We had a couple of unexpected encounters the other day at Jubilee Academy. We discovered two turtles and a couple of interesting insects. We studied them for awhile and then wrote about and drew pictures of them. I love teaching at Jubilee Academy for many reasons. A couple of those reasons are its natural setting and the flexibility I have to change my plans when an opportunity like this arises.
Jubilee Academy is unique in several ways:
1. We aren’t slaves to state standards or federal laws, so we can adapt our plans as needed. Of course, we make sure our changes are beneficial and educational.
2. We are a one-room schoolhouse, which is unusual. In fact, I don’t know of any other schools that try to educate such a wide range of ages all together. While this model has it’s challenges, it also provides more of a real-world atmosphere and leadership opportunities within the classroom.
3. We have a high ratio of special needs students, but we also have typical students. Our students with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and English as a Second Language issues are not bullied or looked down upon. They are considered regular students in our classroom.
4. God has been involved in our school from the beginning and throughout every step of the journey. He has provided in so many ways and has clearly brought our community of learners together. As long as we honor Him, I trust Him to continue to provide, protect, and guide.
As I reflect on the past week and a half, I continue to be grateful for God’s goodness. He placed a vision in my heart for a school like no other in our community, and He is bringing it to pass. On several occasions, I have been teaching and suddenly experienced amazement that I am really running my dream school! Now I’m not trying to say that it’s a perfect school, because that’s not possible. And I’m not telling you that I am the best teacher or administrator that ever was, because I’m certainly not. I’m not even saying I have the perfect group of kids to teach. What I am saying is this: God blessed me with a vision and He brought together a group of students and faculty to carry out that vision. I just don’t think it gets any better than that!
Over the past eight days, we have spent the majority of the time getting to know each other and communicating expectations. We haven’t delved into heavy academics yet, because it’s more important at this point to set the tone for the school year. Establishing a learning climate is essential to good learning, so we are making an investment that will pay off.
Our Monday and Wednesday students have begun to write autobiographies, and they will share those this week. They have participated in a number of activities to get to know each other’s names and interests. They have begun to consider place value, which is of high importance to mathematical understanding. And we have begun reading, writing, and math assessments. The results will determine groupings and instructional needs for the year.
Our full-time students have created earthworm habitats, gone on the first nature walk of the year, studied ecosystems, observed an ecosystem on our grounds, and begun to learn how to do center work in math and literacy. In art, they made crosses by learning paper-folding techniques. In music, they practiced rhythms.
In the coming weeks, I anticipate students catching on to our routines and expectations, and I believe we will become an increasingly cohesive group. I am excited to see what God will continue to do in our lives as we continue to submit to His guidance.