Three years ago, I was approached by another mom at Wogene’s preschool who asked if I had ever considered the possibility of starting a charter school. Admittedly, I had not, but her idea intrigued me as we continued to talk over the upcoming weeks. A grassroots effort stemmed from that discussion and others similar to it, and our community’s first charter school will open its doors this August. It certainly hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t always been fun, but without a doubt it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Shining Rock Classical Academy will offer students a solid classical education, but just as importantly, we are developing a comprehensive experiential/place-based program, by grade, which complements what our students learn in the classroom, focusing on local history and culture, science, environmental awareness, community involvement and the arts.
The aspect I’m most jazzed about, however, is our plan to implement opportunities that take advantage of the wilderness areas in our region. This can be as simple as a kindergarten class exploring our amazing campus, using all five of their senses while they journal what they experience in pictures and words, to our older grades taking a multi-day backpacking trip in the paradise that surrounds us here in the mountains. In short, it’s going to rock.
Like any public school, we are not funded adequately. To make it even more of a challenge, we receive about 17% less funding that traditional public schools. Money for necessities like a facility and buses? We’re left to our own devices to figure it out. As you can imagine, there is a lot of fundraising going on at all times.
To raise awareness and funding for our experiential programs, my family and I are starting a quest today which we have affectionately dubbed “1500K for Shining Rock,” and we will collectively hike 1500 kilometers. Along the way, we’ll post updates here on the blog, providing a glimpse of what our students are capable of learning in wilderness areas (hint: A LOT!) as well as keeping tabs on our overall mileage. To show our own support for the school and its vision, Larry and I are matching our donations, up to $5000.
So without further adieu, let’s hit the trail! Oh, by the way, who knows the conversion rate from miles to kilometers (without looking it up on Google)? Take it a step further and tell me how many miles my family will hike after we reach our goal of 1500 kilometers. See? We haven’t even gotten to the trail report yet, and already you’re working your brain. 🙂
So about that trail report. It’s been a bit of a secret, and when this post is scheduled to go “live,” we will be on the trail hiking. You’ll understand why it needed to remain a secret soon enough. Just know this–it’s an epic start to our adventure. Want a hint about our location? It’s the third highest peak in a national park that straddles the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Here’s a fascinating recent article from the Smoky Mountain news about winter on its summit.
Until we return, happy first day of spring!
|The Shining Rock Falcons, ready to take flight on the trail (with the addition of our good buddy, Teagan!) And yes, Wogene is in there–just hidden behind his hat!|