Summer Is Here

Has anyone been wondering where I’ve been? I haven’t forgotten about the school! As of late, though, I’ve been pretty busy with some family issues. My uncle, who lives in Chicago, is battling Parkinson’s. My parents and other aunt and uncle decided to have him move to Washington, where I live, so that he can be in an assisted living home near us. It is less expensive here, and my other aunt and uncle who live here have more time to look out for him than my parents do. My job, in this scheme of moving my uncle, was to travel to Chicago, pick up my uncle’s kitten, and bring him home on the plane. (My uncle hates flying, so he and my other aunt are traveling here by train, but the train doesn’t allow pets… and anyways the 3-day journey would have been too much for the kitten!) So now I am staying at my other aunt and uncle’s house, with my dog and cat, plus my aunt and uncle’s dog and cat, plus the new kitten. They are keeping me busy! Especially the kitten! He is a four month old ball of energy! My cat has spent 24/7 following the new kitten around obsessively, and has finally gotten him to play with her.

So, just to reassure you, I haven’t forgotten about the school! I’m still thinking about it, doing reading about it, etc… I just haven’t had as much time for social media!

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Fourth of July tomorrow. I’ll be spending part of it at my friends’ rescue farm chilling with the animals and eating veggie dogs!

Where Will Our School Be?

This would be a really cool house!!!

Probably the biggest challenge I am coming across while working to start a school is figuring out where the school will be. I live in a small apartment, and even if the management company would allow a school to take place in here, there wouldn’t be any room! At first I was imagining renting an office or storefront, but I can see how these places would have their own problems. Then I got the idea that I could rent a 2 story house. I could have a bedroom and living room on the second floor, and the school could take place in the rest of the house. This way, I would be able to pay half of the rent for the house out of my own salary, and use the school’s money to pay for the other half. We’d be able to pay a lot more rent if I was able to contribute my personal rent budget!

As I daydream about the house, I’m trying to think of things that I would love it to have. Here are what I’ve thought of so far…

A library (I already have tons of children’s books from my former classrooms, and books are pretty easy to get more of) where kids could sit and read and also have the opportunity to check out books to take home.

A sensory room/chill room. (This could even be a sectioned off area of another room.)

At least one classroom where organized classes could take place.

A play room where we could set up areas for reading, math, and science exploration. (Similar to how “centers” are set up in a preschool classroom.)

A larger gathering room or hang out room with couches and stuff, like a living room, but where group meetings could also be held.

An office for administrational boring stuff.

A fenced in backyard where we could put a play structure and where the children could have a garden.

It would also have to be in an area that was zoned for a business such as a school or day care.

What else do you think an awesome school should have?

 

A Few Fun Facts About Public Education

Hi everyone! On my timeline of things I need to do in order to make my little school a reality, I am dedicating the summer to researching and reading. I am currently reading School’s Over, by Jerry Mitz. The author is the founder of the Alternative Education Resource Organization. It is a very interesting book. I was reading it last night before bed. When I woke up this morning, I was thinking about two interesting facts I learned about the origins of public education as we know it.

When I was a kid I learned that Horace Mann was the main guy who created the public education system in America. As a kid who hated school, I was always annoyed by the fact that he and I shared the same last name and that he could possibly be related to me!

Did you know that the real reasons that Horace Mann created the public education system was to create obedient, compliant, Republican citizens?

Did you know why we have bells in schools? It is because during the industrial revolution, most children were expected to grow up and work in factories. Factories used whistles to tell workers what to do and when. Therefore, having bells in schools would train children to get up and move when they heard a sound. Now, even though there are many other job opportunities besides factories, school children are still trained to get up and move when they hear a bell.

What do you think of that?

Q and A for Parents of Kids With Special Needs

Right now my little school is still in the beginning planning stages, but I like to do a lot of my planning in writing. Today I wrote these Q and A that would be geared towards parents of children with special needs who might want to join our school. At some point when the school is ready to go I will add these to the school’s actual website. (Right now I do have a PLANNING website here: emaze.me/somedayschool.

