Monday, March 14, 2016

Why I Schoola (or, a former delinquent waxes poetic on the subject that saved her)

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It seems maybe a little counterintuitive to start out a post about school by admitting I was never a big fan of school. Or at least, traditional school. Until the fourth grade I attended a Montessori-type community school that was, in a word, magical. We learned how to cook, took weekly field trips to farms (and once to the cemetery across the street, which is only just now striking me as maybe a little weird), and never once saw homework... or desks, for that matter. I remember once even begging for homework and how we all glamorized school busses, thinking they must be so much more fun than the daily car pool lead by our Birkenstocked parents. And then, in the interest of preparing me a bit early for the shock of high school and societal norms, I was plunked into the melee of public school in the 4th grade. It wasn't pretty. Turns out, homework is awful and so are school busses. What ensued were approximately 9 years of cringe-worthy moments, social awkwardness on full display. I was the 'homeschool kid' without actually having been home schooled (no offense meant to you actual home school kids out there, frankly my younger self was always jealous). My one saving grace? The art room. Always the art room. Whether I was in elementary school, junior high, or high school, my art teachers always just seemed a bit kinder than the rest. More open to different kinds of learning, more accepting of us weirdos. In high school, the art room was where you could find me the majority of the time, thanks to an art teacher who could usually be depended on to write me a note for skipping math. And history. And chem. Needless to say, my grades in everything, save for art, photography, and literature were abysmal, and I honestly didn't care. I'd known what I wanted to do with my life since I was five and presented with an easel and some paints, and later when I discovered my mother's Canon AE-1. Now, lest you think I'm proud of my awful grades and tendency to skip class, let me make myself perfectly clear: I'm not. But those art rooms and the teachers who inhabited them were a saving grace for me, and others like me. Those whose thinking didn't quite fit in with our peers and the academically-focused, small town school we attended. Without those art programs, however measly and cobbled together they may have been, and the teachers who encouraged me to look at art colleges, I can honestly tell you I'm not sure where I'd be. Most certainly not where I am now.

The power of art in young people's lives is something I will always believe in, because it gave me the ability to believe in myself.

Unfortunately, it's all too common for these programs to get the short end of the stick, art programs cut, phys-ed and recess taking a backseat to standardized test prep, music budgets slashed, and field trips on the endangered species list. Which is why I'm excited to be partnering with Schoola today on their #WhyISchoola campaign. If you're unfamiliar, Schoola is one part online second-hand store, one part fundraising platform, with 40% of proceeds benefiting schools - specifically targeting programs such as art, music, phys-ed, and field trips (read the full run down of how it works here). Programs that often get cut. Programs that often make an enormous difference in children's and teen's lives. Lives like mine.
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To participate, all you have to do is request a bag from Schoola and they'll send one off to you, postage paid. All you have to do is fill it with the clothing you'd like to donate and drop it off at the post office. You can even choose the school you'd like the proceeds to benefit, or you can ask Schoola for suggestions. I chose to have my donations go towards the Malala Fund, to benefit education for girls around the world, since my old Montessori school has since been shuttered. If you don't have anything to donate, you can also choose to shop on Schoola -- ModCloth recently donated a huge collection of brand new (and super cute) dresses -- and 40% of your purchase will go towards schools/the Malala fund.
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With spring cleaning in full effect (we did a major overhaul this past weekend), now is the perfect time to fill a bag for Schoola to help ensure programs like art, drama, phys-ed, music, and field trips receive the funding they so rightly deserve and so desperately need. If you participate, be sure to share on social using the hashtag #WhyISchoola to be entered to win one of five $50 shopping credits to Schoola (check here for deets).
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The dress I'm wearing was kindly sent to me by Schoola, stay tuned for a full outfit post on Wednesday. Opinions are my own.

1 comments: said...

I left my high school art teaching position to stay at home with my now 17 month old baby. I loved hanging out with high school aged kids all day and getting to make beautiful things with them. It was a huge shift for me to leave that career, but we felt strongly that having the time to stay home would be the best thing for her. We've been living the Montessori lifestyle since she joined us and I can't wait to experience an actual school through her.

Kudos for this awesome post, I'll definitely get behind this movement!

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