Progress Update—August 2018

 

Dear parents of Forest School heroes,

You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.

Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else's path.
You are not on your own path.

If you follow someone else's way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.

― Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey
 

As of today we have 31 heroes from 22 families enrolled at The Forest School for our founding year. We are so excited for you to get to know—and to encourage one another—on our unique heroes journeys. We are thrilled for our upcoming Welcome Celebration potluck on August 12, 2018, from 4-6pm on campus, as well as our first day of school on August 13!

We and a team of Guides, board members, and volunteers have been hard at work to launch the school. Below you will find updates about our progress.

Guide Training

Two weeks ago our three Founding Guides—Lisa, Caleb, and Amber—attended training in Washington D.C. with other Acton Guides from around the country. That training built upon a visit Lisa and Caleb made to an Acton Academy in New Orleans—NOLA Microschools—in mid-May. They reported the trainings were “crucial.” If interested, you can read their reflections—and our responses—here.

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Books

Lisa and John Hinehan, Joan and Roger Thigpen, and we donated 10+ boxes of books to begin The Forest School library. Please join us in thanking Lisa, John, Roger, and Joan! Our remaining library budget this year will be used to purchase books that our learners prefer, that include a diverse set of heroes, and that intentionally broaden their horizons. Book donations can be made anytime by emailing Tyler to set up a drop off day and time.

Space and Facilities

With 31 heroes—16 elementary, 15 middle, and 1 high school, we needed to find more space for our founding year. After research with facilities experts, collaboration with Fayette County, and team reflection, we decided: to situate the Middle School Studio in the downstairs of the house at 1065 Hood Rd (previously “Pinewood Forest Mission Control”); to rent and place a large modular unit next to the house at 1065 Hood Rd for our Elementary Studio; to build a field next to the house and modular unit for outdoor activities; and to fence in the campus for security. Creating active learning spaces, maintaining at least 90 sq ft per learner, and achieving ADA compliance were top priorities for these decisions. After much work—including tremendous help and support from Pinewood Forest—we are pleased to report the house is ADA compliant and ready for the Certificate of Occupancy for the first day of school. The modular unit still needs a few days of work until it will be ready for its Certificate of Occupancy. Given the heavy and persistent days of rain lately...we look forward to some drier days when the work can finish up so we can set up the room.

 Joy with expert architect, Danish Kurani

Joy with expert architect, Danish Kurani

 See Danish's work at https://kurani.us/

See Danish's work at https://kurani.us/

When our learners enter the school on Day 1, there will be a bare-bones amount of furniture. This is purposeful. We have set aside a portion of our budget for our heroes themselves to design both their Studios and outdoor spaces based on their needs, wants, and various design constraints. By taking responsibility for the school environment and making decisions about how the school should function, our heroes will take ownership of their learning from the get go!

Camp Southern Ground

We have a unique opportunity to have a school-wide overnight retreat at Camp Southern Ground on September 24-25, 2018. On Day 1, CSG staff will lead fun, team-building activities culminating with a campfire. On Day 2, The Forest School Guides will lead activities focused on our learners’ first Exhibition. Our three Founding Guides, Joan Thigpen, and we will serve as chaperones. To maintain a ratio of 1 adult for every 6 heroes, we need 2-3 more male and 1-2 more female volunteers to serve as chaperones from 8am Sept 24 to 3pm Sept 25. Parents can express their interest in this brief form. More details about this exciting retreat are forthcoming.

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The first Exhibition

The overarching question for the year is “What is culture? How is it created?” The sub-question for Session 1 is “Who am I? And who are we as a school?” The first Exhibition, happening Thursday evening, September 27, 2018, will be “The Forest School Museum,” which will serve as a culmination of the Session 1 Quests.

Exhibitions are designed to be hero-led events at which learners demonstrate development of skills and knowledge and add meaningful value to all who attend. The Forest School Museum imagines a time when anthropologists from the future recreate the space and daily routines of The Forest School with a cultural exhibit. What was this space? What kind of school was it? What were the students like who studied here? What kind of community did they form? What kind of culture did they create?

This first Exhibition is designed to empower heroes to articulate to their families and friends the culture they are creating. It will also include a “call to action” to TFS parents to join our heroes on their journeys. Be sure to save the date!

Press

In recent months, The Forest School has been featured locally (The Atlanta Journal Constitution) and nationally (once in Getting Smart and twice in Education Week here and here). The Forest School was also the feature of an education innovation seminar held at a national convening of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the member organization for our nation’s private schools.

Joining the Mastery Transcript Consortium

Two weeks ago The Forest School was welcomed into the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), a collective of high schools organized around the development and dissemination of an alternative model of assessment, crediting, and transcript generation. The MTC aims to change the relationship between preparation for college and college admissions for the betterment of students. While traditional transcripts show academic gains only, MTC is building a transcript that shows not just academics (Learn to Learn), but also social and emotional learning (Learn to Be), 21st century skills (Learn to Do), and collaboration abilities (Learn to Live Together). Because Georgia law requires that learners have a grade point average (GPA), The Forest School high schoolers will have one. Joining the MTC ensures our high schoolers can showcase more of the learning we all know is important in our children’s lives.

Atlanta Magazine

We have an exciting opportunity to help benefit other families wanting to be a part of our school. Pinewood Forest, along with Atlanta Magazine, is hosting an Idea Home. Tours will be on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from September 15 through October 7. Proceeds go towards our scholarship fund, and we need hosts to volunteer. Marci Hoffman will be our parent coordinator for these events. For more info—email marcihoffman@me.com.

Chromebooks

Thank you to Gabe Hoffman and to his and Marci’s middle school-aged sons, Josiah and Jeremiah, for running stress tests and installing GoGuardian on all the Chromebooks to provide security and safe searching. Thanks to their work—and to our 1GB internet connectivity which is now installed—we are ready for laptop usage on Day 1.

Logistics

The week of August 6 we will send you an email about drop off and pick up, communications, and other operations items regarding the school.

 

See you at the Welcome Celebration!

Joy and Tyler

 
Tyler Thigpen