DSM: Re: SM in Ontario Banyan Tree

From: Gayle Remisch (tegdib@yahoo.com)
Date: Wed May 16 2001 - 17:43:11 EDT


Hi, I've just been on the list a little while and very curious about
the mechanics.

I took over a private school here in London, Ontario, Canada. At that
time it was a private school for homeschoolers. I've got 28 registered
students but only 5 that can come every day. 9 years ago I started a
home day care so I could stay home with my new daughter and still pay
the bills. As it turned out the kids were doing so well the parents
kept their kids with me for long times. One child I had in my care for
6 years. Then she sent him to school even though I had already decided
to homeschool my daughter. Then I had the opportunity to become
Principal of Banyan Tree School http://learnfree.ca

So friends saw what I was doing and liked it and asked me to take their
kids in. I was basing in on a Sudbury/Summerhill democratic model, the
only difference is it is in my home - which I rent so there are certain
things we can't do as freely as we'd like. Also, some of the
HOmeschoolign families would bring their kids over on alternate days so
they could work one on one with their other kids. The parents are the
teachers and for the most part each of them offers to help other
students out if they want info in an area which they are knowledgeable
about. So my only problem is funding also. Many of the parents in the
schools are on fixed incomes and cannot afford even my low costs (same
as day care rates) I've always wondered how the idea of "I can pay for
daycare, but as soon as my child is 4-5 and in school I'm off the hook"
 comes into place.

So now I have:
-one mum who is agoraphobic and on assistance pays me 1/2 rate for her
two kids,
-one sister who (she pays for her brother to come) is a trucker and at
home due to an accident paying 1/2 rates,
-one dad who has just lost his job due to a nasty custody and divorce
battle who can't pay anything,
-and one mum who gave me custody of her son to me because she couldn't
deal with him anymore (he's a gem here and gets along fine here with
me.)

They are here because they want to be (voluntary attendance).
They choose what classes and things they want to do.
And clearly state to anyone who will listen that the reason why they
come here is to learn primarily and more importantly to learn what they
want how they want without being forced. That's why they appreciate
the opportunity of this type of school. They are wonderful kids
however, due to the lack of real income from the school, I must go out
to work outside the school from 4-8 each evening just to make my own
ends meet and provide for my own 14month old and 9 year old.
(fortunately one of the 16 year old students babysits my 14month old
when I have to go to work).

The distance students (homeschoolers) pay an annual fee ($100) and I
act as a resource person for them, providing and organizing group
classes for the students who want them, student cards for discounted
bus fares and movie passes, certificates and direction as to where to
find curriculum the kids want and writing letters to officials
declaring the children as registered in a private school (usually if
the parent is on disability or some other pension which requires the
child be in school for them to be paid.)

I just moved into a 5 bedroom house so I have a huge rec/school room, a
play room, 3 computers, a weaving loom, tons of books in the library,
tons of craft equipment, loads of cook books, a lounge (my living room)
and well, that's the school.

We have our weekly democratic school meetings and post our minutes on
the School Yahoo Group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BanyanTree.
There I also post forms and neat thing the parents and kids might want
to use. It is also how we keep in touch about school activities and
outings.

So I'm not really sure if I should be calling myself a Sudbury Model
school or not, except I use the information video from Sudbury Valley
to explain to parents the goal of what we are working towards and the
free learning process idea.

Do I qualify as a "Sudbury Model School" you tell me?

I am open to accept new students all the time if you know anyone in the
London area who wants to enroll. The more paying students I get the
more we all can afford to do.

Gayle Remisch
Banyan Tree School
130 Centre Street
London, ONtario
N6J 1T5

(519)433-3756

--- Warren McMillan <warren@bmts.com> wrote:
> Hi again. I'm not sure I would worry too much about the non-profit
> structure etc. I am an un-incorporated non-profit and can decide the
> structure however I want. I may apply for charity status but that is
> just
> filling out the forms for tax purposes. As far as renting with no
> students... without a physical site it is doubtful that parents will
> take
> you seriously. You need a presence and people understand bricks and
> mortar.
> I do understand the hesitation to put personal resources into
> something like
> this... not exactly a blue chip investment scheme. My take on it
> though is
> that putting my own resources into it sends me the message that I am
> serious
> and that's all that matters... after all, we are here to do what we
> can and
> who is going to remember how much you spent or lost in the end. To
> me, it's
> about who I am so the money is not an issue.
>
> My motto is: 'if you build it, they will come... or not' That last
> part is
> important to me because it reminds me not to hang on to the outcome
> too
> tightly. Even if they don't come, I'll still be better than I was.
>
> Warren
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: CindyK <cindyk@unitz.on.ca>
> To: <discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2001 2:27 PM
> Subject: DSM: Re: Re: SM in Ontario
>
>
> > I know it is advisable to gather a group together but I am going on
> > > the premise that supporters will appear if I persist. I have
> been
> living
> > my
> > > life according to a 'leap and the net will appear' kind of
> philosophy
> for
> > > the past four years and it seems to work so I am approaching this
> quest
> in
> > > that spirit. I can tell you, for example, that I went out and
> rented
> > space
> > > in a beautiful area beside a river using my own resources and the
> first
> > > thing that happened was that a neighbour asked to rent the space
> from me
> > in
> > > the evenings to run TiChi lessons and he is giving me enough to
> pay the
> > > rent
> >
> > Hi Warren,
> >
> > Thanks for the timely reminder. I firmly believe that we have to
> trust
> that
> > it will happen in order for it to happen. I started as a group of
> 1. I
> > found my first co-planner at my first information meeting that I
> arranged
> > and held as a group of 1 back in January. Now there are 5 people
> that
> > regularly show up at our weekly school meeting. There are two of
> us that
> > BELIEVE, two of us who are very negative and one who's son is so
> young
> that
> > she can stay quite detached and is basically watching. I find it
> hard to
> > fight the negativity at the meetings and I sometimes leave feeling
> really
> > drained. They believe in the philosophy, they just have trouble
> believing
> > that it will happen. They are stuck on the no money issue and
> don't want
> to
> > extend themselves whatsoever. They are also both very
> anti-establishment
> and
> > both presently homeschooling.. I'd love to just rent a place and
> go with
> it
> > because there isn't much else we can do at this point. The trouble
> is
> that
> > we need 3 directors to be in the non-profit org and they don't want
> to
> take
> > on that kind of liability by taking a chance on renting with no
> students!
> > It's a rock and a hard place!
> >
> > I still believe that it will happen. And I firmly believe that "if
> you
> > build it they will come!!!" That's my motto!
> >
> > ~CindyK
> >
> >
> >
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