Mountainside Montessori parachute was created by our Adolescent class (7-9th graders). They decided to implement the color wheel they had recently studied, then each took on a section. We are a small 18 month-15years Montessori school in Marshall, Virginia with eight adolescent students. Beyond their academic program, our Adolescents run a farm and several other businesses. They raise layer hens and recently raised four heritage pigs. One of the pigs was raised for a farm-to-table meal they planned, prepared, and served with the support of a local restaurant with all proceeds going to their program. The other three pigs the students have raised for meat for buyers within our community. The Adolescents are responsible for all aspects of their businesses including decisions, marketing, finances and tracking, and coming to do animal chores on weekends. At Mountainside we are committed to connecting to students with nature and providing the space for them to be independent, responsible learners who discover their passions and become positive global citizens.
Mountainside's parachute will be displayed this weekend on the National Mall as part of the Zero Hour Youth March. Here is its special back story from our Adolescent Guide, Theo:
One of the gifts of Facebook is reconnecting with people from earlier in your life and discovering the amazing work people are doing in the larger world. I came across a post about Parachutes for the Planet organized by Mother Earth Project. My students were eager to participate in the project so we reached out. We were to create a twelve foot diameter "parachute" to be displayed for Earth Day 2018 on the National Mall. We used a canvas fabric which we had to transform from a rectangle into a circle and designed and painted our message regarding the earth and climate change.
The website had asked people to contact Mother Earth Project (MEP) if they were committed to creating a parachute. I did this and realized the co-founder was a peer from high school, Barton Rubenstein. Barton and I quickly reconnected through email and he was excited to receive our finished parachute complete with photos of various stages of its creation and a drone video when completed. MEP has been receiving parachutes from all over the world. They did not meet their original goal of obtaining two hundred parachutes to display on the National Mall for Earth Day so they have rescheduled the display for the middle of October 2018. Some parachutes, however, including ours, will be part of the Zero Hour Youth March this Saturday on July 21, 2018 on the National Mall in DC.
Our parachute has gotten a fair amount of attention on the Mother Earth Project Facebook page as part of their cover photo (https://www.facebook.com/motherearthprojectmep/). Barton has also taken Mountainside's parachute back to our high school where he talked about his work as an artist and as co-founder of Mother Earth Project. Our parachute looks forward to hopefully traveling the world to be displayed along with others. It is a small world when these types of connections happen but also a fragile world which we must be committed to caring for and protecting.
Sustainable Actions in this Community
At Mountainside Montessori, which has students from 18 months - 9th grade, every day students are outside and interacting with their natural environment. This is central to Montessori philosophy and each classroom has their own garden they design, plant and tend to. Each classroom also has the ability to outdoor work every day. The adolescents (7-9th grades who I teach) run the farm. We raise layer hens for eggs, turkeys and pig for meat and goats for lawn mowing. The money raised supports the adolescents educational program. Students are responsible for all aspects of the farm and businesses (physical work, daily chores including weekends, decision making, financial tracking, choices around spending etc). Part of the money they make supports three trips each year (beginning of the year Odyssey camping trip, 9th grade international trip - last year we went to South Africa and this year they are talking about Ecuador - and a week long end of the year trip). Students plan and coordinate all aspects of their trip. The adolescents do a fair amount of community work in our local community as well. They are a remarkable group of students who are developing a wealth of life skills along with their academics.
"The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind"