From the Founder: With a great deal of pain, we have decided to close all services to the homeschool community (The Homeschool Center and The Umbrella). This in no way was an easy decision. I recall when I visited a democratic school the summer I opened The Living Water School and told them that I was going to offer the umbrella and the Homeschool Center for working parents. She strongly suggested that I don’t because this philosophy is so different and really needs our undivided attention. Many times others will not understand. Homeschool families many times may not support all of the freedom we want to give our kids.
At the time I did not see the difference so clearly. I felt that homeschooling families and the community of people forming The Living Water School both wanted a more free way to educate our children, and that we could find some type of common ground. I felt that the two communities could support each other as we both pursued alternative ways of educating our children. Well, we opened the school and opened the doors to the homeschool community, hoping to be a blessing to them as well. Although we are so thankful for the homeschool families that supported the school, we found that our mentalities were so different. We found ourselves straddling between two worlds. We often found ourselves in conflict as The LW Community stood for almost complete freedom and independence for the student and the homeschool community, although supportive of the nurturing and creative environment, sometimes failed to see the vision behind what we were seeking to do. I remember being warned that the homeschool community would see our school as only a social gathering and not an educational philosophy to also be respected.
We gave it one more try our second year, and still found ourselves struggling to meet the needs of a rapidly growing school and the needs of the homeschool community. We also found ourselves trying to explain our philosophy too much to those who are not open to the school’s stance in the first place. I think of the verse that says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). I also think of when the Word says, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25). It is time to focus on just The Living Water School. The past 2 years have been amazing and the community grew to really love the homeschool students who became a part of our family. However, we also found that time was lost as we tried to manage both programs. While meeting with a homeschool parent, we could be outside discovering nature with the Nature Club. While making sure homeschool students have done their work correctly (assigned by their parents) we could be making music with the music group. While being distracted by the needs of those who have not embraced the Sudbury Model or other child-directed philosophies, we could instead be having more deep conversations with students who marvel at all of life’s random questions.
We want more time in this free space to connect with and engage with our students. I think it really hit us, when we looked up and found our first graduate was leaving us. 2 years was too short! I wonder how much more time I could have spent with the one we call “Chaos” because of all the craziness she brings to the atmosphere. She truly brings LIFE to the school and she is now moving on to her own goals and dreams. I am trying to imagine the school without her this year! Our students are on a serious journey to discovering their God-given purpose, and we as a staff take our supportive role in that journey very seriously. It may seem messy, a bit chaotic, a bit unstructured, but if you look closely you can see things are starting to grow and bloom in each child. So, we turn our full attention to fulfilling the vision of the school.
Well here we are, getting ready to embark on year number 3 at The Living Water School. We have ordered our first set of FREE AT LAST by Daniel Greenberg of The Sudbury Valley School and we look forward to learning and growing more in this philosophy. We look forward to trying to comprehend and practice it within the context of being a primarily African American school (although we would SO love other races to join us here, so that we can truly live out the principles of a pluralistic democratic society). We look forward to placing this philosophy within the context of our Christian faith and how the Bible’s teachings on tolerance can be lived out. Now that we have taken some things off of our plates, we can focus. Now, we feel there will be even more time to grow and evolve into a safe haven where ALL children are respected by their fellow man and free to learn, grow and be whoever and however God created them to be!