: a silly camping selfie.

Updated Thu, Jan 10th

An Interview with 2nd Grade Teacher Elizabeth

Tell us about the new Makerspace! What was your inspiration?

It is a space where the students can go to create things. What they are creating is up to them and their teachers. It might be a time for them to just tinker with materials and come up with something on their own, or it might be a design thinking problem. They may be asked to create something that solves a problem at school, home, or in society at large. Different teachers are doing different things and integrating it into their curriculum in different ways.
 
I have been advocating for a Makerspace in our school. I think all of us have wanted to include this for our students, but it has definitely been a passion for me to get it up and running. Many schools, or rather most, have some type of space on their campus for this purpose.
 

How are art and music working with the new space? What changes will we see this year?
This year Art and the Makerspace will share Room 8. Music will be in the classrooms this year. We now contract with Rhythm and Moves, who also provide our PE curriculum.
 

When I think Makerspace I imagine power tools and hammers and hot glue guns and all sorts of cool stuff… Can you explain what our kids will have access to this year and what you hope to introduce? 
Well, the goal is for them to have access to all sorts of things. The room is a work in progress. I think eventually we will order some new tech tables and stools along with some storage so the students can access the materials they need to build and create. The idea is that they will learn to use these tools and they will be accessible to them during their time in the Makerspace. This will obviously depend on their grade level.
 

Anything else to add?
Makerspaces are popping up all over — not only in schools, but in community centers, libraries, and other places in our communities. They promote creativity and problem solving and provide access to materials to people who otherwise might not have access to these things.
  

Updated Thu, Dec 20th

We all know we have an amazing group of parents at Village, but did you know we have a textile artist extraordinaire as well as a tiny house crafter? These two moms are sharing their creative gifts with the community this year through centers and their enthusiasm couldn’t be more contagious!

 

Q&A with JC, Village School Parent

Tell us what center you’re leading this year! How does it tie in with your personal passions/creative gifts?
This year I am leading a center called Mini House Design, inspired by the book If I Could Build A House, in which a kid dreams up a super fun, imaginative house and builds it. I thought it would be a fun idea because as an interior designer, I get to create spaces for my clients, and it has been an incredibly rewarding career. For me, work feels like play, and I’d like to offer an experience that may inspire some of these kids to follow their own dreams and perhaps strive toward a career that fills them with joy.

How does it make you feel to share a little bit of your creative world with the children?
I feel honored to share a little of my world with these kids because I know their daily experience at Village is carefully curated and very highly regarded, so to be a part of it is quite special. As an artist and designer I tend to undervalue my skills and profession sometimes, but leading this center has reminded me of the importance of what I do. Not only do I feel honored, but I feel grateful for the opportunity and the reminder that art and creativity are just as important as our other academic pursuits.

Any words of wisdom/advice for budding young designers?
My advice to young designers, and all students for that matter, is to follow your hearts and pay close attention to what fills you with joy. Have confidence in your strengths and don’t underestimate the power of creative thought.

 

Q&A with Erin, Village School Parent

Tell us what center you’re leading this year! How does it tie in with your personal passions/creative gifts?
This year I am leading the Weaving Center. I am really excited about it. I started weaving almost 2 years ago and absolutely love it. For me it is meditative. I love creating with textiles and seeing all of the different things you can create with different fibers and materials.

How does it make you feel to share a little bit of your creative world with the children?
I am very excited for this center! When I wrote the curriculum, I kept it to basic weaving techniques and left the rest of it open ended so the kids can create freely. I cannot wait to see what they come up with!

Any words of wisdom/advice for budding young weavers/textile lovers/knitters, etc.?
My advice is, don’t give up. My first weaving was a mess. The edges were not straight, and I didn’t know how to make fringe or finalize a weaving. I wanted to give up, but my artist friend found beauty in my mess and pushed me to keep going, and I am always grateful he did. Your first weaving or textile creation might not be perfect, but there is beauty in imperfection, and you can always learn from your mistakes.

