Archive for April, 2011

Education Options for Children with ADHD in South Florida

“Leila, was that a dream? Or is your school real?” Suzy asked my daughter after spending the day at Sunset Sudbury School.  Six students sat in the art room working on their projects while explaining the school to Suzy. At first she couldn’t believe that the school didn’t have any teachers. Leila corrected her, “Everybody is a teacher here, even the kids.” It didn’t take long for Suzy to catch on. She is an incredibly bright and intensely curious seven-year-old. She speaks three languages fluently and is working on a fourth. She is really active, soaking in her environment wherever she goes. She was a pleasure to have at our school and all the students liked her.

Towards the end of her very busy day at Sunset Sudbury, she decided that the art room needed cleaning. With a broom in hand, she recruited three students to help her. She gently directed and coordinated their efforts. When the job was complete, Suzy decided that students needed reminders to keep the art room clean. Again she recruited student to make signs and post them around the room.

“How lucky we would be to have her as a student,” I later told her mother. She agreed that Suzy was very bright, but talked too much in class. The teachers at her public school (which is “in a very good school district in South Florida”) recommended that she be tested for ADHD. Suzy’s mom was genuinely concerned. My heart sank. I looked at her straight in the eye and said, “There is nothing wrong with Suzy. Don’t let them tell you that there is anything wrong with her and don’t let them tell her that there is anything wrong with her. It is more likely that there is something wrong with that school.” Suzy’s mom said thank you and broke down crying. I hope she got it.

For a different perspective on ADHD, see Peter Gray’s blog ADHD and School: The Problem of Assessing Normalcy in an Abnormal Environment and Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about Changing Education Paradigms (See Video Below).

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Getting Ready for Whistlepig

Many Clearwater students and all four staff members are spending the week in a state of high expectation and preparation for Whistlepig, Clearwater's fourth annual festival of music, food and sun, this Sunday, May 1, 1-6pm. (We hope the sun cooperates and shows its welcome face on Sunday.) Details of all the great things you can see and do at Whistlepig are at the end of this post.

First, here's a sneak peek at two of the performances that will be featured at Whistlepig.

Jacy, Maddy and Keenan are the 1, 2, 3's, who will be performing their latest choreographed spinning routine, Spintastics. I sat in and videoed some of their latest choreography.

As I watched, I was struck by the deep friendship between these three that enables them to work together with ease, honesty and mutual support when creating their spinning choreography. They have been friends for many years and the trust and respect between them is evident.

This mutual trust and their affection for each other is a product of years spent figuring each other out, working hard to understand complicated, difficult feelings, learning to appreciate each others quirks and strengths, and their commitment to honesty.

When they work together on a project such as their upcoming Whistlepig performance, they know each other so well that they can jump right in, communicate clearly without worrying about stepping on each other's toes or feelings, and collaboratively create something they love with efficiency and skill.

Most schools are not equipped to provide uninterrupted time, space and an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect for children to explore and develop honest, rich relationships with each other. Fortunately, at Clearwater, students can devote the fullness of their energy, creativity and time over days, months and years (not just at recess or breaks between classes) to developing relationship skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Another amazing performance at Whistlepig will be the Wiggling Monkeys, Clearwater's choreographed hula hooping group. They have been spinning hoops together for several years now, and enjoy the opportunity to create something that is exciting for them and their audiences. This year will be no exception.

Finally, here are full Whistlepig details. We'd love to see you, your family and friends. If you can't come, consider making a tax deductible donation via Clearwater's home page.

Featured performances by:

Kimo Muraki
Clearwater Singers
Zoe’s Fuse – Irish music and dance
We Shadows Theatrical Troupe – scene from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
Wiggling Monkeys – choreographed hula hooping
The 1, 2, 3’s – Spintastics (choreographed spinning)

Come hungry! The menu will feature sandwiches made with pulled pork smoked on site and prepared by Clearwater’s Master Chef students; fresh green salad; vegetarian entrées and sides; snacks and beverages.

Then, indulge in homemade scrumptious pastries and yummy desserts made by the amazing bakers in our community.

