This is our second floor view, out onto the school yard (also known as the outdoor classroom)... It's a secret garden; tucked out of sight and sound from the rest of the city. It is literally is a-buzz with life and learning. Sometimes it feels like we've walked through the wardrobe into a magic kingdom!
This is how we designed our first building...
Semillas is a community of educators and families who want to make the BEST of the years that we GET to accompany our kids, before setting them free out into the world.
Our strategies are simple. Respect, curiosity, nature, experience, projects, teamwork...
The sky is the limit... in many cases, the students choose what they want to work on and we trust in the educational outcomes inherent to authentic experience. Our teachers connect the skills acquired from these projects to the curriculum. The beauty of working this way, is that no curriculum is extensive enough to predict all of the learning that comes out of a project, so the actual educational outcome is worlds bigger than any governing body could ever diagram out prior.
2020 has been a challenge from the start. We have been working and adapting to the virtual learning environment, while trying to stay true to what is important to us as a school.
We have an amazing group of parents, who have done many workshops with us, they are certainly right now in their STRETCH ZONE, but they remain confident and gracious for the effort Semillas is putting into keeping the tribe together, and continuing to pursue what we can learn from it all...
While we thought the inicial reaction of the Peruvian government was a bit 'extreme'... we also thought that by acting swiftly and early, we would be one of the first countries in South America to 'open' back up. Three months later, we are still in our houses, the country still mostly slammed shut, unemployment the norm, and no clear end in sight.
The families of our students have lost their businesses, some have been kicked out of their houses. There are families with one parent 'stuck' in another part of the country, unable to get home because there is not travel between regions. And of course, everyone has all of their kids at home, and are trying to adapt to the new 'non-routine' while supporting learning, housework and managing fear and stress.
We as a school have taken an approach of solidarity. The staff have all agreed to pay cuts, however, the actual amount depends upon what is available at the end of each month. They continue working perhaps harder than before, creating online presentations and learning new tools, brainstorming how to do what they do through a screen (especially with the little kids), with students & parents calling any hour of any day with class questions or just needing to hear a voice they trust. We've started online classes for parents of students under 8 years old, as most feel completely lost with how to accompany their kids through these important learning years, respecting their need to play, explore, disassemble, create huge messes, etc yet also set the stage for the 'academic' years to come. Tuitions have been cut in half well, but most families are not able to even pay that. They have the option to take their kids out of the 'private' school system and put them in a free State school, which would be the worst possible thing for everyone (the public school system in Peru is terrible on their best day in actual classrooms), and we at Semillas are committed to hanging on to everyone as long as we can, whether they can pay or not. We are sitting on a load of fixed costs as well, including our new 'virtual' reality which has required the purchase of computers and internet service for teachers and the loan (thankfully a no-interest one) on the recent construction of a big, beautiful building that we can't be in!
So we're sending out an SOS to people who have some connection to Semillas, to see if anyone out there would be interested in supporting the cause. We have 23 students currently who are not able to pay anything, and 5 more who have had their tuition reduced to "whatever they can pay, whenever they can pay it". A very formal contract indeed! Our 2020 reduced tuition is approximately $65 USD per month, $650 for the year. We thought it would be an interesting and rewarding challenge to ask for support based on this amount, imagining one person acting as a hub & in turn asking their friends to try to reach a collective amount covering a full or partial tuition for a student.