While many of you are eagerly looking forward to a respite from school, I, on the other hand, just reread though all of the Open School's goals, values, and mission in anticipation of returning to the classroom. I can hardly wait!
Nearly every day I was out of the JCOS community (in a clinic, ambulance, ER, ICU, hospital bed, or at home) I was reflecting on how those Open School values play such an important role in my life as a human being. A few examples: Adapt to the world as it is and prepare for the world that might be? Yep. Continuous engagement in learning, exploration, and questioning in the process? Every day. Nurture and challenge the whole person? Constantly. Appreciation for the value of each person in our community through words, attitude, and actions? With my full heart and deepest appreciation.
I don't know how much you all know, so here is a brief summary behind my absences. I became very sick with an e coli bacteria that carried the shiga toxin. Within a few short days my body went into sepsis and I spent quite a bit of time in the ICU fighting the illness and helping my body recover from the toxins that were working very hard at shutting everything down (my bone marrow was completely suppressed, which was very alarming to everyone involved). I was sent home prematurely and, one week later, was brought by ambulance back to the ER and the ICU. The e coli bacteria we all harbor in our bodies took this opportunity to move in and take over, causing a new set of problems. I was sent home to recover again, but a follow up doctor's visit confirmed that now I was battling collateral intestinal damage. Additional treatments and testing showed no improvement and the last step of this prolonged process was a four hour surgery to remove seven inches of my lower intestine. Now I am focusing on recovering from the surgery by regaining core body strength and developing endurance. By the time January rolls around my only restrictions will be "don't lift too much weight or do anything stupid to rip open your abdomen" and since those are rules I generally live by anyway, I am returning to Open with no reservations.
There are some business items I want you to know and think about over the winter break.
1. The Mandatory Trip Meeting for the Bridges' Trip has been scheduled for Gabrielle's room on Friday, January 9th at 3:45 PM. Guardians who are unable to attend this meeting will receive a print-out of the meeting's slides which you will read, sign, and return. More on this later.
2. When looking at the trip supply list (if you haven't gotten it yet you will get it on the 9th) you will see that a lot of the items are "mandatory" (toothbrush, hats, swim-suit, underwear). Over the winter break I want you to hunt (thrift stores are ideal) for the following items that are not only "mandatory" but are also obligatory, compulsory, essential, indispensable, and required.
a) snow-pants that fit (your children will especially appreciate that this is checked beforehand) and can be worn over jeans or long-underwear
b) water-resistant, water-proof gloves (If possible, bring two pairs, and make sure they don't have an annoying lining that will be pulled out and inverted the first time your child takes them off because it will take up the entire lunchtime to try and stuff them back together.)
c) snow shoes or hiking boots that have excellent traction on ice (My boots last year were so so cute but unusable because they couldn't handle the icy hill we have to walk up and down every time we went to a meal.)
d) multiple socks that are made from wool or a synthetic insulating blend (Wet cotton socks/gloves might seem fine the first time you are out building a snow fort, but after lunch when they are cold and wet they can not only be useless but potentially hypothermic.)
e) daypack (Not the ones with the super thin straps that are meant to carry a helium balloon. Make sure the day pack is comfortable to wear for at least an hour carrying a water bottle, spare socks/gloves, and a swimsuit.)
Our Bridges' Trip is scheduled for January 21, 22, 23. We will be taking a school bus.
When we get back from our trip it will be time to meet and talk about the rest of your child's sixth grade year. We call this program "Bridges" because we want to help in the transition from child to adolescent, from guided to self-directed. We will have a mandatory parent meeting covering second semester foci and SDL dates/expectations that will, hopefully, answer any questions you and your child have been pondering. This meeting has been scheduled for Friday, January 30, at 3:45 PM in Gabrielle's room.
I wish you all a healthy and relaxing winter break!