I love this quote about creativity… “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

Updated Thu, Dec 13th

By Asami, Parent Education Trainer and Village School Parent

There are nights I am putting my kids to bed when I tell myself, “I’ll just close my eyes for a second…” then I wake up around 2am next to a drooling child, still in my clothes, about 1/3 of my makeup intact. I transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, making mental to-do lists for the next day as I survey the state of the house on my way to the kitchen to eat a bag of chips or a bowl of cereal over the sink for dinner. Last night it was a delicious bag of Trader Joe’s Nacho chips (need to add that to shopping list).
 

I hear similar stories from fellow parents of having a constant feeling of running to keep up with the volume of responsibilities.
 

In Dr. Jane Nelsen’s books “Positive Discipline For Working Parents” and “Positive Discipline for Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent,” there is discussion on the topic of “Honoring Your Needs First”” When trying to keep up with the endless to-do lists, things parents tend to de-prioritize are often the very things that make life enjoyable. Fun activities, relaxing or time for self care can be viewed as luxuries or even as selfish compared to household tasks and supporting the needs of the family.
 

From my own experience, I have a hard time prioritizing exercise. When I exercise, I generally feel happier, more energized and patient. I am prompting the best version of myself. Everyone I am in close proximity with will benefit from this (I can see my husband nodding his head as he proofreads this). In addition, I am modeling to my children the importance of self care and life balancing.
 

When in the moment of feeling swallowed by emails, the lack of clean clothes, an empty refrigerator and running late to getting kids to an activity, finding time to exercise sounds impossible. But who suffers? Everyone. I do not get the immediate benefits, I am not able to be as focused or efficient at work, I have been told my attitude is curt and my children and husband get a non-Positive Discipline version of myself (I am the “before” version from Positive Discipline class role plays). In addition, I may be giving my children the impression that parenting is all work and obligations that require sacrificing doing things you enjoy. If my children choose to have their own families, I want them to spend time with friends, enjoy activities and prioritize their personal needs.
 

I believe my approach needs to change from “finding time” to “making time.” Another motivating tool is a visual aid. A fellow Parent Ed team member discussed taking a selfie of “scary mommy” — the face your child and loved ones see when you are irritated, when your lid is flipped. 
 

I did. Bummer… That lady is not someone who looks like she wants to listen or be kind or who is fun to be around. She looks like she is full of judgement and irritated by my mere existence. This is not even a true representation. I would ask my husband to take a real life example (plenty of opportunities), but he has his own wellbeing to consider.
 

If you have been able to prioritize self care, I salute you. If you are still finding this a challenge, I encourage you to consider joining me on a mission to “make time.”

Updated Thu, Dec 6th

An Interview with No Bully Pioneer Teacher Aisling and Principal David

While the phrase No Bully strikes an immediate chord in the current school climate of today, the program title does not fully convey what this truly solutions-based process is all about — respect, inclusiveness, and asset building for all those involved.

In July 2012, Seth’s Law, aimed at reducing the rise of bullying in California, prompted and required all public schools to adopt some sort of policy and procedure for identifying, receiving and investigating bullying complaints. In the spirit of the Village way, a group of teachers and parents partnered to research and select a program that not only checked all of these boxes, but went steps beyond.

Implemented in the 2013/14 school year, the No Bully system helps us not only identify, receive and investigate complaints, but also has a big-picture goal of building an inclusive school culture, and we have found that the difference is in the solution (Solution Teams, that is)!

But before we can talk solution (or Solution Teams, that is), it’s important that we understand what bullying is. According to No Bully, bullying occurs when a student repeatedly attempts to hurt, humiliate or exclude another less powerful student. The four main ways in which bullying happen are:

Physical Bullying — when a student uses physical force to hurt another student by hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, taking a student’s belongings or stealing their money.

Verbal Bullying — when a student uses or gestures to humiliate another student by threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule.

Relational Bullying — when a student isolates another student from their peer group through leaving them out, gossiping, spreading rumors, and scapegoating.

Cyberbullying — when a student uses a cell-phone, text messages, emails, instant messaging, chats, and social networking sites to harm another student in any of the ways described above.

