Greetings from the blossoming gardens, fields, and forest of Lakeside School! This spring we have seen every variety of weather that spring in the North Country brings – from hail storms, to thunderstorms, from clear blue skies, to brilliant sunny days. The children seem to go through similar rhythms, and the darkness of a thunderstorm seems to proceed major growth and transformation in the children as much as it does in the gardens.
Lakeside School has had a major expansion and transformation each year since its conception. It’s like those early months and years with little ones, where a day or a week shows so much change that it makes the child almost unrecognizable from their former self. From the first planting of the seed of an idea of a school in Libby McDonald’s living room with a handful of enthusiastic parents with their toddlers in tow, to a fully licensed Day Care facility, to a state recognized school, Lakeside continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of young families in the Champlain and High Peaks regions of northern New York.
From that handful of toddlers, Lakeside now serves over twenty-five children from birth to age eight and their families. Our vision of being a birth through Grade 3 center on working farm is coming to fruition. Next school year we will add a program for children age 1 & 2 called “Sprouts.” We are excited to announce that Emily Schmitt will be leading the Sprouts program here at Lakeside. Due to parents’ requests, we are also adding an extended day, so that all children can stay on the farm until 5:00pm if needed. We look forward to working with Julie Warren from Keene Valley on developing the extended day program. There is also an expansion of the elementary school to include a 2nd Grade. This will be a unique model of a one room elementary school with the 1st and 2nd graders learning side by side. We are pleased that Kelly McQuade will be coming to Lakeside from her work in a Waldorf Inspired school in Montana to lead the 1st and 2nd graders and develop the Elementary Program. I will also be teaching blocks in the elementary school so that sometimes the children are studying together and sometimes they have their lessons separately. Of course, the stellar mixed-age kindergarten (age 3-6 years) and the Mt. Tots (parents & caregivers with their birth – 3 year children) will continue to flourish and support children and families in those tender first years.
As the end of the year approaches, we say good-bye to Kristin Fiegl and thank her for her years of dedication to Lakeside and working with the young children. We also say good-bye to Mrs. Brennan and wish the two of them the best in the work they choose to take up in the future.
The Farm Educator program will carry on, with all children participating in the farming and animal husbandry work here at Black Kettle Farm. I heard the 1st graders out yesterday weeding the vegetable gardens saying, “We weeded 4 beds, can we please do another?” Their enthusiasm for working in the gardens and with the chickens, rabbits, and goats is infectious. The handwork, French, music, art, and movement (gym) programs will also continue giving the elementary children a chance to knit (and pearl), speak French, move, draw, paint, sing, and play the flute on a regular basis, in addition to engage in their main academic work.
The after-school arts enrichment-intensives for public and home school children will continue to be offered here at Lakeside. There are currently limited openings in all programs. If you are interested in more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are grateful to the Eddy Foundation for the lease of the 213-acres of farm and forest land that is the home of Lakeside School and to the many parents, board members and community members who step forward to take leadership roles and volunteer their time and talents to keep this school a vital part of the community.
We look forward to seeing you at one of our community events this summer (Barn Dance this Saturday, June 8th and Ice Cream Social next Sunday, June 16th). And who knows, maybe your children and family will get to taste the magic of Lakeside!
With deep gratitude,
From the Board President
The arrival of spring brings new and exciting changes to Lakeside. After seven years on the Lakeside Board, I will be resigning as the Board President effective June 15th. This is a bittersweet move for me but I know that it is the right one on many levels, both for me, and for Lakeside. I will remain on the board as Treasurer during the transition time while current board member and Lakeside parent, Stites McDaniel, takes over as Board President.
This really is an exciting and pioneering time for Lakeside. With new classes, new faculty, a growing board, the ever-evolving possibilities of the space at Black Kettle Farm, and a group of committed families and community members, Lakeside has so much to look forward to! We are so grateful that Stites will be leading our board into this next level of growth. He comes to us with experience as a teacher, camp director and parent – having worked with non-profits, public schools, and families. We are looking forward to the possibilities!
My time at Lakeside has been, and will continue to be, one of the most significant and meaningful periods of my life. In helping to build our school, I have gained knowledge about non-profits, education, leadership, collaboration, fundraising, and so much more. More importantly, I have come to know an amazing community of people, a community I feel grateful to be part of. My journey with Lakeside has been a time of personal development as well – I have learned a lot about myself while working alongside some of the people that I respect the most in the world. Thank you all– parents, children, faculty, staff, board members, and the greater community– for the opportunity. What a journey– I don’t know how it could have been any better!
