From the Inside Out – A View through the Lens of a Educational Guide

From the Inside Out – A View through the Lens of a Educational Guide

By Cheri Reinke
DCS Educational Guide/Licensed Teacher

Our new learning space at the DCS site.
Our new learning space at the DCS site.

This past April I was scanning through the classifieds ads on Craigslist, in an effort to help my oldest son find employment. I stumbled upon an ad looking for “Educational Guides” at a new charter school in Dallas, Oregon. I was intrigued, especially when I saw one phrase that caught my eye, “out of the box teacher.”   I kept reading.

When I finished reading the job description, I was in tears.  This was the job that I have envisioned in my mind.  It encompassed all that I was in a teacher and it took away the limitations of a traditional classroom and allowed me the freedom to work with kids in such a unique and truly individualistic way.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I knew that I had to apply.

I was so content at my current position and I wasn’t looking for a change in schools.  When I told my principal at my school about the position and I knew she wouldn’t be happy.  After reading the job description, she told me I had to go for it.  That position was written for me.

What does a twenty year teacher from a private school background do going into a brand new public charter school?  Learn! Explore!  Investigate!  Study! Ask Questions!  Isn’t that the very same model that I am striving to model for my learners?  How am I going to do that?  What model am I going to use?  How do I teach multiple ages at one time and make it fun and hands on?  How do I work with my families off site?

The past month we have been working very long days.  I know I say this from all of us working side by side, and we don’t have all the answers but we are tirelessly working to figure it out. We are learners. We will make mistakes. One thing I share with my students is that  there is nothing wrong with making mistakes.  It is what you do with what you have that matters.  It the first path doesn’t work, take another.  Don’t quit.  Think positive.

At Dallas Community School we are a team of learners that want the very best of our students.  We want kids that are allowed to think and do and be.  We want to give them the opportunities to be kids and to wonder and grow.  As one of four educational guides, I look forward to working with you side by side and working to make this school outstanding.

Find ways to be involved.  We need you.

Cheri Reinke

Educational Guide

We’re in the Statesman Journal!

We’re in the Statesman Journal!

bildeLast week we sat down the Statesman Journal reporter Geoff Parks to chat about our plans for the Cooperative. One we were able to assure him that we weren’t a bunch of crazy hippies (well, we sort of are, really) Geoff asked a ton of great questions and even managed to get a flattering picture. Heartfelt thanks to Geoff and the Statesman Journal for such a positive spin on alternative learning models.

Here’s the link to the article:

And here’s the text:

Learning model includes parents’ help
Written by Geoff Parks Special to the Statesman Journal
Jan. 21
Three moms and one stay-at-home dad are riding the crest of a September 2013 lunchtime idea to form a new kind of learning experience for children in the Dallas area.

Wendy Sparks, Erin Miller, Rebecca Rutan and Casey Sparks had their meal last fall and “started thinking about what we could do that would fit the needs of our kids (school-wise), and it just developed from there,” Wendy Sparks said.

The idea they came up with was to create a combination home-schooling/guided instruction learning model they call the Mahonia Learning Cooperative — also called a “parent-driven collective” and a “homeschool mixed with a cottage school” in their promotional literature.
The cooperative is, in effect, an open learning “program,” not a school at all, said Casey Sparks. Mahonia Learning Cooperative is listed as a non-profit entity, and should have its 501(c)(3) designation by this fall.

“We consider the Mahonia Learning Cooperative to be a creative hybrid between what a home school provides and the learning community that a public school provides,” Wendy Sparks said.
Mahonia will limit enrollment to 17 students entering grades K through 6 when it opens in the fall of 2014, she said, adding that the school’s “basic vision” notes it is not a private school, but a model that makes the parents “ultimately responsible for the education of their children.” Management of the cooperative is the duty of a Council of Parents.

The Mahonia Learning Cooperative morning curriculum from 8 a.m to noon will be led by a
tutor/facilitator/instructor (not necessarily a certified teacher), and will use the Moving Beyond the Page homeschool curriculum. That “interdisciplinary,” literature-based curriculum is said to stimulate critical and creative thinking through independent and small-group learning. Sparks said it was developed “for children who are either gifted or tend to learn with their hands or learn creatively.”

In the afternoons (from noon to 3 p.m.), the cooperative hopes to get the kids all STEAM-ed up with
activities led by parent and community volunteers with expertise in subject areas such as Science,
Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).