Despite laws mandating schools to address bullying, the challenge for many has been finding effective solutions to not only meet the requirement, but create a real change. No Bully developed the No Bully system, a step-by-step process that focuses on four levels — Preventing bullying & building an inclusive culture, Interrupting bullying and referring instances of bullying to a Solution Coach, Holding a Solution Team and following up, and Implementing an empathy-building action plan.

While punitive responses to bullying are based on the belief that students involved in bullying lack the capacity for positive feeling and are best redirected by punishment, the No Bully System focuses on empathy, caring about each child and respecting their perspective and feelings. It’s this focus on no blame and support for social and emotional growth and learning that made it a good fit for Village.

Our north star or guiding principle in the implementation of No Bully at Village and our efforts to build that inclusive culture begins with our Village Vision statement —  

“We all belong. We are all significant.
As we work, learn and play, we come together with compassion and respect.”

Developed by the community at the start of the implementation of No Bully over five years ago, this Vision Statement is what we strive to be, and we put these words into action every day with our Village Values — Modeling Respect, Making Good Choices and Solving Problems.

There are countless examples of our M&MS in action on our Village campus each day, but we also have instances where kids are still learning how to socially interact and are trying behaviors that don’t align with our Vision & Values. This is why we are so lucky to be at a parent participation school where we have lots of adults on campus, and each of us plays a vital role in the No Bully process by watching, interrupting and reporting any negative, targeted and repeated social interactions amongst kids.

If you do witness actions that may be bullying, please complete the Adult Report Form available in the office. Our No Bully team of Solution Coaches, made up of teachers and staff, will investigate and decide the best next steps, one of which might be a Solution Team.

Teachers Aisling and Chris and staff member Michele were trained as Solution Coaches at the onset of No Bully, and along with former Village staff member Becky. Seeing the value and success in the process, there is good news to report, our team of Solution Coaches has expanded! In October, teachers Gretchen, Talia and Roberta received training through the No Bully program and are also now available to run Solution Teams. Additionally, our new administrative assistant Veronica will be trained very soon.

Of course, not all negative social interactions amongst kids are bullying. Many are student  conflict, and it’s important to note the difference. Conflict occurs when two students disagree because each perceives the other is getting in the way of their needs, concerns, or goals. While conflict is not bullying, conflict can become bullying if a child repeatedly attempts to take power over another to resolve conflict by using physical or verbal abuse.

Trained to know the difference and respond in the most appropriate way, our Solution Coaches combine empathy with action and aim to add tools to students’ social toolboxes, either via Solution Teams or other means of support, focusing on social emotional growth and especially Empathy, one of the 5 competencies included in Campbell Union School District’s Profile of a Graduate.

“Empathy ties in directly with what students develop through working on a Solution Team,” says Principal David, “And supports Village’s core belief of focusing on the whole child.”

If it’s decided that a Solution Team might be a helpful option, the Solution Team coach would first get permission from the targeted child. At this point, the targeted child’s parent would also be looped in, so they are aware of the situation and know that their child has been given the option of a Solution Team and what he/she has chosen.

“This process is about the child being given, and having the power of, a voice to talk to us and to have another adult to check in with and help them relationship-build,” says Teacher Aisling. “A team only happens if the targeted child wants it. If not, we might identify other ways to help that child and other children involved with whatever asset(s) they are working on building.”

In a Solution Team, the group is brought together with one focus in mind, says Teacher Aisling, “What can we do to help?” The Solution Team coach facilitates the discussion and has everyone in the group provide a suggestion. After this initial solution-brainstorming session, the group is then brought back together for quick check-ins to see if they have been able to try any of their suggestions and how it went. For example, when a student was asked what she did to help on a Solution Team, she said, “I sat with her at lunch.”

While the team takes a collaborative approach, the Solution Coaches will also work with both the target and bully individually to build assets, says Teacher Aisling. Often times the child in the perceived role of bully can be lacking skills that lead to the bullying behavior.