Q. My child has special needs. Will he be qualify for your school?
A. The decision about whether our school is a good fit for any child, with or without special needs, will be made by the student, his family, and school staff as a team.
 

Q. Will my child have an IEP at your school? 

A. Students don’t necessarily need IEPs at this school, because they are allowed to learn at their own rate and in their own style. IEPs in public schools are meant to make sure that students with special needs have accommodations and modifications so that they can access the curriculum that is being provided to everyone, or so that they can be given specially designed instruction. But at our school, each student’s curriculum is tailored just for them, by them. However, if your student is coming from a public school and already has an IEP, we will be glad to meet with you and go over it.
Q. Your school does not seem very structured. What about students with autism spectrum disorders who need structure?
A. Part of helping a student to become independent will involve helping him structure his own day. We will not have a pre-determined schedule that we will make your child follow. However, with the help of his family and the staff at the school, a student who needs that structure can set up his own daily schedule. We can even help create a visual schedule and other visual reminders that he may need. 
 
 
 
Q. How will you make sure that my student is doing his work?
A. In some public schools, staff will go so far as to place students in chairs with trays so that they cannot stand up to leave, or use their bodies or furniture to block them into a certain area while they work, or withhold preferred activities or snacks until the work is done. We will not do that. What we will do is provide opportunities for structured learning as well as opportunities for self-directed learning. We’ll help them to follow their interests and curiosities. But we will not force them to learn or to do certain activities.
Q. When my child was in a public school he had a 1:1 aide with him throughout his day. Will he have a 1:1 aide with him at your school?
A. We are an extremely small school and don’t have the funds to pay a staff member to work 1:1 with a student throughout the day. However, we want children to have the opportunity to be part of our school if at all possible. We’d invite you to attend with your child for a few sample days to see how he functions in our school. If you and/or we think your child would need a 1:1 adult with him for safety reasons, we can look into finding a solution. Some possibilities would be helping you hire someone to attend with your student, or looking for a volunteer staff member who would work with your student full time.
Q. My child has had behavioral issues in school. Will he still qualify for your school?
A. Again, there is nothing that would automatically “disqualify” a child from our school. We would meet with the potential student and his family to talk about the school and whether it would fit his needs. Some behaviors that are seen as negative in a traditional school are acceptable at our school. For instance, if a child refuses to do his work, or has difficulty staying in his seat, or is very active, he can be seen as having behavior problems in a traditional school. In our school, these things are okay, and so he would not be seen as having behavioral problems. Also, some students develop behavior problems because they are frustrated at being forced to do certain things. At our school students don’t have to worry about entering control battles with adults. Our main rules are keeping ourselves and others safe, and being kind and respectful.

 

My First Post

This is my first blog entry. I just went through my monthly budget and determined that I could afford the membership fee right now. I am in the very beginning process of starting a school. So early in the process, it doesn’t even have a name yet!

Here’s what I do have:

  • A year off from teaching (I’ll either be an ed tech in the classroom I’ve been teaching this school year, or get another job) so that I can concentrate on working on starting the school.
  • A lot of ideas, passion, and excitement about the future possibilities.
  • 9 people who have “liked” the Facebook page I made.
  • Emails with advice from a lot of people around the country who are currently running their own similar schools.
  • The requirements for starting a private school in my state.
  • A timeline for what needs to be done in order to start a school.

Here is what I do not have:

  • A location (I live in a small apartment so I can’t exactly run a school in there!)
  • Money
  • A spouse or significant other who would support me financially while I get the school up and running.

I have to somehow come up with starting funds, and I have to somehow have a way to get it running quickly so that I will at least be able to pay myself a living wage so that I don’t have to live in my car.

I would love to hear from anyone who has experience funding the start up of a school!

Thanks… I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can.