NEWSLETTER August 2022


August  2022      Volume 31    Number  1

Chile Roasting is in the air, the summer is winding down – it is time to start thinking about the 2022 – 2023 school year. This year we start small and expect to grow.  The students we start with will be the seeds of our community.  It is an exciting time.

To prepare for the year we will be at the school cleaning, fixing, and rejuvenating the buildings and grounds from Monday, August 29th to Saturday, September 3rd for “Work Week.” We will be ready to go at 10am each morning. This is a great time to get to know the faculty and fellow parents.  Moe will be cooking his traditional green chile pesole stew and vegan red chile potato stew.  Please join us to make a beautiful environment for our children. 

There are many  outdoor projects that we are excited about. The garden got so much rain this year, that it is exploding with carrots, parsley, arugula, and weeds. Cosmos and sunflowers have completely taken over one corner. We will be starting a new compost pile, repairing terraces, preparing an artichoke patch for the following year, and of course weeding. We are also getting ready for chickens!

We are happy to have Rose join our faculty.  Her bubbly personality and playful demeanor will be a wonderful addition to the school.  Rose is a former parent at our school who was in Santa Fe while completing two masters degrees at St. John’s College.  She spent the last six years applying what she learned from volunteering at The Tutorial School to her work with elders which now, in turn, informs her work with children.

This August, Iku and Moe went to the Summerhill Festival of Childhood which celebrated 100 years of Summerhill School’s continued existence.  The festival was held in Suffolk, England in conjunction with the 2022 International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC).  It was a great reunion of fellow educators from around the world as well as a chance to discuss and pay tribute to the school that was an inspiration for us all.  Moe and Iku gave a well attended talk about The Tutorial School and how working here changed them.

The Next IDEC will be in Nepal October 15th to the 21st, 2023 with trekking afterward.  How amazing would it be to take the whole school?  It is more than a year away, but we just wanted to plant a seed in your brains.

  • August 29 to September 3:  Work Week
  • September 6:  First day of school

Genuine beginnings begin within us even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.  William Bridges

From The Tutorial School to Columbia University – Jenny’s Journey

A lovely article by one of our first graduates, Jenny Mundy-Castle, a testament to the benefits of learning life skills. Years later we are still empowering and helping students to learn how to manage and steer their lives. These are valuable life lessons. We have also learned over the years that most schools do not require a GED. Our diploma is sufficient for acceptance. Homeschooling is so prevalent that universities and colleges have created alternative entry requirements.

While you’re there, check out Jenny’s other excellent articles.

School Outside

What does school look like? In the beginning of the global pandemic, we were not sure what school would look like for us. Last spring we switched to an online format. For the fall, we are trying something different. Considering all the information we had about the virus,  we decided to hold school outside. So far it has been working very well! We are wearing masks, socially distancing, and letting the wind blow all our troubles away.

Our style of education is largely relational. Our students are learning the soft skills involved with personal development and community building, so a lot of what we do here is socialize. Even with the limitations of group size and physical distance, we have noticed that we are better able to connect and support each other in person than we are online.

If you were to take a peek at one of our school days, you would see young people playing, relaxing, talking, and experiencing the natural progressions of light and weather throughout the day. This is what learning looks like.

Of course, we can do this because we are small, but also because the students are taking it seriously and acting responsibly. At The Tutorial School we practice being responsible and managing freedom. The results are amazing. Give children power and they learn to be empowered. Give children responsibility and they learn to act responsibly. Give children freedom and they learn to manage their lives with joy and passion.

The Tutorial School announces their adjusted 2020 fall semester starting August 11 at 10am.

We have figured out a way to open school relatively safely by staying outside.

We will only go into the building to use the bathroom or to get things.  No more than 2 people in the building at a time (3 if necessary,) and no more than one person in a room.  All the doors will be propped open and there will be a fan in the upper hallway.

Mostly, we will be outside, wearing masks and socially distancing.  We will not share food or objects.  We will be checking temperatures daily.  The faculty is being tested Thursday, August 6th.