From start to finish, the Solution Team process takes about three-four weeks with a three month follow up. All Solution Team coaches meet with teams during their prep periods, so kids are not missing recess and don’t feel as if they are being punished in any way, says teacher Aisling. Parents of those children involved will receive a notice that their child has participated in a Solution Team. If you receive a notice, please ask your child what they did to help. This will only reinforce their asset-building. And most of all, trust the process, says Teacher Aisling. The coaches do keep a log of all reports and Solution Teams, but there is no public reporting done in order to protect all the kids’ privacy and to help ensure kids aren’t stuck in a perceived role of target or bully.

As part of a proactive approach, our Solution coaches also manage Welcome Teams, which were created to help new Village students, 1st–5th grades to acclimate to a new school and community. Solution Team coaches meet with each new student at the beginning of the year and “get to know” them and offer whatever support they may need to make connections and feel safe, so they can get off to a good start.

No Bully and its use of Solution Teams is not just a program, but a means of using empathy to problem solve, and a tool for helping our community continue to strive to build a culture of inclusiveness. Principal David is pleased to share that since our adoption of the No Bully program, the number of Solution Teams run per year has decreased, which means it’s working! Research shows that ALL kids are capable of empathy and kindness, and we want to create conditions that support and reinforce these behaviors in OUR Village.

Updated Thu, Nov 29th

It’s a brand new school year and there are several new faces on campus. Actually, several of them are not new, but they are “official” this year. Take a moment to learn about our three new staff members this year. And if you see them on campus, give them a “Welcome” shout-out!

 

Administrative Assistant Veronica, Parent of two Village Alumni

Tell us a little about yourself. For example, where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Bay Area?
I moved from Oregon when I was 4, so I have lived in this area for most of my life.

What are your interests outside of Village? What are some things you and your family like to do for fun?
I love spending time with my brothers and going to the movies.

What are some of your favorite and most rewarding moments in a day at school?
The first hug of the day and smiles from kids! Becky always said it is
the best job in the world and it is true. I also like when there is a lost tooth, it¹s very exciting!

Do the students teach you things? If so, what do you learn from them?
Yes, their logic is the best — things they state so very matter of factly, often just stating the fact that I am not Becky. One 1st grader told me to get her on the first day after he discovered it’s now my desk.

Is there anything you¹d like to add?
I am so happy being here at Village. Becky knew it would be a good fit and
she was totally right. I do miss her everyday.

 

Yard Duty Staff Member Amanda, Parent of Two Village Students

We moved to the Bay Area 5 years ago from the East Coast (Boston) with a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old. My husband was running a research lab out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and teaching immunology, microbiology and pathology at Harvard. I had left a 15 year dental career to stay home with my kids. Jim got an amazing offer at a medical research company in Mountain View, and he was excited to explore the industrial side of research after many great years on the academic side.

We learned about Village while researching schools, and I loved the parent participation aspect of it. I’ve always loved kids and I was (and am) so excited to continue to be hands on with children even while my own kids are at school. Our whole extended family is back East, so the village aspect of Village is crucial to me. Raising 3 kids with no family around is tough, and even as a stay at home mom I’d really be in trouble without the close network of Village friends I’ve made over the years. I’m blessed with many fellow Village parents who will help with my kids if I ask, and there is usually a Village kid or two kicking around my backyard on a weekly basis!

Our family loves to hike and explore, bike and kayak…doing something outside is pretty much where you will find us on any given weekend. Adding #3 to our family in 2016 has slowed us down a bit (while simultaneously accelerating my aging process) but we are starting to get back into the groove of getting out and about again.

I’m excited to be on board at Village and look forward to spending more time and effort here as my little guy gets bigger and easier to manage!

 

Music teacher, Diana W., known to our kids as “Ms. D”

I’m a true local! I was born in Mountain View, grew up in Campbell, and have traveled plenty but never moved out of the Bay Area. I went to Forest Hill Elementary School, Rolling Hills Middle School, Westmont High School, and Santa Clara University. When I had my two kids and became a stay at home mom, I started performing in various musical groups as a way of fulfilling myself outside of full-time motherhood. I began teaching private music lessons as well as in school music classrooms because it allows me to continue working professionally with what and who I’m most passionate and knowledgeable about: music, education, and kids.

