October 2016 Newsletter

By October 30, 2016Newsletters

While we can’t believe that it’s already been a little over a month since school started, we’re confident that this has been an incredible start to the school year. New students, staff, and families in our community have added a vibrancy that we couldn’t imagine ourselves without. As we plunge into the rest of this year, we feel a connectedness and unity that continue to motivate us towards excellence. We celebrate the gifts that each and every member brings to our community!

Immersion in Nature: Effects on Goal Setting

At Woodland Star, we are so proud of the green initiatives that we have been taking this year, including the creation of two nature classrooms. These outdoor learning environments have already generated wide-scale unity within the school body during our Wild Wednesday Assemblies, and facilitate productive class time in nature.

Already benefitting from the effects of nature classrooms, we happened upon some interesting research that could help explain their positivity.

A series of studies conducted by the University of Rochester have concluded that immersion in nature increases levels of individual intrinsic aspiration while decreasing levels of extrinsic aspiration, producing individual and community- positive patterns of decision-making. Intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations highly influence life aspirations, or “value-laden goals.”

Intrinsic aspirations are associated with setting and achieving goals critical to personal well-being, in contrast to extrinsic aspirations, which have been linked to low vitality, depression, and physical weakness. Two intrinsic aspirations, relationship and community aspirations, create a mindset that implements goals of establishing deep relationships and benefiting others. Intrinsic aspirations encourage autonomy, generosity, and connection. On the other hand, two extrinsic aspirations, fame and wealth, develop subjective mindsets relying on the approval of others and the value of material gain, discouraging autonomy, generosity, and connection.

The research from these case studies also suggest that higher levels of immersion into nature result in more nature-relatedness, therefore increasing intrinsic aspirations. The more senses that participants were able to immerse in nature, the more focused they became on relational values. On a decision-making level, participants who were more immersed in nature became more generous than those who were not.

We love our nature classrooms, and now we have more all the more reason to continue enjoying them.
The full article can be found at http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2009_WeinsteinPrzybylskiRyan_Nature.pdf.

Peace Curriculum

Our Peace Heroes curriculum is another facet of our education that we celebrate. This innovative curriculum was created by Elie Pritz, a writer who grew up in Jerusalem. Much like many of the children at Woodland Star, Elie was a “third-culture child,” meaning that the culture she was raised in was different from those of her parents’ home countries. Using her gifts in creative writing, Elie developed the Peace Heroes curriculum. First implemented in the Jerusalem School, East Jerusalem, Peace Heroes is now piloted in a handful of schools in Palestine, Israel, and Kenya.

Peace Heroes is structured around geographical locations and the “heroes” from each region who stood for peaceful change, such as Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Malala Yousefzai in Pakistan, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. The curriculum uses these historical figures as a lens for studying the geography, history, and culture of a region, then goes into depth about each hero. The ultimate purpose of the curriculum is to communicate the message “peace begins with me.”

A Student’s Voice on Peace

When asked what peace is during a Friday class of Peace Heroes, one of our own students, Raquel, stated that it is “a dark night with stars.”

Raquel’s answer was so profound that Elie Pritz, the writer of our Peace Curriculum, wrote a response to Raquel’s words. This is the link to the full article: http://www.paxology.org/points-of-light/.

We celebrate you Raquel, and all of our students’ voices!

Themes: Connectedness and Seeds

The themes for Term One are “Connectedness” and “Seeds.” These themes provide an anchor for studies such as multiplication, division, and DNA. “Connectedness” explores how life is related, examining connections across our ecosystems and cultures, and transitioning into the theme of “Seeds.” “Seeds” underlies the idea of replication, even on a personal level, with phrases such as “peace begins with me” and the concept that, with a growth mindset, we all have innate passions and abilities that can be actualized. These themes reinforce Woodland Star’s emphasis on identity, autonomy, and self-expression as children blossom into diverse and unique versions of themselves.

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival is coming soon! On October 29, Brackenhurst will host a festival with vendors selling artisan products, fresh produce, hayrides, orange pumpkins, and live music.

Simultaneously, Woodland Star School will be holding an Open House. Harvest Festival is a great opportunity for our community to come together while discovering local commodities, enjoying live music, and feasting on good food. If you know of anyone interested in Woodland Star, this is also an opportune moment to introduce them to the school!

Parent Handbook

By Term Two, we will have a comprehensive handbook designed for Woodland Star parents. It will cover topics ranging from our policies concerning mental health to further details about our lunch menu. While we are busy at work on this handbook, we hope that our Parent Overview will provide a decent substitute for the time being. We trust that our handbook will further strengthen an already a vibrant and connected community!

Social Media Usage

As we begin to expand our online presence, we are glad to have our Child Protection Policy in place and for your responses in the use of photographs of your child. We would love parent feedback on how we could best communicate with social media. Please email hello@woodlandstarkenya.com or merekelvie@gmail.com for suggestions, or message us on Facebook.

Scholarship Program

At Woodland Star School, we like to include as many individuals as possible in our village. We realize that, in the context of private education in a developing country, there is an economic barrier for some potential students to study at our school. As a result, we have decided to introduce a scholarship program at Woodland Star School, compromised of donations by our village. We believe in this community; without it, we would not exist. Now, we believe that we can go a step further in funding the education of some of the children already at our school, and welcoming new ones in. Our school is about so much more than sitting in a classroom day in and day out; it is about acceptance, inclusion, and affecting positive change.

If you are able and would like to contribute to our scholarship funds, please contact hello@woodlandstarkenya.com for further details or questions.

We are so grateful for the diversity, excellence, and connectedness here at Woodland Star School. Thank you for all you do to be a part of our village. Muraho – we celebrate your presence!

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