I have been the K-1-2 Open Classroom teacher at Blanche Reynolds since 1993. I love teaching in Open Classroom where children have a right to joyous learning and their interests and social emotional development are central. I love that we emphasize creative hands-on learning as well as academic excellence. I have been very fortunate that my life choices and experiences have prepared me for the unique qualifications of being a progressive education teacher within the Open Classroom and sharing a love of collaborative learning with the students, parents, and teachers of our learning community.
My early years of life were influenced by a love for hands-on learning in science, nature, the fine and performing arts, as well as the critical thinking fostered and encouraged by my family. My love for democracy, justice, and folk music was inspired by the culture of my upbringing, the 60’s and 70’s.
During my high school and college years, I gained several valuable experiences which would later inform my work at Open Classroom. I worked as a muralist, book illustrator, designer and builder, folk musician and theater performer. While attending U.C Berkeley, I lived in a 1500 member student cooperative and engaged in community decision making and planning, prepared meals for 50 to 150 people at time, installed gardens, and worked as a Conflict Mediation Coordinator. My college years also included studies in political and social theory , history, environmental sciences, creative writing, the fine arts, computer graphics, theater and set design, landscape horticulture, architectural and ecological design for sustainable homes, communities, and cities.
I later graduated with Honors from the University of California Berkeley in an individually designed major which emphasized the history and processes of democratic education and communities. Upon completion of my undergraduate work, I enjoyed and learned from many multi-cultural experiences as I traveled with my wife, Rosaleen, across the U.S., backpacked through portions of Europe and traveled the perimeter of India, Nepal and Thailand. While in Asia, we lived and worked in Japan for a year where we lived near my brother. We got to know our Japanese family members while teaching English and learning about Japanese culture.
Upon returning to the United States, I became the Arts Program Coordinator for Girl’s Inc. and organized all community arts events, as well as facilitated a chorus, sculpture, painting, and drama class for a year before entering into an intensive teacher education program at UCSB. In 1993, I was awarded my multiple clear credential and Masters of Education from the University of Santa Barbara’s Teacher Education program. A UCSB professor most familiar with progressive education recommended me to the Open Classroom program.
In my first years of Open Classroom, I took a broad range of classes in the practices of Lindamood Bell, a clinical model for working with students that have varying degrees of visual, auditory, or conceptual processing difficulties. I have continued to adopt the valuable methods of Lindamood to the classroom along with the best of many other learning processes and methods. Joining Open Classroom also allowed me to passionately explore progressive math education, most recently inspired by the innovations of the Singapore math movement which has been helping to generate very talented mathematicians in Asia and now in the U.S.
After my first six years in Open Classroom, I started a family with my wife Rosaleen. First came our daughter in 1999 and then our son in 2003. Raising a family has continued to inspire and inform my teaching further and gives me a much deeper appreciation for parenting and the invaluable role parents can play within the Open Classroom. I am also quite grateful that both my children have been able to thrive in open education settings.
In 2006, I became the Open Classroom Head Teacher and worked in close collaboration with visionary parents, teachers, and administrators to sustain the quality traditions, theory, and practice of progressive education within the Open Classroom. In 2009, I rotated out of the Head Teacher position to become a program consultant and K-5 Lead Teacher to help further with deeper levels of the school’s organization.
Our parents and teachers have continued to evolve a strong vibrant learning community. We continue to embrace innovations in education that integrate the arts and technology, and explore global perspectives while embracing student and family interests and cultures. We continue to respond to and prepare for the rapidly changing world while helping our students become flexible, resourceful, and passionate life-long learners.
After all these years, I still wake-up like our students, excited and “wanting to go to school” to engage with our learning community of parents, students, and teachers and to see just how far we can take our new discoveries and inspirations!