We will be complying with the state guidelines for summer youth activities and according to the CDC, we will be in the lowest category of risk due to our precautions and the fact that we are a small group that does not mix with other groups and we are all from the same geographical area.

Most other schools are ones that have large groups of students indoors with little ventilation. If those were our circumstances, we would be closed this semester. However, we have a small group of students and a very large outdoor area. There is plenty of space here! That gives us a unique opportunity to offer school this semester.  This will be a great opportunity for our children to spend more time outside.

There is still some risk.  There is no way for this to be completely risk free, but we feel safe enough to try this.  You must decide for yourselves what level of risk you are willing to assume.  Please contact us with any questions or if you have any suggestions on how to make this safer.  We want to hear from you!

All of the students and faculty are excited for this new phase of the school.  We miss each other dearly.  We will continue outside until it is too cold, definitely not past November 19th, and then break until it is warm and safe enough to come back. The exact date for the spring semester and what that semester will look like are not yet determined.

Coronavirus update

Dear Parents,

We have been doing a lot of research and consulting and have reached the conclusion that we must close the school building for gatherings until, at least, April 6th.  This was a very difficult decision to make. I will explain our reasoning below. In the meantime, we are working on ways to stay connected online, perhaps All School Council meetings with Zoom.  We’re checking out different platforms for interacting as a school. Also I am proposing a global “Big Room” where teens around the world can go to be with one another. Iku, Maya, and Moe will be available for phone consults and chats with students and parents once spring break is over.

The Coronavirus is a novel virus, that is to say, it is new to humans. Therefore we will have no immunity until we are exposed or get vaccinated (and there is no vaccine available yet.)  Most people, especially young and healthy people, will be fine even if exposed. They may have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, as their bodies create their own immunity. The people who are more at risk for developing symptoms are older (over 65) or have weak immune systems or other health issues. Symptoms of this disease include fever, a dry cough, aches, and fatigue. For those who are severely affected this can lead to pneumonia with difficulty breathing, and, in the worst-case scenario, a syndrome of severe inflammation to the lungs called “Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome”.

Infection rates in a pandemic follow an exponential curve.  For us, that means we will experience very little activity until suddenly lots of people are infected all at once. The pandemic is already here: Be clear that most likely the number of infected people already is much larger than the number of confirmed cases.  Our hospitals and healthcare providers are gearing up to deal with this, but their capacity is limited especially here in NM. If our health system becomes overwhelmed with patients, like in Italy, then those who are seriously ill will be unable to get the supportive treatment they need.  The percentage of people who die will be based on how overwhelmed the healthcare system becomes in New Mexico, which depends on how many people get infected all at once. In the worst-case scenario, around one third of the population would become infected in a short period of time. From the severity data, roughly 14% of them will need hospitalization, and 5% will be critically ill and need specialized treatment.  For NM that would be quite devastating and the need would be much greater than what our health system could handle. 

If we take community action, we can, however, make an effort to avert this disaster.  We can slow down the rate of infection by staying home – social distancing. This is why we need to close the school. While children are not likely to become ill, they are at high risk to become carriers and spread the disease to others.  Fewer people getting infected at any given time, means fewer people needing specialized care for the relatively few spaces available. The time to do it is before the mass infection hits. Italy waited too long. Japan, on the other hand, closed their schools when they had 200 cases – that would be the equivalent of 3 cases in NM.  The sooner we practice social distancing the better.

New Mexico has been very proactive and aggressive in our approach, and we should be grateful for this. We are the third state to close our schools and regulate the size of large public functions, and our hospitals are preparing early to take on this crisis. Unfortunately, our neighboring states have not been as cautious, so while they spike in cases we will climb more slowly. As a result of this, there may be a delayed surge here in NM. But hopefully, as the weather warms, the virus will become less active. This is a historic moment; we have not experienced nor probably ever will again experience something like this in our lifetimes. We will get through this, but we are asking for your and your children’s sacrifice to help save lives.