Archive for March, 2012

Making the Leap

I thought I’d do a short series of posts about making the leap to democratic education–otherwise known as the admissions process!  I’ve been the Admissions Clerk for most of our three years of operation, and I really enjoy working with the families and students who consider entering this new world of freedom and opportunity.  For many people, it is a leap that is exciting, yet a bit scary, as this new world is unfamiliar and very different from what most of us have experienced in our own education.  In this series, I’ll talk about how admissions works, who should apply, and answer some frequently asked admissions questions.  If you have a question to ask the Admissions Clerk, please email me at abbe (at) risingtideschool (dot) org, and I’ll address it here on the blog.  Also, please save the date for our next Open House, on April 29th at 1:30pm.  At the Open House, you can tour the school, ask your questions in person, and meet other prospective and current students and their families.

Today, I’ll speak to the question: How does admissions work at Rising Tide School?

First of all, congratulations!  If you’re considering admissions, you may have decided that you are ready for something different, and you want to see if Rising Tide School is the school for you.  Enrollment at Rising Tide School is open to any student, age 5-18, who is independent, ready to take responsibility for themselves and their education, and who wishes to attend the school.  The admissions process is a mutual interview process in which the student, their parent(s), and the school assess whether or not the school is a good fit for the individual student and their educational needs.  During admissions, students and parents have plenty of time to ask questions and come to a full understanding of the school’s philosophy and operations.  When students and their families decide to make the leap, they do so as informed participants in the school’s free, democratic environment.

The admissions process has 4 steps:

1.  Visit the School

  • We strongly recommend an initial visit to the school, either at an Open House, or during an Admissions Visit.  Admissions Visits are available by appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

2.  Application and Interview

  • Student and parent(s) complete an application.  The application is designed to help prospective families understand the school and assess their readiness and desire to participate within it.
  • After your application is received at the school, we will contact you to schedule an interview.  The interview typically lasts an hour, and is a time to discuss the student and family’s past educational experiences, your hopes and needs for a new educational environment, and to answer questions about Rising Tide School and Sudbury education.

3.  Visiting Week

  • After the application and interview are complete, students spend a full 5 days as visiting students at the school.  During the Visiting Week, students experience the school for themselves and decide whether they are interested in attending.
  • At the end of the week, the Admissions Committee makes an admissions decision.  If no concerns are noted during the Visiting Week, the student will be invited to enroll.

4.  Enrollment

  • Upon successful completion of the Visiting Week, students may enroll.  Enrollment is open on a space-available basis from September-March of each school year.  New family enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year begins in April.
If you are considering Rising Tide School for the upcoming school year, I look forward to meeting you and discussing the school with you.  And again, please feel free to contact me with any questions.

posted by Abbe

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Clearwater goes Hunger Games…

Many Clearwater students have participated in their own version of the Hunger Games. Alliances are formed and broken. To decide the damage of a strike the battlers count to three and put out a number of fingers, if the total is even the strike hits, if the total number of fingers is odd the strike misses.

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What Leads Families to “Unschool” Their Children? Report II

Here, based on a survey of 232 unschooling families, I address these questions: Why did they remove their children from standard schooling? Why did they transition from homeschooling to unschooling? What authors, and what life experiences, influenced their decision?

read more

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Auction 2012!

We’d like to extend a warm invitation to all friends and supporters of Rising Tide School to join us for our annual Auction, which will take place on Saturday, April 14th, at 6pm.  This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and a wonderful chance for you to enjoy a fabulous auction evening while supporting democratic education in Olympia!

We have some amazing items to auction this year, including:

  • Incredibly beautiful Kramer Shun Slicer knife from world-renowned bladesmith Bob Kramer
  • Dr. Israel (!!!) will remix one of your original compositions, or appear as a guest on a track.
  • African Photo Safari and luxury accommodations at Ezulwini Game Lodge
  • Original large-scale drawing on canvas by Chelsea Baker
  • A stay at the Wavecrest Resort on the island of Molokai
  • Sam Gray of Sam Gray Sound (Rising Tide School founder) will record, mix and master one audio piece (song, commercial, interview) for you!
  • Laughter Yoga session for 5-500 people with a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader at your venue.
  • Private wine tasting for for people plus 3 bottles of wine at Convergence Zone Cellars.
  • Signed and framed posters by Nikki McClure.
  • Hundreds of other items and experiences from local businesses, including Lengua Rica, Aaron Barna Photography, 360 Motorsports (Rising Tide School alumnus-owned business!), K Records, Waves Studio, Rusty Cock Ridge, Olympia Family Theater, and many, many more, plus art, handcrafts, and lots more goodness.  Click here for a complete list of auction donors.

The evening includes:

  • Live auction with Cindy Schorno, auctioneer
  • Silent auction
  • Wine Ring Toss
  • Best of Live Raffle
  • Delicious food and wine
  • Childcare and junior auction for kids 4-12

We hope you will join us!  For tickets, please call the school at 360.753-0820, or purchase at

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“Little Bits” Photos by Delayney

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Beyond grades and transcripts

Rising Tide School is a place where students are responsible for making their own way in the world. They are responsible for deciding what to do with their time, for discovering their own direction in life, and for setting and reaching their own goals.

In order to support students in setting and achieving their own unique goals, there is no assessment whatsoever at the school. No academic record is kept, no grades are ever given (save for the rare circumstance where a student requests a grade within a student-initiated class), and staff do not pass judgment on students’ work or progress, unless a student specifically asks for feedback. Students are forced to look carefully at their work and decide if it measures up to their own standards. Have they learned the skills they need to get where they want to go? Is their work good enough for the purpose it was created?  Was their vision effectively translated into reality? This type of assessment is authentic and the stakes are high.  Students must do their work well enough for real purposes, and it’s up to them to assess themselves with clear eyes (or to ask for other eyes when needed!)

When the time comes to present their work to the world, students are responsible for creating the records they need to effectively present themselves to future employers or college admissions officers. Here’s a view of a very dedicated student artist,  who enlisted the help of one of the school’s interns to create a digital portfolio, using high-quality photo equipment to which the intern has access.  (A great example of how students access resources in the larger community). This process was a happy one for both people; serving as celebration of all the student’s hard work and perseverance, as well as the the beautiful art she’s created and the skills she’s taught herself.  Assessment is often about seeing all the wonderful growth, strength, and skill that can be the fruit of self-directed education!

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