I love Salmonberry School. I really do. It is the embodiment of so much I believe about nurturing child development and holistic education. I am fully and deeply committed to the 40-ish students who spend their days at Salmonberry School, the hundreds we see in the summer during our camp programs and the many hundreds who have come before and will follow after. And, yet, somehow, I always yearn to do just a little more – to reach a little further. This model of education is beautiful, joyful and works incredibly well in our little corner of the world. And I perpetually yearn to connect our corner to others. I have spent many years traveling to visit other schools, to talk to other school leaders, authors and activists and to attend, speak and present workshops at conferences across North America. It feels good to connect – to share what we do, and what we’ve learned over the years at Salmonberry, and to hear other stories and learn from others’ experiences. And…I still want to do more – to reach a little further.
For the past ten years or so I have been reaching to the opposite corner of the United States to collaborate with a dear friend and colleague, Debbie Millon. For all these years Debbie has been Head of the Bellwether School, a sister school to Salmonberry founded by Dr. Ron Miller, who has been a great mentor to me. Much has been gained from this collaboration. We have shared friendship, collegiality and very practical nuts and bolts practices and policies. And…we both yearned to do more – to reach further.
Debbie and I finally met in person at a Holistic Teaching and Learning Conference in Winnipeg, in May, 2016. And now, the floodgates have opened! Debbie and I have created a new non-profit organization we are proud to call The Holistic Education Initiative (HEI). The HEI’s audaciously ambitious Mission is simply to unite and strengthen the field of holistic education. To accomplish this goal we will be pursuing several targets:
First, we are working to carefully select and collate a collection of articles, essays and other resources that articulate the core values and key beliefs of holistic education. This task has put me into direct contact with many of my heroes in the field. I have been passing essays and conversation back and forth with folks like Nel Noddings, Riane Eisler, David Sobel, Jack Miller and other brilliant scholars and holistic educators. This has been a personal thrill and also a very rich dialogue. Everyone I connect with has voiced tremendous enthusiasm and support for HEI and has been very happy to help. I feel so honored. We will also be facilitating networking by moderating an online blog, linking our site to other holistic schools, organizations and conferences, and informational websites from around the world.
Second, HEI will be raising funds from private donors as well as foundations in order to be able to fund proposals that will allow both individuals and organizations to further their study of holistic education and deepen their practice. We will grant funds to people to attend conferences, classes and workshops, travel to visit other schools, and partially fund new initiatives and projects.
Third, HEI will offer and coordinate consulting services for individuals and organizations who would like even more personalized and sustained support and mentorship as they reach towards new depths of understanding and practice.
I’m sure there will be even more aspects to HEI’s work. There is initial talk about sponsoring speakers, co-hosting conferences, perhaps even getting involved with founding a new peer-reviewed scholarly journal. True to our pedagogical beliefs in emergent growth and learning, we will stay open to what opportunities might arise.
I am so excited to move some of my energy into this new broader arena. Salmonberry School will always be at the center of my work in education. Now I feel like this core nexus is reaching out into the cosmos and joining a much much bigger and beautiful family! Salmonberry School…I’d like you to meet…the world! If you are interested in learning more about the Holistic Education Initiative, or learning more about holistic education, please visit the HEI website. It is intended to be a home for parents and educators alike who want to help nurture children in wholeness.