Love Times Three

This February was a month full of love with three events: 1)  Valentine’s Day celebration of the teens’  love for their furry babies and friends, 2) North Star Alumni over the age of 30 sharing where they are now, 3) Meeting education dreamer and builder, Chris Balme online.  

What a parade of talents it was celebrating the day of hearts with Abot Tala’s “significant others” – our pets.  The Love Pawever fundraiser was organized totally by the teens themselves for the benefit of animals affected by Typhoon Odette and for the Abot Tala High Clubs!

With wonderful music, hosts, improvisation, more music, pet fashion show and more, this proudly teen-led activity was able to reach their target of raising P26,150 for two causes.   They originally expected and targeted much lower than that but was pleasantly surprised and grateful for the immense support of family and friends.

The Animal Welfare Club of Abot Tala High partnered with Lara’s Ark, an animal shelter and sanctuary sharing the joy of rescues. The mentor-led clubs like the Musician’s Circle and Debate Club will also be happily helped by this brave and admirable initiative.

Here’s the link to the show: Love Pawever

More than twenty years ago, Ken Danford started North Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Massachusetts. It is the model for Liberated Learner centers including Abot Tala.  Many people are curious what happens to self-directed learners and this video event gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who went through North Star.

Alison Snieckus of Princeton Learning Cooperative picked out these points from the what the alumni shared:

  • All of the panelists commented on how being a homeschooler during their teen years is an important part of their identity and that it serves them well in their adult life.
  • They all talked about having fun, describing the specifics of the particular fun with laughter and glee, and then Ellen summed it up eloquently: having had fun in her teenage years is something she deeply values, and, sadly for our world, it comes up as a unique experience among her adult friends.
  • Kiva describes her experience in Ken’s psychology and social issues classes. The stories are so great, I don’t want to give it away with too much detail. My high-level takeaways written in educationalese: non-coercive classes that include gentle encouragement have more impact than we teachers imagine, and the flexibility of our model such that we can create just the right opportunities for kids stays with them.
  • Ellen, with all of her wisdom and 20+ years of experience with SDE, talks about falling into the “what about math” trap, and then describes how she pulls herself out. It’s priceless, literally!

Abot Tala is turning three this April 1, 2022.  Some years from today, Abot Tala will come up with a video like this featuring those who have been part of the community and have gone on to the adult phase of their lives. And it would be wonderful hearing from them, what they’ve been up to and how their dreams have evolved.

Watch the alumni of North Star here:

Thanks to Abot Tala Mom, Jean Decena, our founder, Joei Villarama, met Chris Balme recently.   Jean posted about Chris’ upcoming book, “Finding the Magic in Middle School” which Joei saw and immediately found more information about Chris online:

“Chris is an education dreamer and builder, driven by a belief that we all have far more potential than we realize. Chris has built and led educational organizations, from a national non-profit serving youth in disadvantaged communities, to a laboratory school in San Francisco working to create and share new educational methods based on developmental science. Chris also writes, speaks, and trains on education topics.”

Chris is the founder of Argonaut where students get the “safe space to discover their strengths, explore their identity, and find ways to contribute to the world.”  He’s the co-founder of a new model for middle school called Millenium School and of a non-profit called Spark which “use workplace experiences, mentoring and guided support to help students explore careers and build skills.”

Chris and Joei talked about the challenges of putting visions into reality and making innovative education sustainable.  There are similar experiences and common realizations along the journey that it’s just so wonderful to be sharing the time and space with someone going through the pains and joys of giving birth to and nurturing dreams till they can stand on their own and fly.

Chris Balme and Joei Villarama

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