Even though we’re smack dab in the middle of summer break, I’m so excited to share with you a new experiential school that’s opening here in our community this fall called the Buckeye Friends School. Since it shares the name of one of my most favorite sweet treats (buckeye candy), I’ve created a separate post with that recipe too.
But first, here’s a bit about the school.
What is the Buckeye Friends School?
Buckeye Friends is a progressive, self-directed, project-based, experiential learning community committed to teaching our students the life skills needed to thrive in every circumstance. We prioritize vulnerability and wholehearted living while honoring the needs of the whole child; body, mind and soul.
At Buckeye, we empower our kids with freedom to craft their own stories, define and measure their own success while teaching them that their choices will change the world. By using real world models and problems, students are encouraged to dive deep into a vast array of subjects, think big, and do great things.
They currently have 3 spots left for the 2019/2020 school year. If you live in the Effingham County area in Illinois and are interested in more information and would like a tour, please check out their website: www.buckeyefs.com
This is a hybrid learning program that offers a modern, challenging, learner centric curriculum shared in mixed age pods. Along with a strong STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and literacy foundation, Buckeye kids enjoy a living classroom with daily access to a forest, stream, pond, farm animals, composting, growing, music, cooking, sculpting, coding Spanish, French and much, much more.
The Buckeye Metaphor
Craig Lindval, a teacher in the Effingham community and a founder of the high school program Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO), told a story about how as a young teacher each year a student would give him a buckeye from the school play yard.
Each time the child would hand it over as if it was the most precious thing in the world. If you rubbed it, it would get shiny. It was good luck! You could plant it and have a tree for shade, a place for a swing, a fun place to play and climb.
A buckeye’s uses and potential is limitless!
But for most adults (our school system included), a buckeye was barely a rock, clutter, a nuisance with simply no potential. The traditional school system is designed to curb creativity and trains students to perform for standardized tests.
Buckeye is an effort to kindle the creative fire in each of its students. It encourages thinking big and finding joy in the exploration of knowledge of all things.
Our Expanding Future
Technology is expanding at a furious rate. According to Moore’s Law, the rate of technological change is expanding at an exponential rate.
In 2001 futurist Ray Kurzweil said, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
Just think how much things have changed in the past 15 years: wireless internet, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. Now, imagine how incredibly different things will be in 2025, or even 2100.
And yet our classroom model has remained unchanged from the 1950’s. It is reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution and poorly adequate to prepare the next generation for the world they will inherit. Buckeye is solving this disconnect.
The Buckeye Friends System
Students are empowered to learn by thinking creatively in order to problem solve and make decisions. Mistakes are encouraged so they learn firsthand what works and what doesn’t without becoming discouraged. This is why at Buckeye F always stands for Find another way.
With one on one focused attention and development students learn how to tap into their resources as well as how to work together on group projects. Exposing students to a wide range of resources enable them to learn quickly and effectively. Aside from learning grammar, students will also have the opportunity to learn Spanish and computer coding.
The class structure are project arcs that are based on the students’ depth of inquiry. For instance, the class may decide to study “fish.” Depending on the class’ level of interest, the teacher (or Co-Learner, Buckeye’s term for their teachers) may then guide the class into areas of biology, history, environmental impacts, mathematics, cooking, and/or science and how they directly pertain to fish.
Young learners may even decide to write a song about fish. As excitement builds around an area of study (Arc) as in this example with “fish”, the Co-Learner may traverse them down the path of health, digestion, nutrition, and/or creating a grocery budget.
Buckeye understands that children are brilliant and have an innate love of learning. When that love of learning is encouraged, students learn and retain information at lightning speed.
Currently the Buckeye Friends School is located on a working dairy farm outside Montrose, IL. The Co-Learners are Christy Dietzen, Kristie Campbell, and Carrie Huff. Together they have over 50 years teaching experience in Effingham, St. Louis, Maine, and North Carolina.
This experiential learning environment is much more than reading, writing and arithmetic, although those are all encompassed in every Arc. Additionally, Buckeye focuses on community service and entrepreneurial thinking. These two values that are highly encouraged. Buckeye understands how vital these young minds are and how important it is that they develop into capable and adaptable young adults so they can make a powerful positive impact on the world.
If you would like a tour and would like more information please feel free to check out the website: www.buckeyefs.com or contact any of the Co-learner/teachers below.
Kristie Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
Christy Dietzen email@example.com
Carrie Huff firstname.lastname@example.org