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Hello Steven, Sharon, Makeba and Miki!

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We are Sharon and Steve, parents of two sweet and energetic girls, Makeba and Miki. After many years in the United States, we finally returned to this beautiful country and are more than thrilled to have joined Woodland Star School’s community this year. We learned about Woodland Star School from the internet and couldn’t believe our luck given that we’d be moving to a farm just 10 minutes away. After meeting and getting to know the wonderful faculty, staff and parents, it became clear that this would be a wonderful place for us.

Coming home has been bittersweet. Just as we were introducing our girls to our wonderful extended family, we lost Sharon’s Dad early this year. There’s no adequate guidebook on resettling back in Kenya and the re-adjustment process has brought many new challenges we never imagined we’d face.

Right now, we’re learning to take each day as it comes and stay focused on our goals and dreams. One of those dreams is to build a small farm based cottage industry, crafting specialty teas and beers right here in Tigoni. Pretty lofty, right? Well, just getting together with people working on similar projects to share knowledge and grow would be a great accomplishment for us.

Another big goal of ours is to help create awareness about Kenya’s amazing aquatic ecosystems and wildlife. Just about everyone in Kenya knows about the “Big Five”, but how about our diverse (and often vilified) amphibians, reptiles and water bugs? Part of Sharon’s work as an aquatic ecologist will be to bring local and international students and faculty here to conduct research on our wetlands, lakes and rivers. We’ve come to learn that it takes the whole community to sustainably protect our natural resources, not just scientists. So we will figure out ways to get as many Tigoni and Limuru residents on a team that will preserve our resources for generations to come.

One of the fun things about our family is that we also imagine ourselves to be aspiring artists. Makeba and Miki love to sing and dance and sometimes perform “concerts” for us with their own original lyrics! Steve and Sharon have entire boxes of art supplies just waiting to be cracked open. So, how about you dust off your old guitar or watercolor set and come join us making art sometime!

Hello ‘The Witheys’

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In the mid 1920’s two great men chose to come to Kenya to build a life – these are Adam’s grandpa (with the army), and my grandpa, because he’d seen and fallen in love with Kenya from afar … at a farmers fair in North Yorkshire, UK.

Both men had successful, but very different, lives. Adam’s grandparents began and grew Greenacres School, whose story is not that different form that of Woodland Star’s, and my grandfather lived first as a farmer, then as a politician, making his mark as the Minister of Agriculture prior to Kenyan Independence. Adam and I were born to Kenyan parents and had most of our childhood and schooling here before heading to the UK later, where we enjoyed our studies in agriculture and beauty therapy respectively!
Sadly, Adam and I have both lost a parent. My mum died when I was 18, very suddenly, and as she was my rock I chose to stay and work in the UK where she wasn’t ‘supposed’ to be. Africa somehow makes those of us born here breathe, and so something was always missing … but after a few years I had to return! Adam made his life at Greenacres, putting his agricultural college skills to good use, rebuilding the school and upgrading the small farm they had. His dad sadly passed away about ten years ago, which meant the school and farm was sold.
Living here, we all speak Kiswahili and English, and Adam can boast Kikuyu too!!! Currently we have a small foundry called Uhunzi, a brilliant company called Banana Box, which helps over 500 people … and enjoy a spot of singing every now and then! On the other side of the coin, pollution, particularly in the form of plastic and ignorance, are our dislikes of and in the world today!!!
Kenya is our home, but we all like to travel and experience new things, in particular things that are completely converse to what we know and live, e.g. the English Cotswolds, architecture & history of European countries and their culture. We are proud to have made a wonderful home here in Tigoni and consider it a firm and happy foundation for our two boys to have and grow up in!!

Meet Zarina – Our new STEM and Library Teacher

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Zarina graduated from the University of Georgia (USA) with a Masters in Teaching Early Childhood/Elementary Education. She is also certified to teach STEM and Gifted Education. She grew up in Kenya and previously worked as a service manager in an international bank after graduating from  Moi University with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology.

In between academic pursuits, Zarina has also volunteered and taught Math at a Middle school to students who speak English as a second language, as well as taught English to students at a Middle school in Italy. Nothing has challenged her as much as being a teacher. She has always had a passion for working with children and is a proud aunt to 9 nieces and nephews. She is a strong proponent of Reggio Emilia’s Hundred Languages, emphasizing that there are a hundred different ways of thinking, of discovering, and of learning.

