Today's blog post is dedicated to thanking all the folks who put their time and energy into making the Halloween Jamboree a success.
One of our DRC parents, Valerie Kirkpatrick, suggested the idea of an October jamboree. After conferring with her Dad, Ron Kirkpatrick, and her brother, Josh, they were ready to go. Ron got his band together for possibly the last time, and they played till the Canton-VFW was rocking! And then Josh played with his band. What a thrill to have these NoCo musical legends play to benefit Deep Root Center.
Thank you, Ron, Valerie, & Josh Kirkpatrick, Carter Houk, George Dodds, Don Woodcock, Jay Seymour, and all the guys in Josh's band. We are deeply grateful for your music and your support.
The musical talent was augmented by DRC's own Chris Raymo, his son Christian, and long-time DRC member Avery Latimer, and then my husband, Mike Corse, who finished the evening with a few original tunes. Thank you to all of them for sharing their gifts with us.
I am deeply grateful to DRC parents and Board members for their many efforts – they heard the call and responded with purpose.
Special thanks to Susan Foster and Tiffanie Jacob, two of our parents and board members, for contributing items to the Silent Auction, 'womanning' the entrance table, and generally helping everything flow smoothly throughout the day. And gratitude to parent Rachel Colton for running our concession.
Thank you to our DRC Kiddos for baking items for the bake sale, their willingness to share their creative talents by putting their work out there for sale, for offering their face painting skill, and all of the lifting and carrying and general "grunt work" needed to put the entire gig together.
This would not be complete without mentioning our dedicated staff, the heart and soul of DRC, who don't get paid nearly enough for all they do. Karen Gagne, our beloved lead staff person, and mentor at DRC-East in Massena, spent hours connecting and engaging with people and businesses to acquire items for the Silent Auction. Because of her efforts, we had over 35 items - many of which were hotly contested. She also took all of these photos!
And Chris Raymo, our Canton Staff person who goes above and beyond every single day - quietly taking care of our kiddos - as well as the facility (broken doors, clogged drains, hanging a swing, and building a sandbox, among many other things).
Thanks again to the businesses and individuals who donated items to the silent auction. We are grateful for your support. The winners of all the "loot," if not already, will be contacted later today.
Thank you to the Canton VFW for allowing us to take over your space for the day. It was the perfect venue for our event.
And finally, thank you to everyone who came out, played in the kid zone, listened and danced, and contributed your hard-earned dollars to DRC. We rely on our community to stay alive, and you all came through beautifully.
The DRC October 50/50 Raffle will be drawn on Halloween. Tickets are still available - please get in touch if you would like to purchase one.
Our fundraising efforts will continue through the year - stay tuned for our next event. In the meantime, you can contribute through our Omella donation page, sponsor a DRC kid, or send a check to DRC, 48 Riverside Dr., Canton, NY 13617. Thank you!
The adult role in a self-directed learning environment (as mentioned two weeks ago) is totally different from traditional or even progressive school settings. This is one of the main reasons I don't own (accept) the title "teacher." On the other hand, I know other colleagues in the Liberated Learner Network who happily embrace it - therefore, this is definitely a personal preference.
Just plain Maria is fine - but sometimes, they call me mom or, more recently, "grandma!" (What??? I mean - I am old enough to be their grandparent - but OUCH!)
By spending my days listening closely to their stories and (sometimes) non-verbal cues, I provide the resources they need to pursue their interests and aspirations. Together, we create a safe, often loud and chaotic, richly diverse environment filled with funny, serious, creative, curious, fiercely independent, playful, shy, and colorful personalities - all excited about learning.
I am a facilitator - a direct support person - the one adult they know for a fact will always have their back. They know I trust them unequivocally to make the choices best for them, and they trust me - to be their sounding board, guide, and champion.
For example, this year, we have one teen - who suffers from severe anxiety to the point that they are (mostly) mute and spend their days in the office away from the other kids - reading and petting Digby. In the beginning, this situation made me feel really uncomfortable. I felt ineffectual in my inability to help. Then, a few weeks ago, I received a note from their mom thanking me for providing that safe space for her child, and she didn't know what they would do if it wasn't for DRC.