Cena Shaw, President of Board of Trustees
May Day Celebration
Tirra-lirra-lirra in the spring,
Orioles and robins sweetly sing,
From the leafy branches we can hear
– Traditional May Day song
One Friday in May the whole school house was turned upside down for an appreciation brunch for parents, grandparents, and special friends of Lakeside School. Parents fired up the stoves and cooked very local eggs, asparagus, sausage and pancakes with Lakeside’s own maple syrup. The first grade set up their classroom as a dining hall and served food to our company. Before eating, the guests were treated to a song and poem performed by the first grade. A hearty brunch and good conversation was had by all.
After brunch, grandparents and special friends joined the kindergarteners and first graders in weaving willow branches into crowns. Once everyone was adorned, three older home school students serenaded everyone with three-part harmonies on their recorders. The children then danced and sang as they skipped around the May Pole. Wind wands were passed out to the smaller children as the home school girls played their fiddle music. The first grade capped off the day by weaving the ribbons round the May Pole. The weaving was left up for all to see.
A beautiful day to celebrate with our community here at Lakeside.
– Kathleen Morse, Office Administrator
Planting Seeds in the Kindergarten
In the fall, the children dug small holes in our rock-encircled garden and placed teardrop bulbs one by one in those dimples in the ground. Some of the children already knew the secret behind making these bulb beds, covering them over with a soil blanket which soon would be layered with dead leaves and inches of snow. Other children were just immersed in the digging and only experienced that present moment. There is a certain amount of faith and trust that accompanies this activity of planting. Will the bulbs be eaten by the many squirrels about the play yard? Did we plant them deep enough or too deep? Is the soil rich enough to give these tiny bulbs nutrients? Are they too close to one another? What flower will emerge? An incredible miracle appeared in our garden last week, as if by magic, answering all the questions and affirming the trust and faith in the original intention of planting a Spring Garden.
This is a metaphor for our work in the Kindergarten at Lakeside. We plant seeds for the children, providing strong rhythms, and offering activities to strengthen their will. We nurture and provide nourishment with warmth, protecting and challenging them, like the bulbs in the garden. Most importantly we have faith and trust that the class and each individual child’s destiny will unfold in its own beautiful and unique way. This is not a small task. The patience and confidence in this natural process can be difficult to trust. It is tempting to jump ahead to know if some of the deep freezes have stunted the growth, or questioning if the soil is rich enough to support growth. We often want to dig up the bulb and check to see if the small sprout will come forth and check on its progress. Ultimately we know that by uncovering and inspecting before it is ready may actually do more harm than good.
Now we too have the evidence before us.The splendor of the blossoming of the children at this time of year is as glorious as the Spring Garden. Each child is finding her way through trials and triumphs to express herself in her own true nature! It is a great honor to support and guide this unfolding of each and every one. The class too has reached its potential! The children have incredible empathy and collaborative abilities, as beautiful and harmonious as the colorful flowers in the garden.
Robin Gucker, Kindergarten Teacher
The view from my window in April showed growing patches of mud and shrinking patches of snow. A sure signal of sugaring season!
When Robin gathered the tapping materials together, I was sure to tag along with the children. With a poem of gratitude for the tree the hand drill came out and children began drilling into the sugar maple. Each child took up the task of
turning the hand drill with a mixture of delight and determination on their face. One of the children went to get the next piece (a spile, as she informed me). The spile, or spout, was tap, tap, tapped into the hole with a hammer and sweet sap began drip, drip, dripping into the bucket. But first, little fingers tasted this slightly sweet liquid dripping from the tree. As we went off through the meadow to find other sugar maples, I was impressed at how the children knew just which trees they had chosen that were sugar maples. All the while they were singing sugaring songs. A feast for the senses.
The collection of sap sat on the top of the wood stove boiling away, and soon after a good old pancake breakfast cooked on the wood-stove with fresh syrup, a gift from the maple trees, was eagerly shared by all.
Kathleen Morse, Office Administrator
View from the Trail
“Wait at the cat’s paw!” This is a call that Gregg VanDeusen and I hear often when out on walks with the nursery children. Over the past three weeks, we have spent our Tuesday mornings completely outside, walking the CATS trails, in particular the Nature Trail Loop. It’s been a great time to be on the nature trail, looking for signs of spring, and watching the progress of the installation of the new signs the CATS folks are putting up.
Each week, we have watched the children’s confidence and comfort levels grow. Their steps are more sure, they take greater risks (although not without some bumps and scrapes). They’ve learned the snack routine—muffins, apples, and “nick-a-nacks” (the almonds Gregg pulls out near the end of the trip). They know how to look out for themselves and for each other. They have learned how to make do with no toilet nearby. (I do believe this is a real “skill”. I spent lots of time outside as a child, and when I went to college, I meant people who were intimidated by the prospect of being out in the woods for too long, lest they be too far from a toilet. We North Country people need to pride ourselves on this ability, even if it’s a skill we keep to ourselves.)