Zarina is so excited to be relocating back to Kenya (from the US) to teach and already feels a strong connection to Woodland Star and its unique approach to teaching and learning. She can’t wait to join the WSS family!

Hello Preet – Our new Middle Years Teacher

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Hailing from Brooklyn, Preet has spent 3 years working in higher education at The New School, in New York. She was born in Kenya has lived and worked here in Kenya as well as England and the U.S. She joins Woodland Star as a Middle Years teacher and believes in the success of cross-curricular and theme-based teaching. Preet has a diverse background in media, including documentary film, Travel TV and Radio. She has fulfilled teaching placements in both Primary and Middle Years, teaching Science, Social Studies, plus Media and Literacy. Preet enjoys putting students in the driving seat allowing them to find their voice, release their creativity and realize their individual and collective potential.

Her strength is bringing lessons alive by integrating media and hands-on activities. She regards teaching information literacy as a central facet of today’s wired and information-loaded world. She has an international PGCE from Sunderland, an MA in Media from The New School and a BA in Business from Sheffield. Preet and her two boys are thrilled to be part of the Woodland Star Village and are excited to engage with the nature and the community at the heart of the school, while delving into the rich holistic curriculum.

 

Meet Zarek … Our on-campus Eco-Giant

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My love for my partner, my family, and my friends; my love for nature – specifically spiders, scorpions, butterflies, birds, and native trees; and my love for Kenya, its diverse cultures, its learning opportunities, and its chaos – these are what make me who I am. I’m a bit of a jack of many trades and master of none, but I’m passionate about protecting and experiencing what I love.

You may not know that I am colour-blind in greens and reds – making birding very interesting indeed! I’m ashamed to say I only speak English and Swahili. Despite a number of years of French in school, almost none of it stuck!

Exciting, strange, and inexplicable things happen to me and around me on a weekly basis. That’s part of what I love about living in Kenya. The more you observe what’s going on around you, the more you notice bizarre things! As a safari guide and operations manager for ACTS and Edutours Africa, it pays for me to be observant. I’ve recently begun learning about how to identify and differentiate the 30-some species of scorpions in Kenya. Some of them are easy, while others are extremely difficult to differentiate.

If I had to change one thing about the world we live in, I would want everyone to learn a greater respect for the environments that sustain all life (including ours). Not enough people understand the connection between healthy ecosystems and healthy humans, putting “environmental matters” far down on their priority lists.

Hello Hana & Caroline!

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Here is a brief reflection from two of our stars in the Jackals Village, after a recent trip to Kitengela Glass:

“We learned that at Kitengela Glass they recycle the glass. They melt it in a big heating oven and it was over 100 degrees Celsius! They melt the glass till it becomes like a red and orange gooey lava. Then they put it into little red colored glass particles that stick into the gooey lava. They keep putting it back into the big heating oven and picking up more melted glass till it gets bigger and bigger. Then they take it out and blow into the metal pole that was connected to the unfinished bowl.  Then they put it back into the heating oven and take it out with even more melted glass and blow into it again making it expand more on the inside. After that they spin it around and around. Then they put it back in to the oven and take it out and then they push a hole into it and take a peace of newspaper and roll the bowl on it until it becomes smooth. Then they do the same thing over and over again till the bowl is as big and fat as a jar. Last, but not least, they take the bowl and they test it by putting a newspaper on top of the bowl and suddenly it sets the newspaper on fire! They take out the bowl from the metal pole and put it in the cooling oven, which is actually still pretty hot.

Now at school we are going to use what we learned at Kitengela to create glass wind chimes and other things out of glass.”

– Hana and Caroline

THANK YOU: The beautiful photos are courtesy of Kirill Voloshin – thank you for joining us!

Hello Mr. Tiny Free Library!

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Hello, everyone!

I am Mr. Tiny Free Library, and I’m still pretty young. In fact, I was only born last week!

I live at Woodland Star International School, just above the lower school campus. Sometimes I get quite lonely, because there aren’t many of me around in Nairobi, or in Kenya for that matter. But I am hoping that I will have lots of visitors soon, and that I will make lots of new friends in that way.

My job is to provide free books to read to anyone passing by. If there’s a book they like, I allow them to take it home with them to read, but I always make sure to ask them to bring me back another  book that they like, one that they may have already read. In that way, I constantly have new books going in and out – it’s really quite fun!

If you’re ever in the area, please come around and say ‘hello’! I love seeing new faces and meeting new people, especially if they loooooove books, just like me. And especially if they bring along a book to leave with me!

I hope to meet you soon … until then, happy reading!