I started playing piano when I was four years old…my mom was cleaning the kitchen and heard piano playing along with the Sesame Street record Sesame Jamboree. She didn’t remember there being a piano part in that particular song so she came in to investigate and found me playing along to the song on our family piano as though I was part of the band. She signed me up for piano lessons right away and I’ve been playing and performing music ever since.

I am a hard core music geek and I love to talk music with other fellow music appreciators. I don’t have a favorite type of music because I love listening to and enjoy playing every genre! But I would not be who I am today without the Beatles, 80’s music, classic rock, No Doubt, The Sound of Music Soundtrack, and Queen. My primary instruments are piano, bass guitar, and voice, but I’ve also played flute, clarinet, ukulele, guitar, saxophone, and drums as well. I’ve performed in a church bands and choirs, a garage band (when I was in high school), a Top 40 cover band, a blues band, a southern rock band, a rockabilly band, a barbershop chorus and quartet, and a Queen tribute band.

The company I work for, Rhythm & Moves, placed me at Village. I enjoy the warm and welcoming environment, the bright/creative students and staff, the smaller class sizes, and the family atmosphere (I get a hug from at least one student every time I’m on campus).

In my free time, I like to spend time with my family (I have an 11 year old daughter and an 8 year old son who both love to sing and play the piano), spend time with friends, write/record/practice/jam/perform music, read, swim, skateboard, laugh, ride roller coasters, boogie board, bake, and garden.

I love my job!!!! Fun fact: I am part native Hawaiian and I so love the culture and huge ohana that I grew up in, which gave me great appreciation for family, community, art, different kinds of foods, and listening to people’s stories. I do private music lessons for children and currently teach music in 4 public schools in Campbell and San Jose. Come say hi and find me online! www.dianareymusic.com

 

Updated Thu, Nov 8th

Self-Directed, Innovative, Collaborative, Empathetic, and Critical Thinkers; these are the characteristics of our district’s “Profile of a Graduate.” Aligning with our motto of “Education Beyond the Expected,” in August our district issued a call for all of us to take notice when our students demonstrate these competencies.

Moving forward, teachers and educators in our district will develop tools that enable students to understand and self-evaluate the level in which they, or their group, are effectively engaged in these competencies. We will move beyond serendipity (the process of stumbling toward discovery) and purposefully engage students in conversations about the life-skill competencies found in “The Profile of a Graduate.” We will teach students how to be expert learners, understanding that learning doesn’t end when school does.

The Village School philosophy calls for projects, group work, the use of technology, and the inclusion of visual and performing arts to provide multiple opportunities for children to show what they know. A intuitive balance of standards-driven education with hands-on curriculum rounds out the Village School experience.

When parents and staff work together for the good of the child, the end result is a student who is able to take on leadership roles around the community, and excel academically. Students matriculating from Village School are able to work in a variety of settings, set goals for themselves, and advocate for others. These are the skills necessary for college and career success in our world today.

Updated Wed, Aug 22nd

Parent Volunteer Coaches for Village’s Girls on the Run (GOTR) program reflect on what this program is all about.

What is Girls on the Run?

By Marci, Coach and Village School Parent

Girls on the run is an awesome program that has been part of Village for 7 years now. Over a period of 10 weeks, girls in the 3rd through 5th grade participate in an after-school program like no other. Designed to allow every girl to recognize her inner strength, the Girls on the Run curriculum inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms.Throughout the season, the girls make new friends, build their confidence and celebrate all that makes them unique.

The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development. The girls explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age. They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences.

Physical activity is a great part of the program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health. At the end of the season, the girls participate in a Girls on the Run 5K event.

 

GOTR Coaching Reflection

By Lisa, Coach and Village School Parent 

As a new kinder parent at Village, trying to adjust to and learn to actually use in real life this new Positive Discipline parenting philosophy, I was struggling to wrangle kindergartners and thinking about how much extra work this new parenting style seemed to be. Granted, this was nine years ago, back before the Positive Discipline at School classes for new families became a thing; back then, parents were pretty much tossed into the classroom frying pan with minimal guidance to duke it out with the kinders. It all seemed so chaotic, and I wondered whether all of the Positive Discipline and other strategies that we were learning to use with our Villagers really worked; there seemed so little evidence of it at times in the lower grades.