The children delight in returning to familiar places—Grandfather Tree (who now has a partner, Grandmother Tree, which the children discovered and named on a section of trail they hadn’t been on until a few weeks ago); the look-out—“Look out here, you can see the whole world,” Gregg says; the “root” bridge, that they all can now successfully navigate without too many wet feet. Returning to the same place often triggers a memory from the week before. One week we found an eft by a stump; the next week the children expected to see it again. Another time, I pointed out some moss that my family calls “reindeer moss”, and told the children we left it out on Christmas Eve for the reindeer when I was a child. One of the children asked the next week: “Is that what you used to feed the reindeer?”
They are more aware of each other, needing fewer reminders to wait for each other, and offering assistance to friends without prompts from Gregg and me. They are caring for their water bottles, helping us pack them up, learning what kinds of things go in a backpack. (And sometimes misplacing their own backpack, only to find it was on their back the whole time!) All of this is done not through overt teaching, but through the children participating together with us, allowing them the opportunity to assist and observe.
How far they have come since the fall, when we spent one morning on this loop. That was a long morning, and a real stretch for all of them! Now, we can take our time along the way, which allows us teachers more time to observe them and delight in their growth. Being with the young children allows us adults to be in the moment. This opportunity to be here, now, is both a great gift and a great challenge.
It’s no secret to those of us who live here that there are many benefits to children being out in nature, benefits to all of us, in fact. How lucky we all are to experience them first-hand, on a regular basis, at Lakeside.
Kristin Fiegl, Nursery Teacher
The Adventure of Red Tail Brothers and Friends
The First Grade Class is made up of a group of children whose spirits live the woods and whose souls are deeply connected to all creatures great and small. It is a tradition in most Waldorf Schools for the elementary school children to end the year together with the performance of a play, however, due to the size of our class this year we chose to author our own story. Based on the children’s love of exploration and adventure, we took to the woods to write our own nature story. The children wholeheartedly participated in the work of creating a story that they all love. It was a collaborative effort that included patience with one another, a respect for each other’s ideas and a realization that this experience was unique.
I have observed that the children are very impressed by what the whole class was able to accomplish together. The first graders will be presenting their story this week to their parents during a morning of sharing the “wonders” of their first grade year.
Mrs. Brennan – 1st Grade Teacher
THE ADVENTURES OF THE RED TAIL BROTHERS AND FRIENDS
Written by Lakeside’s First Grade Class.
One foggy morning, towards the end of March, two Red Tail Hawk brothers awoke in their nest as the sun was rising, with feelings of hunger in their tummies.
The Red Tail brothers saw their friends, Barred Owl and Osprey, flying by their nest on their way to hunt for their morning snack. The brothers caught their attention by “screeching loudly.” They asked their friends to bring them back some tasty fish from the pond.
Owl and Osprey happened to meet their friends, King Fisher and Loon, who were also fishing in the pond for their morning snack. King Fisher and Loon invited Owl, Osprey and the Red Tail brothers to a May Day festival that evening.
When the Red Tail brothers learned of the festival, they were so excited that they tumbled right out of their nest into a patch of wild strawberries! They wove together a basket of straw and feathers and began to gather lots of strawberries for the evening celebration.
The Red Tail brothers stumbled upon their friend Woolly Bear crawling on the strawberry plants and nibbling through the new green leaves. They invited her to join them that evening. Woolly Bear asked if she could bring her new friend Earthworm. News spread throughout the forest as Earthworm told Red Fox, and Red Fox told Cottontail Rabbit, and Rabbit told Squirrel, and Squirrel told Chipmunk and Chipmunk told the Mouse and the Mouse told LILY!!!!!!!
-AND THAT WAS THAT-
SNICKLE SNACKLE SHOUT! OUR FIRST GRADE TALE HAS BEEN TOLD OUT!
The First Graders have had a tremendous year in French class, from the first day, when we climbed an apple tree and learned the words for “green” and “caterpillar”, to this past week in the sand box when they described to me in French the heavy wet mud they had created with water, buckets and a bit of digging. They’ve absorbed sounds, words, games, poems and songs about colors, numbers, seasons, body parts and feelings. Often, I hear them humming or chanting French verses or p
hrases to themselves or to each other. A few francophone customs have become second nature: saying goodbye to Mademoiselle Racey each day with a focused, respectful handshake and audible au revoir, and the rhythm of the talking drums echoing the creative genius of each child’s expression. French class has also been a time to reinforce their Main Lesson as we cover the mechanics and sensation of writing letters and counting by multiples.
