This letter concerns the closing of Running River School as of May 25, 2018. It is a portion of the letter written to parents, but is the best way to let others know of our closing.
January 4, 2018
Dear Friends of Running River,
When I started Running River in 2001, I had a vision of creating a model school that would be part of a larger system of educating parents and children from pre-birth through teen years. Many of you have heard me speak of this vision. I had already been an educator for 22 years as a public school high school teacher, a teacher and director of a private K-6 school, director of Homestar, a facilitator of parent workshops, a writer and radio show host of “Parenting Solutions.” These experiences, as well as my own personal growth, built a fire in me to build a radical new model of education. I saw many wonderful schools, but none of them were bringing together all the elements necessary to truly educate the whole child, and none of them had a comprehensive parent education program that would create a community of parents, teachers and children – a vital ingredient to build the “village” that children long for and thrive in. I also saw that the main “ills” of our culture (depression, stress, health problems, relationship problems, violence, and a profound sense of meaninglessness) were seeping down into younger and younger people – and that education was going to have to understand and address the roots of these problems, to prevent children from being subsumed by these ills once they left the protective arms of their parents.
The original vision of Running River included the line – “to transform our culture through a new model of education.” We believe it is education that needs to take a much stronger lead in changing our culture. I have poured my love, time, energy, creativity, money and total commitment into Running River for 17 years in an attempt to put this piece of the vision into action. It has been an incredible journey for all of those who have participated – the teachers, parents and children. We have come a long way from our humble beginnings of Megan, myself and 10 kindergarten and first graders. We have worked hard to deliver an exceptional curriculum, bring our philosophy to life, and build a solid, professional, dedicated staff. It made us all more connected to ourself, others and the planet. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Running River has walked its talk. But the truth is, it still falls short of allowing the bigger vision to flourish. It is to that bigger vision we will now turn our attention.
There comes a time in our life when we have to make hard decisions that we know will affect many people. This is one of those times. I love this school and feel a deep sadness to let it go, and to bring that sadness to all of you as well. I don't know if I will ever be able to express in words the gratitude I feel for every parent, every child, and every teacher who's ever walked through the doors and spent some of their life at Running River School. Everyone has given. Everyone has struggled. Everyone has tried their best. We all have walked away enriched. Enriched by what we have received, enriched by participating in a community that wants the best for children and for ourselves. Running River has changed people’s lives. It has transformed how we look at education. It has opened us to new possibilities and helped us become better people. I have said before that the very first founding families of Running River are still friends and still gather together. We have formed bonds here that will last a lifetime. There are children here who very likely will know each other the rest of their lives, as well as parents. Running River isn’t just an experiential school for children, Running River is an experience that changes all of us.
I had sincerely hoped that when the time came for me to move on, Running River could continue without me. At this time, I don’t see that as something I can make happen, but if there are parents who want to find a new director and see if they can continue Running River, I will meet with you and go over all the factors of what would need to happen for that to be a possibility. We are willing to help you in every way we can through the rest of the school year to help make that a reality, but we cannot carry that burden on our own. Maybe you all pulling together could make it work. We would love to see that happen for the children.
We still have 5 months of school left. I know that the teachers will continue to give 100%, and that the children will continue to receive the best education that Running River offers. It is important to finish out the year with joy, and to make the most of the time that we have left. It is not easy to close the doors on a school that tries to do so much and is so filled with love. I hope you all can understand the importance of me following my inner directive and my deepest passion that has been alive in me since I was a child. I could want almost nothing more for any child I've ever taught than to contact their inner passion, to develop the skills to bring it to fruition and then to stay true to their own path. Joseph Campbell wrote: “The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves.” I believe that is what the teachers of Running River have attempted to do with all of your children. For however long they have been here, this seed has been planted.
My greatest concern is for the children and how we help them meet this change, and accept this situation. For all of our sake let's bond together to complete this experience in the very best way possible and model for the children how to face change, uncertainty, fear and even anger. Their eyes and their hearts will all be on us as they look to us for guidance. “Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” If we can find compassion in our hearts for what each and everyone of us is going to go through with this change, we will be opening ourselves to accept the the truth about life that nothing is permanent, nothing is secure, and everything changes. This is a deep lesson for all of us and somehow we need to help our children grow up to understand this reality. Let’s finish out our year with joy, heart, hard work, and being committed members of our community. We're all in this together!
With deep respect, gratitude and love,