Reflections before the start of school from the school director

As I reflect on the opening of the IDEA School tomorrow, many emotions fill my heart.

First, I am grateful. We would not have reached this day were it not for the vision and passion of Jaime Johnson, our Co-Founder and Lead Collaborator, who knew in her heart that this kind of education was not only necessary, but possible.

Jaime drew from her own experience of teaching in both public and private schools, and of becoming a mom, to paint a compelling picture of what school could be, and why doing things differently mattered so much.  Jaime knew where to look for inspiration and how to integrate these rich and diverse influences into one coherent vision. I am happy to say that as we prepare to open our doors, we have stayed true to this vision.

I also think about the state of education in Arizona, and the United States, today. With public schools being forced to focus more and more attention on standardized test scores, and the letter-grading of each and every public school by the State, largely based on these scores, being fodder for the front page, evening news, drive-time radio, and the editorial pages — to say nothing of the internet — I wonder how much longer before good teachers and principals, having devoted their professional lives to the intellectual and emotional growth of children but finding themselves less and less able to act upon their convictions or do what’s best for kids in their own classrooms and school buildings, simply decide to leave. Many already have. And our children are the ones who suffer.

The fact that we have decided as a community to cede control of our local schools — of our children’s learning — to politicians and bureaucrats, far removed from the consequences of their decisions and in most cases never having worked in a classroom or a school themselves, is a travesty and one we must address.

We must all work to re-instill trust in our teachers and principals — trust in ourselves! — to make the best decisions for our children’s learning.  And we must trust children, as the ones for whom the learning matters most, to help guide and assess the effectiveness of our schools.

Here’s to a great year!


More Gratitude:

We are grateful for our founding Board members Mellow Dawn Lund and Robert Ojeda, who have devoted their time, energy, creativity and passion to the creation of the IDEA School since before it even had a name.  In those early brainstorming sessions, beginning more than two years ago, we also benefitted greatly from the wisdom and creativity of Emily McCrea, Shefali Milczarek-Desai, Andrea Lauritzen, Ivan McCrea, Emily Smit, Jesse Evans-Schroeder, Clay Forrey, Thoger Lund, Sara Johnson, Marilyn Higuera, Jean Schroeder, Gever Tulley and others.

We are grateful for all the people who joined our mission over the past year and added their passions, insights and incredible talents to the mix: Pauline, Nicolle and David, Fernanda, Maggie and John, Natalie, Mark, Sylvia, Jennifer, Eric, Pam, Bill, Anne-Marie, Anita, Allyson, Christine, Jennifer, Jacquelyn, Brian and Michelle, Michael, Maya, Jim, Greg, Jen, Kevin and Anna, Nathalie and Clint, Amy, Brandon, Rev. Kate, Eve, Carrie, Tony, Rev. Anne, David and Lauren, Vivian, Laura, Elliott, Emma, Stephanie, Jenny, Lynda, Eliana, Sherry, Stephen, Gregory, Cathy, Jasmine, Lori, Chad, Leilan, Jen, Paul, Leah, Megan, Claudia, Dawn and Chris, Shannon and Scott, Rebecca, Morgan, Marianna, Alan, Robert, Dave, Ellie, Donna, Vera, Sarah, Jaime G, Bruce and so many others!

We are grateful for our Founding Collaborators, for sharing their talents, skills and passions with us and taking on the shaping of the IDEA School as we mature and grow: Shana Cinquemani, Quiahuitl Villegas, and Erin Recuparo.

And we are grateful, most importantly, to the families and children who have decided to make the IDEA School your educational home. In a world with lots of options, and often conflicting information about what’s important or what works in education, we appreciate your trust, support, and participation as we build an extraordinary school together.

Let’s do this!