More favorite activities:
  • Tap into your inner wisdom with palm, aura and tarot readings
  • Be part of Whistlepig’s carnival vibe and pick up a mask, mardi gras beads, head dress and other festive gear
  • Make a one-of-a-kind button you can wear proudly at any occasion
  • Decorate yourself with divine body art

$10 suggested donation

End of post.

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Admissions are Open!

Spring is in the air, and Reach is ready for you. If you are ready to come on board, fill out a Request for Admission Interview. If you are just finding out about Reach, find your next step in our Admissions process. Signing up now helps us build momentum, and guarantees you a spot. Are […]

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Admissions are Open!

Spring is in the air, and Reach is ready for you. If you are ready to come on board, fill out a Request for Admission Interview. If you are just finding out about Reach, find your next step in our Admissions process. Signing up now helps us build momentum, and guarantees you a spot. Are […]

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Admissions are Open!

Spring is in the air, and Reach is ready for you. If you are ready to come on board, fill out a Request for Admission Interview. If you are just finding out about Reach, find your next step in our Admissions process. Signing up now helps us build momentum, and guarantees you a spot. Are […]

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New Reach Founder!

We recently welcomed a new official member, Ben Robins, into our founders’ group. Ben relocated to Toronto from Kingston to join forces with other Sudbury enthusiasts. Ben is a great networker and we really appreciate his efforts to connect with like-minded people throughout the city to let them know about Reach. He is currently planning [...]

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Information Night, April 20, 2011

Our next Information Night will be on: Date: April 20, 2011 Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Topic: Problem solving through the Judicial Committee Location: 400 Walmer Rd., West Tower, Party Salon, 2nd fl. TTC directions from St Clair West Station:

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The Human Nature of Teaching I: Ways of Teaching That We Share With Other Animals

Teaching is natural in at least some other animals as well as in humans. Almost all such cases of teaching involve relatively simple ways by which the teacher helps the learner practice some skill or acquire some information that the learner is highly motivated to practice or acquire. Teaching, then, is altruistic; it serves the learner at some cost to the teacher..

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Seeking new staff member

Sunset Sudbury School seeks a part-time staff person to work with students ages 4-18 in its self-directed democratic program. This is not a traditional teaching position, and we are not looking for traditional teachers. During our start-up phase, compensation will be provided in the form of tuition waivers. Staff members are expected to work 2-3 days per week with flexible hours.

Sunset Sudbury School opened its doors as a non-profit, private school last August. We are located in Davie, Florida and currently have 10 students enrolled. At Sunset Sudbury School, students explore the world freely, at their own pace and in their own unique ways. They learn to think for themselves, and acquire the knowledge they need from multiple sources, including nature, books, technology, and people. Trust and respect are the keys to the school’s success. Students enjoy total intellectual freedom, and unfettered interaction with other students and adults. Through being responsible for themselves and for the school’s operation, they gain the internal resources needed to lead effective lives.

Being a successful staff person at Sunset Sudbury School requires an ability to honor the choices of others even when those choices are not those you would make, and an ability to trust in the school’s peer-based judicial system to adequately resolve conflicts and rule infractions. Staff at Sunset Sudbury School do not create activities for students to pursue and do not have the authority to unilaterally establish or enforce rules. Instead, staff at Sunset Sudbury School are available as facilitators and friends as students pursue their own interests.

Required Qualifications:

  • Belief in the natural impulse of children (and adults!) to strive for personal growth; commitment to one’s own personal growth
  • Must be extremely reliable and safety-conscious
  • Possess high levels of professionalism, personal maturity, and authenticity
  • Excellent communication and literacy skills, must be able to interact effectively and respectfully with children and adults from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Be an interested, interesting, engaged, and passionate person
  • Strong self-management skills, including high levels of initiative and ability to authentically and effectively prioritize, including the ability to decline requests from children when appropriate
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of student and family data, as well as to keep a constant eye out for the protection of student privacy in less formal ways
  • Ability to pass required background checks
  • General ability to physically participate in the school’s program

Please send your resume and letter of interest to Thank you for your interest.

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Sudbury Staff

In the last post, a question came up: What do Sudbury staff do if teaching is not their primary role? Just as learning at a Sudbury school is often organic and ever-evolving, the staffing job also is multi-faceted and sometimes hard to define. Staff work together with students as equal members of the democratic school [...]

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