The Best School Ever

Today we went to look into the local school for Micah.

MmmmHmmm. Yes, you read that right: school for Micah.

We were chancing on being The Worst Parents On Earth, enrolling him in school for the very first time ever in APRIL of the school year ending mid-June. I could just see him lying on the therapist’s couch in the future all, “YEAH, they had me start kindergarten in APRIL….”

So…… we were going to dip our foot in the water, see if he liked it – if he did, we’d try it out, if he didn’t, we wouldn’t make him go, totally up to him. This is all about what he wants, because we trust him to know what’s best for himself in this. He can decide.

My mom was visiting so she drove us to the school, which is about 10 winding, country one-lane miles away from us. We aren’t able to take Myrtle (our F350) because I am scared terrified to drive her on these roads (- something about not being able to see the road from the steering wheel, and the road being on steep switchbacks over long drops does that to me).

And where were we here? Right. I was telling you that we were headed to the school to check it out.

We drove around the school – it’s tiny! – past the high school greenhouses and little buildings, parked, and started to look for where we should be. Moxie saw the playground and went nuts trying to get to it, signing “play! Play!”- we kept a firm grip on her. MacQuinn was simply round eyed. Micah looked kind of hungry.

We found the principle, who also teaches high school, a pretty awesome looking lady with white hair and sensible glasses. Earth brand shoes 🙂 Super laid back vibe around her. She took us over to the class that would be Micah’s, but she kept on talking about a class for Moxie as well, the preschool which was the room next to Micah’s. I wasn’t particularly interested in putting Moxie in school, but she did keep talking about it and mentioned meeting the teacher and so forth.

We went into Micah’s room and, oh man…. those kids! There are under 10 students, mixed grades – kindergarten through 2nd grade. It seemed like everyone was missing teeth. They were so excited to meet our boy, welcoming him with “yay!” and big bright smiles. Happy questions and chatter.

The teacher looked like someone I’d like to be friends with. She had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen and was relaxed, friendly, professional. I immediately warmed to her.

…. and it was kind of surreal. I told her we have been traveling for half the year and will leave in September to travel again, “no problem,” she said, whipping out a curriculum from the closet, “this is our homeschooling curriculum – you can just follow this and stay in touch and come back to school when you can.”

gulp. Okay.

The class was an outstanding mix of the high and low tech: I saw new looking computers with apps that we use on our ipads with barrels of beautiful books, arts and crafts materials, maps and more. I was thrilled.

We went outside for recess, the kids were catching a frog – for real! like who actually catches frogs in school anymore?! -, we went through the school, the kids have a garden, they learn to grow food, she said the preschool does too, they have a gorgeous space just for them, then she told me something about the preschool:

The preschool teacher concentrated in Special Education. I told her that I’m deaf and that Moxie has Down syndrome and she smiled and said that the school custodian has Down syndrome, he went through the whole school system right there and he comes into both Moxie and Micah’s class to teach ASL.

I couldn’t believe it.

Just then the preschool teacher came up with the class, introductions were made and I asked her about her concentration and she said yes, she majored in Special Education and she practices Horse Therapy too… only she doesn’t have any clients…. I said, “you do now” and then bust into tears, those big, fat happy, embarrassing tears of just, it’s just too much, you guys are so perfect and how can this happen in this crazy, magnificent world? How do we come on a school so tailor-made for us, utterly fitting in every regard for me, for my kids, for our family, for all of us, how does this happen, after we give up everything and leave and travel and then decide to be responsible and come back to work? And how is it that the best stuff is supposed to be in the city, in Berkeley, in San Francisco, in these places of ivory-tower-intellect and yet it’s NOT, it’s in the isolated rural areas like the Lost Coast in which the thrilling education is really taking place?

I cried.

As I wiped my tears, the teacher was calling to Moxie who was watching the preschool class from the safety of her slide. They were all on the round circle thing you spin (I don’t know the name for it?) and she invited Moxie to come. After some hesitation, Moxie came, clambered up, they started spinning, Moxie wanted to push it, they stopped for her and Moxie got off and helped push. The kids were looking at her and she was looking at them and I’ve never seen my girl so interested in other kids, other kids so obviously interested in her.

It felt right.

A few more tears may have slipped out.

In a nutshell:

  • Micah can start school whenever we get our transport arranged
  • Moxie can too – IEP’s weren’t mentioned at all – if we need an aid, they said, they’ll get an aid, they know all about this, it’s not a big deal. Nothing is a big deal. They are just happy to have her
  • I can be there all day if I want, it’s an open-door policy for parents, and I can bring MacQuinn too
  • The entire school is probably 50 kids?
  • It’s all mixed level rooms
  • The older kids all read to the younger kids and interact with them. So the high school kids read to Micah’s class, Micah’s class reads to Moxie’s.
  • There is even some ethnic diversity there
  • The kids bike and garden!
  • The community is integrated with the school: they have car building and racing, egg hunts, etc. It’s kind of the way I think America was once, before towns exploded and people got nuts with suing and insurance and bullshit.

 

Both Micah and Moxie wll be attending now – we’ll be there as soon as we get a smaller truck or car to drive there.

Which can’t really be soon enough in my book.

 

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
This is a really fantastic idea and tutorial - book mark it! https://t.co/DRNLLzzQpi - 17 hours ago
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12 Comments

  • Gosh, it’s late and I need to go to bed but just had to write and say how wonderful you’re post made me feel…and I am thousands of miles from you! As a teacher in a school where diversity is celebrated and it feels like ‘home’ each day I go there, I am so thrilled you have found a little slice of heaven for Micah and Moxie. Our children are 24 and 27 and still miss their days at primary school (the same school I teach at) as it was and still is, such a lovely, caring place. For the past few years I have been going for a day or two, to a 20 student school in our wheatbelt, to teach art and feel honoured each time I get to share in the vibe that surrounds this tiny, isolated school and community. Sometimes in life, you just have to go with what you feel is right (your trip) and you end up in the right place by chance (or is it chance)?! Can’t wait for the next instalment Meriah. Happy days to you all! x

  • Oh this sounds so Perfect! Isn’t it amazing, how the luck finds you when you don’t expect it? Aila always loved to be with other kids and Even today it is her greatest Joy to be with her friends. 🙂

  • I want to come to school there too. I am so deep in IEP and all of this crap. I just want to live on a farm somewhere. You blog never ceases to make me smile. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    • big love, Beth – I honestly couldn’t handle the IEP crap, which is why I was just planning on homeschooling… my heart hurts for you – I hope it goes as easily as it can – xoxo (and if it doesn’t, move here!!)

  • Round circle thing = merry-go-round – an awesome piece of playground equipment that is almost extinct because people worried about lawsuits think it’s too dangerous. This place sounds too good to be true – how will you ever leave?

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