I, in turn, have learned beaucoup about how children learn – how they enjoy and latch onto the experiential part of vocalizing a language you don’t understand. They are not afraid of the unknowns or differences French has from English; they charge ahead and have faith that understanding will come with the effort of learning. Ahh, how I can learn from
that! Thank you, First Graders!
Mademoiselle Racey – Elementary School French teacher
View from the Office Window – Whole Systems Thinking
The theme for this week came to me not while sitting in my office, but rather while preparing breakfast yesterday morning. The phrase that popped into my head was “Whole Systems Thinking.” This is a topic that I often muse about to try to put into practice as I venture to live an integrated life.
“Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things, regarded as systems, influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish.”
Here at Lakeside, one example of whole systems thinking happened in the fall of 2011. Those living in the Adirondacks and Champlain Valley won’t forget when Hurricane Irene swept through the region. In the strong wind gusts of Irene, the large walnut tree in the play yard came crashing down. Now one could think, “Oh no, what a tragedy.” Rather, the students, faculty, and community of Lakeside took another spin. They came out in full force for a workday and sawed up stumps for the play yard, then hauled in a sawmill that a parent owns and milled planks, cut shingles, and cut firewood. From this fallen hero in the play-yard, the community built a tree-house. The children knew this walnut tree intimately from playing around its base, from using the walnut nuts as pretend food or balls or money for the store. They knew that the squirrels especially love the walnut nuts and would often see them on the fence or squirreling away nuts for the winter. The children now know where boards that build houses come from. And they know the enduring spirit of their community and dedication to their school. The children don’t know these things because someone said: “Now children, boards are made out of trees”. For a young child, this is an abstraction that can build mental pictures for the child that become fixed as “this is how the world works” and no other way is possible. Rather, the children at Lakeside know from experience, that from the fallen walnut, the boards for the tree house were hewn and transformed into this tree-house where they play and have rest time. Today this tree-house happened to be a pirate ship!
Another example of this experience of whole systems thinking at Lakeside School happens every Thursday at snack during Egg & Sausage day. The early childhood children’s farm chores each morning include feeding the chickens and rabbits and collecting the chicken eggs. The children are able to see the chicken eggs in connection to the chickens. They are able to feel the warmth of the newly laid eggs and experience the egg in its natural state. They smell the smells and hear the sounds of the chickens. You will often hear the older kindergarten children in a bout of excitement say, “Ms. Morse, we found five eggs today!” During their farming classes each week, the first graders take the eggs collected by the younger children and wash them. In the fall there weren’t enough eggs for snack so Essex Farm made donations each week. Now that the chickens are producing more, the eggs from Black Kettle will be used for the children’s snack. In the winter when the wood fired cook stove is cranking, the eggs are even cooked on the wood stove. Remember that walnut tree? It’s now used to cook the food the children eat. So from chicken to steaming eggs and sausage, the children are able to experience the process of where their food comes from and how a tree is transformed into not only a tree-house but also warmth to cook their food.
Will we as humanity survive or perish? Much of this depends on us as adults developing the capacity for whole systems thinking and giving experiences to our children in order for them to develop these capacities as a normal element of their education and upbringing.
Thank you for giving your children the gift of developing those capacities of thought, which, as they get older, will facilitate these children in envisioning and developing the new solutions of tomorrow that this world desperately needs.
Kathleen Morse, Office Administrator
For more View From the Office Window click here.
Spring Barn Dance and Auction
Saturday, June 8th, 5:30 pm
Stomp your feet and support Lakeside School at this annual and much anticipated community event. Our spring barn dance is the perfect opportunity to brush off your boots, spin, twirl and stomp. A delicious chili dinner starts at 5:30pm. Kids dancing begins at 6:30pm and dancing for all kicks off at 7:00pm. This is a family friendly event and all are welcome. Reconnect with friends and neighbors from the North Country and beyond. Suggested donation is $10. Email or call for more information. 963-7385 or email@example.com. We hope to see you on the dance floor!
Ice Cream Social
Eating ice cream and supporting Lakeside School all at the same time, what more could you ask? Join us next Sunday, June 16th for a good old-fashioned Ice Cream Social. All proceeds support the Lakeside School Scholarship Fund. A big thanks to Wayne Gryk at the Ice Cream Shop and Erin Hall for proposing the idea!
Date: June 16, 2013 (Father’s Day!)
Location: Essex Ice Cream Cafe – Main St.; Essex, NY
Email or call for more information. 963-7385 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there.