But there is a magic that happens at Village as the years progress. It is subtle in the lower grades, but it is percolating in the kids under the surface. The magic starts to emerge, like butterflies emerging from their chrysalides, as the kids move into third grade, and it is in full bloom by 4th and 5th grade. As you work with kids in the classroom, you are witness to this beautiful transformation. But nowhere is this wonderful flowering of our children as a result of the gardens that we as parents have so lovingly tended through the years as evident as it is in Girls on the Run (GOTR). 

GOTR sounds like a running program, but it is really about empowering girls to be self-confident, competent, caring and empathetic, able to connect with people, contribute to community and society, and have strength of character. These are also the life skills that Village teaches, so by the time our girls are old enough to participate in GOTR (3rd grade), they have been bathed in these GOTR-like messages consistently at school for many years. The messages are familiar to them. Being a GOTR coach has shown me that our girls have taken these messages in over the years. As a coach, I have had the privilege of witnessing how emotionally intelligent and thoughtful our daughters have become through our work as a community at Village. I have seen it grow from the mostly-quiet (observing) 3rd grade girls to the talkative (enthusiastic) 4th graders to the “we got this” thoughtful wisdom of the 5th graders. 

GOTR re-enforces what our girls already know in a very personal way. It gives them a unique, girls-only place where they are unconditionally supported to talk without fear and practice their life skills. It affirms for them that they are OK just how they are. GOTR gives the 5th grade girls an opportunity to act as leaders and mentors to the younger girls, and gives the younger girls a chance to learn from the older girls.

My daughter, now a 5th grader, has been a GOTR girl since 2nd grade; this is her last year. I am honored to have been a part of GOTR, and to have had the opportunity to get to know these wonderful girls better, to learn from their wisdom and experiences, and to remember again what it is like to be a young girl growing up.

Updated Wed, Aug 22nd

“Are you on the North American Continent?”

“YES!”

“Are you in the United States?”

“Yes!”

“Are you on the West Coast?”

“NO!”

And so they go on until we’ve finally found out that this classroom of 4th and 5th grade students, with whom the 4/5th grade Talented Toucans are video conferencing via Google Hangouts, exists in northern Illinois. They learn the town, the school name and some of the history of that region once the location has been confirmed.

And vice versa; once the students in Illinois find out our students are in the South Bay, our students take turns in front of the computer teaching some of the history of California.

The kids have maps in front of them and get a thrill out of the hunt for the other class’ location, they get to see the inside of another classroom, and they get to practice the give and take of knowledge and pleasantries.

Updated Wed, Aug 8th

By Amilia, Village School Parent and Positive School Climate Chair

From homemade soap to gooey slime, from hand-crafted artisan jars to tasty BBQ ribs, the annual Village Maker’s Faire had something for everybody! This was my first year attending Maker’s Faire and, I must admit, I approached it with more than a little hesitation… Did I really want to give up my Sunday afternoon? Would my kids whine about what they did or didn’t get to buy?

Well, I can admit it. I was wrong. Very wrong!

In fact, none of my concerns were realized. My kids were excited to see their friends and were inspired by their many hobbies and talents. They learned restraint and confidently budgeted the money I had allocated them beforehand. They demonstrated generosity, seeking out treasures not just for themselves, but for each other. They even used their funds to buy me Mother’s Day gifts, which they wrapped secretly after we got home!

I, in turn, was awed by the creativity and talent of so many of our Village students and parents. I was excited by the pride and passion with which our budding entrepreneurs hawked their wares. And I was, once again, inspired by the ease and comfort with which this wonderful community can come together to celebrate each other and share interests.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, I encourage you to join us next year. You can bet I’ll be there, perhaps this time showing off one of my super-secret, never-before-shared talents… You’ll just have to be there find out! In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what you missed!