Now, I engage with them while I work on projects and admin tasks by chatting occasionally without anticipating a response - simply letting them be without judgment or external expectations. It is what they need - at this moment.
On Friday, I asked this teen if they would like to draw Halloween scenes on some of the treat bags we are handing out at the Jamboree next week. At the end of the day, they handed me two bags with drawings worthy of framing and hanging in a gallery. Holy Moly! This kid is talented! They beamed when I told them just that.
On my way home, I stopped at the SLU Brewer Bookstore to purchase a sketchpad, a good quality drawing pencil, and a kneadable eraser - that I will present to them on Monday. I can't wait to see the beauty they produce with those simple tools.
Oftentimes, we have absolutely no idea what impact we have on the young people we spend our days with. I can only hope they see (understand) their potential as clearly as I do.
And I guess at the end of the day - that defines my role best - trusting, providing the spark of hope and optimism, and sitting back and watching the magic happen before my eyes.
Halloween Jamboree - Oct. 28th - 12 - 6 at the Canton VFW - Gouverneur St.
Join DRC Staff, Board, & Families for amazing music featuring local legends: Ron, Josh & Valerie Kirkpatrick, George Dodds, Carter Houk, Don Woodcock, and Jay Seymour, as well as many musical friends including DRC's Chris Raymo and his son.
Listen to the music while your kids have a blast in the Halloween Fun Zone with arts & crafts, games, toys, face painting & treat bags for the first 75 kids to arrive. Costumes are welcome (for all ages)!
This is a fundraising event for Deep Root Center with donation at the door, food concession, bake sale, silent auction, craft fair featuring the DRC Etsy Shop Creators, 50/50 Raffle, & DRC Swag. Contact maria@deeprootcenter for more info.
There will be a jam session and opportunity for Karaoke between 6-9.
Please share this event widely! Hope to see you there!
Photos from a busy week at both Centers!
A non-coercive environment where people follow their interests is the hallmark of self-directed education. There is no prescribed curriculum or grand plan. Each child, with unique interests and aspirations, determines what they will explore each day. Curiosity, creativity, and the joy of discovery through play are celebrated.
But if kids play all day, what are they learning?
This question comes up often because play is considered frivolous while work is honored. If it isn’t hard you aren’t “doing” anything and it certainly isn’t worth your time.
We know that being forced to learn something that holds no interest through rote exercises does not guarantee that it is retained. Studies indicate compulsory exercises in memorization of colors, shapes, letters, etc., at a young age (preschool) are detrimental and hinder later learning. But the same also goes for the rest of us. If something is not enjoyable, stressful, or painful – our brains have a mechanism that shuts it down.
Learning is natural. Kids want to learn. The best way we (adults) can flat-line any learning experience is to butt in and make it a “teachable moment.”
Back to the question - what are they learning if we don’t provide a structured compulsory curriculum?
These attributes will allow anyone to gather the essential information they need to thrive - in this world. And what one person considers necessary is not universal. At the core of this philosophy is that we celebrate each unique individual with their remarkable skills, talents, interests, and needs.
Next week, I will discuss adults and their role in a self-directed learning environment.
More good news on the fundraising front: Thank you to American Legion Post #79 in Massena for their $500 donation to support our kids.
The Oct. 28th Jamboree is coming together! You will see "blurbs" about it in local papers and events pages. Besides amazing live music performed by local legends, we will have a Halloween fun zone for the kids with games, toys, face-painting, arts & crafts, and treats. Costumes are welcome!
This is a fundraising event with donations accepted at the door. There will be a silent auction, food concession, 50/50 raffle, bake sale, and a craft fair featuring items from our Etsy Store creators.
Please plan on joining us at the Canton VFW!
A few photos from this week:
Over the next few weeks, I will focus on self-directed, free-range educational philosophy - unless I get distracted (pissed off) by something and go off-topic to rant about it (like that ever happens).
Today, I start with trust.
Every child is capable (period - full-stop). Trusting that they each know themselves thoroughly and understand what they need to thrive, with the ability to seek those things out and follow through, is the foundation on which self-directed learning philosophy is built.
