Writings for Lakeside School

Fairies placing a spell on the Figgy PuddingBoth of the writings here came out of my relationship with a wonderful place, Lakeside School in Los Gatos, California. Both of my daughters attended Lakeside from kindergarten through sixth grade. One of the most inspiring people I've met in my life is the kindergarten teacher at Lakeside - Anna RainvilleAnna Rainville. Anna's mother, Betty Peck, was also a remarkable kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Rainville and Mrs. Peck create a sense of the magical that stays with their lucky students throughout their lives. Anna's work is influenced by Waldorf and the British Infant's School. But her personal touches are everywhere in the classroom and activities. For example, every year her present and former students are invited to the crowning of the May Queen and to dance the maypole in Mrs. Peck's rose garden. Anna has designed a ceremony for kindergarten graduation that culminates in the flight of a flock of white doves, one for each student. I first met Anna Rainville when Hilary was in kindergarten. At that time Rachel Strickland and I were working on a project at the Apple Vivarium called "Coyote in the Classroom." We were exploring kids'; narrative intelligence and how it might be used to design better programming languages for them. Anna invited us in to her classroom and we all worked together with the kids. We decided to focus on Native American "coyote" stories to learn more about kids; ideas of story form and structure. We used drama, cooking, storytelling, pictograms, drawing, and painting throughout several weeks of "coyote" explorations. This work eventually morphed into the "Placeholder" project that Rachel and I designed at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Coyote People is the speech I was fortunate enough to be able to give to Hilary's class - the coyote kids - when they graduated from sixth grade. An annual winter holiday play is also a standard feature at Lakeside, thanks to Anna Rainville. Over the years that my children were there, I was able to help Anna a bit with the writing of the annual play. But I was always shy of participating too much at school for fear of embarrassing my kids. "Oh Mom," they'd say, "please don't come to school." Whenever I saw them there, they'd roll their eyes. But this year, with Brooke in junior high, I was free to get as involved as I liked. Anna let me loose on the script and I was also able to direct the play! Anna wanted the play to be set in a Medieval manor at Christmastime. As I worked with the scene, I found myself drifting in a mildly Pythonesque direction. The play turned out to be A Tale of Figgy Pudding, inspired no doubt by the old tale of Johnny Cake. Working with the sixth graders was heaven for me, and I know I will have to find ways to do it again, despite a certain amount of irritation with my personal style on the part of the principal.

For KidsBrenda LaurelTau Zero