See you in the fall, innovators

By Krestin Bahr Welcome to June, the month of emancipation. The end of school is in sight for our students. Options, options all day long and choices loom in the future. In the first heady days of freedom, nature begs to be heard. From the falls that cascade into a fern lined grotto in Pack Forest, to the creeks and ponds that are full of palm-sized polliwogs (either baby dragons or bullfrogs, depending on your imagination), the outside beckons to children and adults alike. This year has been a good year, even as Eatonville schools define becoming an innovative school district GÇô designated by the superintendent of public instruction the State of Washington Innovative Schools 2016. What can this mean for a small rural district in southwestern Pierce County? To help answer this, I would like to discuss hay and haymakers. In the 1920s, it was a man and horses that put up the hay GÇô unless you were one of the big farmer class and owned tractors, hay loaders and hay balers. My great grandfather Hatlestad did the haying with a team of horses, a clattering mower, hay rake, pitchforks and a wagon with a hay rack. After three days of optimal weather, when the dew dried, the boys (great-uncle Carl, Alfred and Joseph) pitched the hay into haycocks. In the '20s, our barn had an upstairs and downstairs. My grandmother carried lunch to the haymakers and commented that this was the happiest task of June, for it meant picnicking every day on thick sandwiches of homemade bread thickly spread with homemade butter and a slab of "summer sausage.GÇ¥ A two-quart blue mason jar of freshly pumped well water and ginger molasses cookies finished off a picnic on newly winnowed Timothy hay. This story was repeated thousands GÇô no, millions GÇô of times during the '20s with fond memories from families throughout our nation. Now, almost a century later, we find that our schools are facing a need to redefine and innovate to capture our youth. As we look at innovation and incorporating new technology, may we also reflect and remember what children need. Our youth need caring adults, a sense of place and stability, the ability to explore and imagine, and access to every tool that has been invented. Eatonville schools has recently been gifted the Kjelstad-Burwash farm in Ohop Valley, a 3.8-acre farm that houses a large barn, farmhouse, and outbuildings. Next fall, we will be inviting the public and staff to help us with our vision of the future, starting with our programs utilizing the farm. On Sept. 29th and Oct. 1, we will provide tours for the public in two events, (limited-capacity 60) to help us vision the future of the farm. These events are facilitated by GRUB, a non-profit organization in Olympia. The opportunity to combine history, STEM, ARTS and other subjects at a site that is surrounded by salmon restoration land and a state park is a fantastic opportunity for students. We are also focusing on our arts curriculum, starting with the evaluation of our music programs. We know that many things do not change over time. Hay still needs to be gathered for animals, and students learn better when they are engaged in projects with adults who care about them. Nature is an astounding teacher, and we are blessed Eatonville sits in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, where tools and technology can be used by children at young ages in the presence of adults. "The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to the important fields for society; it is that education which in the main is founded upon the desire for successful activity and acknowledgement. If the school succeeds in working successfully, it will be highly honored by the rising generation and the tasks given by the school will be submitted to as a sort of gift. I have known children who preferred school time to vacation.GÇ¥ (Einstein, 1936) Such schools are our goal. Teachers and administrators will have extensive liberty in material selection and methods of teaching to create schools that exemplify, developing independent thinking and judgment, working independently and above all, seeing service to the community as their highest life endeavor - this is what innovative schools have done for centuries. "Education is that which remains if one has forgotten everything he learned in school.GÇ¥ (Einstein) Thank you to the inventors GÇô those who created tractors and hay balers, poetry and written prose, to artists and musicians and to leaders willing to change our world for the better. Thank you to our families and their graduates for attempting and succeeding in our schools. June celebrates your accomplishments with flowers, long days and vacations. Whether your summer is filled with fishing, vacation Bible school, stargazing or bucking hay, may you rejoice in the season and join us in September. P.S. Much of the hay recollection came directly from Edna Hong's "A Nostalgic AlmanacGÇ¥ GÇô my grandmother and most favorite woman writer. I miss her terribly.
Krestin Bahr is superintendent of the Eatonville School District.


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