Our culture leads us to believe the opposite. It is ingrained in our practices and system. Kids are empty vessels meant to be filled up by adults who are keepers of knowledge. They are lazy and will do the very least they can get away with and will only do something for a reward or to avoid punishment.
Without that inherent trust in children - education becomes teacher-led, not self-directed. Though many are Progressive Educational programs, they are not the same. ( Peter Gray, a developmental psychologist, explains this concept beautifully here in this article from Psychology Today.)
This is about the point I hear all the "buts."
Weekly Creative Meditation
This week we had a few pieces of good news in terms of our fundraising efforts.
Thank you to the Potsdam Walmart for funding our Community Grant Request with a $500.00 check. We are grateful for their continued support of our programs.
Save the date: Oct. 28th from 12-6 (or until we are done) - DRC families will be holding a Jamboree at the Canton VFW to benefit DRC.
Featuring: Ron Kirkpatrick & George Dodds - with Josh & Valerie Kirkpatrick, Carter Houk, Fiddle champion, Don Woodcock, Jay Seymour, and several other NoCo musicial legends, including DRC's very own Chris Raymo and his son Christian.
The event will include a food concession, DRC kids and their Etsy store creations, a silent auction, and a Halloween Party for the younger set including a "Trunk or Treat" opportunity, face painting, an arts and crafts table and the opportunity to play with Lego, wooden blocks, and assorted toys.
If you have something you would be willing to donate for our silent auction - please let us know.
We are looking forward to partying with our NoCo friends and raising some serious dollars for DRC!
And finally some photos from the week.
Competition is the backbone of society. Upon close observation, every aspect of capitalistic ideology is founded on contest. Bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, and the most compliant wins - the game, the reward, resources, wealth, and, possibly more importantly, the social status -closely intertwined with wealth, power, privilege, and entitlement.
Life (itself) becomes a contest of who you know and, along with it, the prestige of influence. This ultimately leads to inequities (on all levels). And is, what I believe, the most blatantly obvious - but under-identified/acknowledged symptom of society.
Why this thought process (rant) - now?
Frankly, it is always simmering just below the surface, emitting a low-pitched hum of annoyance. However, it was brought to the forefront (and became a frustrated scream) when I learned last Friday that another grant I had spent hours writing was not funded. Because, by promising to serve whoever needs us no matter the amount they can pay, we need the dollars for everything (including basic operations, not a "special" program or project), which means we cannot be sustainable without an influx of money. Yes, it was another punch in the gut - disappointing and discouraging - on many levels.
Not the least of which is the realization that I am out there (in good faith) battling for "our" kids (student members) every single day. And because they (and their families), for the most part, are the ones who don't have wealth, privilege, entitlement, influence, or power and do not comply, they are the traumatized pawns of a system that does not work for them.
DRC means the world to these kids, quite literally. It is the only place where they have been accepted as themselves within a diverse community and where they may even begin to imagine a positive future while exploring their interests within our safe, supportive environment.
With the failure of this latest grant - the most frustrating feeling is understanding that, to the detriment of these kids (currently 48), we have not found a way to be financially stable - even after nearly ten years and full rosters - with a solid reputation in the community - simply because we are forced to participate in an inequitable competition for dollars.
Weekly Creative Meditation
For the above reason - we are in full-on fundraising mode. If you believe that DRC is an asset in the community and provides a valuable service - you can help keep us alive in the following ways:
Make a one-time or monthly donation.
Sponsorship - share this opportunity with any person, business, or organization in the NoCo who is dedicated to supporting their local community.
Volunteer your time - we are always looking for folks to share their interests and passions with our kiddos, or if you have fundraising skills - we would appreciate your hands-on help.
Purchase items from our Amazon Wishlist and they will get sent directly to us.
Order DRC swag from our Printify shop.
If you frequent a restaurant and believe they would be willing to have a DRC day where a percentage of the "take" would come to us - please consider asking them if they would be open to it.
Plan on attending our upcoming Jamboree, on Oct. 28th at the VFW - presented by one of our families - more info to follow next week.
This past week we had limited attendance at both Centers due to sickness - but the kiddos who were there were fully engaged in conversation, activities, and projects that fed their (and our) spirit.
Note of Days of Operation Change at DRC-East: Now open Tuesday - Friday, from 9-3, each week.
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