The new school year will start with almost three weeks of the Joint Learning Session, August 7-24. Friday, August 25 is a Teacher Transition Day – no school for the students! The Greenhouse will officially start on Monday, August 28.
The kindergarten class just finished a unit about the rainforest. During the week they learned about the four layers of that make up the rainforest: floor, understory, canopy and emergent. Each day they focused on a different layer by reading books and learned about the different animals that would be found in that layer. The students then glued a few of the animals onto a poster to help them remember. Some of the animals they enjoyed learning about were the harpy eagle, morpho butterfly, sloth, toucan, poisonous dart frog, lemur, spider monkey, and tree boa.
They also created our own classroom rainforest!
The students also enjoyed making jaguar puppets and monkey mask.
In the afternoons during their free play time students continued to show what they had been learning. Some drew their own rainforest pictures on the chalkboard, others discussed what they had learned while putting together rainforest puzzles. And one group of students worked together to build their own rainforest using the blocks and toy animals. They were so excited to show what they made and learned.
The students also learned about things that come from the rainforest that we use – like rubber, cocoa, plants that are used for medicine, and many of the fruits that we eat. They were sad to hear that the rainforest is disappearing and that many of the animals are becoming endangered.
The first three weeks of the 2015-16 school year were amazing. So many students came together, so many families were represented, and God provided for our needs. Nineteen families, thirty eight students, and eight staff members participated in an varied program of learning. During the three weeks, we reviewed Math skills, learned about ancient Greece, researched and wrote, did science experiments, practiced some modern Olympic sports, and made some Greek vases. We ended with a marvelous Olympic event. As classes at The Greenhouse get started, we are already excitedly anticipating the December JLS. The highlights of December include swimming and the Christmas program. this year the Christmas program will see JLS and RFIS students working together to put on a spectacular show.
Always packed and ready to go! I cannot say that this was always the case for this particular traveler, but I can say that this is the habit of life that an itinerant teacher lives when facing the daily routine of life. Some people would tell me that they did not know how I could do it – the constant travel, the continual change in classroom, curriculum and routine….But sometime I would wonder how they could keep it up – always staying in one place for months on end with rarely a break from the daily grind of keeping house, schooling children, running ministry, maintaining community….life has a place carved out for each one of us for the proper season and time, and I would heartily claim that the LORD has prepared both life and the person for the venture. This is what itinerant teaching has taught me.
So, a little explanation on what it is like to itinerant teach in a non-western setting. In one word: incomparable. Itinerant teaching is incomparable to any other kind of teaching that I have encountered. I need to add that I have not encountered very many “kinds” of teaching since I graduated from college only seven months prior to itinerant teaching, and I really only had student and substitute teaching under my belt prior to this. I think if I had given a phrase to itinerant teaching during that first year, I would have said that it was a “one-time” experience for me, for I was glad that each visit only lasted for two or three weeks. This mentality was primarily due to the adjustment of first-year teaching, in addition to the constant travel and transition of itinerant teaching. After that first year was under my belt, although the wear of itinerant teaching was still fatiguing, I would certainly say that “I would not trade it for the world.” To know my students not only in the classroom, but also in their home and village setting, to know their family personally, sharing meals with them on a daily basis – these were the incomparable gifts that no other kind of teaching offers. It was a precious glimpse into the unique lives of my village students.
I could offer an exciting glimpse of school for the itinerant teacher and her students, including stories of field trips to the fon’s (or village chief’s) palace or of morning breaks catching stray chickens that had flown the coop or of school projects practicing photography and making village scrapbooks. The list could only go on! But while school can be very exciting for a village kid, it is also normal. Every day is filled with math, reading, writing, history, science, spelling, etc. for each student – a normal school day.
Incomparable, precious, exciting, normal – these are all words that I have given to itinerant teaching. The final word that I have to give is one that I saw time and time again in my adventure as an itinerant teacher. Purposeful. The LORD was very purposeful and intentional in placing me with each of my families at each of the times that I visited. Either for the benefit of the family or the benefit of the itinerant teacher, I can probably recount the purpose and meaning that each visit held. Sometimes the village families needed the educational advice or simply the break that the itinerant teacher gave them. Sometimes the itinerant teacher was blessed by the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of a certain village or by the joyful community that a village family encouraged and fostered. One scenario which exemplifies this was when I went to visit a family and teach their children for five weeks after the homeschooling parent was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and the family was anticipating the recovery period to take months. How fitting that the itinerant teacher had the time to stay for over a month, doing regular teacher tasks, but also filling in with meals and childcare! And I can only testify that God’s strength filled me to step into that role at that time. Thankfully, He replenished me with a brief vacation in the mountains before I made my next itinerant visit to a family who is very much like family to me. With dedication to school work, as well as to family time, enjoying creation and playing games as a family, I can say that this end to my two itinerant teaching trips was very restoring, due to the purpose that the LORD had for those two families and for me.
Now, itinerant teaching is done, its season is over for me. It was a great experience, one that I still miss and will miss probably for the rest of my life. And yet, it was time to end. The LORD prepared me even for its ending, as He was also preparing me for a new beginning of life as a married woman. I am still getting used to being married and I am still hoping to find other work as a teacher, but this is what the LORD has for me and it is good. Waiting teaches us to trust in Him and lean on Him more. We are in daily need of our God, our Savior. This is what itinerant teaching has taught me, a lesson I hope to continue to learn for the rest of my life. Do you feel that need? If not, maybe itinerant teaching is just the job the LORD has for you to learn your need of Him.
Twelve teaching days in April brought home school students and The Greenhouse students together in the classroom as well as learning volleyball skills and about five different musical instruments. It was a full session with lots of activity and lots of fun!
Here are our students and staff!
On Thursday, January 28, we celebrated the 100th day of school at The Greenhouse. Each class had activities centered around 100. Students weighed, measured, counted, and guessed if there were more or less than 100.
A termite mound was removed from the rafters of a nearby building in early January. On the first day of school after Christmas Break, each class at The Greenhouse took a turn studying and dissecting the mound. Prior to the ‘field work’, each class learned about termites from books borrowed from the school library.