Chandra Best: K-1st Grade Teacher

I have always felt strongly that there should be alternatives to a traditional school model. Traditional schooling works for some kids, but not others, and I am continually inspired by the more natural, organic learning process that happens in schools like Running River. As a teacher, I love watching this magical process unfold, learning about each individual child's strengths and challenges, and doing my best to facilitate and be a witness to their growth. I feel especially honored to work with young children just beginning in school, and to have the opportunity to be a part of this magic right at the start.

Kindergarten and first grade are such precious years in our children's lives, and these years of school should be active, exciting and full of discovery. I love Running River's focus on nurturing all aspects of a child's development, and I feel that a K/1 classroom should embody this goal. Building a sense of community and strong relationships in the classroom is paramount, so that children feel safe to both be themselves and try on as many hats as they want. Daily, student-led class meetings help to create this safe space, as well as a culture of openness, inclusion and respect. This foundation is brought into every aspect of work in the classroom from art to math to literacy to play.

I appreciate Running River's focus on children's connection to the self. I believe that children need to be aware of their own capacity to be centered in themselves, and that this awareness can lead to stronger, more balanced interactions and a greater sense of well being. As a teacher I try to model this balance and help my students find it in themselves. I also feel that this connection is fostered by uninterrupted time spent in the outdoors, and love that this is a fundamental value at Running River.

After graduating from college in Boston, I taught at private schools in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington for a few years before moving to Colorado to learn meditation and yoga at Shoshoni Yoga Ashram. Though I knew I truly loved teaching, I needed to learn how to connect inside myself to a place of peace and balance, no matter what was happening around me. I lived in the ashram for 12 years, and during that time I was lucky to teach at Running River from 2007-2009. For the past year my family and I have been on the road, living in our van as we drive through Mexico and Central America. We have been learning about other cultures and how big the world is outside of our little bubble in Colorado. Though life led me in other directions for a few years, I am very excited to be returning to Colorado and Running River to continue growing and learning with this inspiring community.

Education

 Tufts University- B.A. in English and Child Development, 2000

Professional Experience

K/1 class, Lead Teacher: Running River School, Lafayette, CO 2007-2009

1st Grade, Lead Teacher: The Annie Wright School, Tacoma, WA 2002-2004

2/3 Grade, Resident Teacher: University Child Development School, Seattle, WA 2001-2002

Teaching Assistant: The Center for Talented Youth, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 2001

Program Associate: Citizen Schools After School Program, Boston, MA 2001