Monday, December 29, 2008

New First Year Teacher: Eva Brill

Our new teacher, Eva Brill, is excited about the idea of teaching science at Wellsprings. She came from New York City where she graduated with a Bachelors in Liberal Arts from Eugene Lang College. At college, she majored in environmental studies with a concentration on science, technology, and society.

At Wellsprings, Eva teaches a little bit of every kind of science. She also relates today’s scientific issues to our lives and how we live. Eva likes having the freedom to teach what she is interested in and what students are interested in. She also likes the laid back environment at Wellsprings and how individuality stands out here.

After school, Eva likes to hike for fun, loves to watch old movies from all times, hangs out with her dog, and likes to cook.

I think that Eva is very creative, kind hearted, funny, and amazing to be around. She always looks on the bright side of things. Even though I’ve only been here this year, I think that she is a great teacher to have at Wellsprings Friends School.

-- Nataya ('09)

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Fifth Full-time Teacher Added: Tyler Tjernlund

This fall, Wellsprings added a fifth fulltime teacher, Tyler Tjernlund. Tyler began his career at Wellsprings last fall as the “kitchen lady”. He was raised in Albany, Oregon until he moved to Eugene at age 18 to attend college.

Tyler came to Wellsprings to be of help to youth who were similar to him in high school: not fitting the mainstream, and struggling to become yourself not just the kind of person everyone expects. Being at the school allowed Tyler to give to students something he never had: love and unconditional support in being true to yourself.

Tyler began teaching part time last winter, subjects such as philosophy, history, and language arts. Teaching allows him to share his love of learning and looking at things more deeply.

Dealing with student problems, Tyler works hard at having endless patience and looking at the situation from the student’s point of view. Being a role model makes Tyler feel responsible for his actions and keeps him looking critically at himself to improve. As one student pointed out, “we love him and wouldn’t have him any other way.”

-- by Ayashe (‘08)

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Special Free Sale For Holiday Sharing

For the past four years, our school has had an annual Free "Sale" in the Spring. This year, with the economic downturn and increase in job layoffs, Yancey, our organizer extraordinaire, suggested that we add a second free "sale" to give away items at no charge to everyone who shows up at the school on a December Saturday morning (9 am - 12 pm).

Many people have donated hundreds of usable second hand items for us to give away at the event. At past sales, many satisfied "customers" who came to the school expressed shock that everything is free. As a child said one day with a toy in hand, "You mean, I can take this for free?"

The Free "Sale" was originally inspired by stories of the Free Store in Buffalo NY in the 1960's. It has become a special event for the Wellsprings Friends community every year.

Asked why she enjoys continuing to work on the project, Yancey says, "There is no greater feeling than to give things away. People are always shocked and surprised when I encourage them to take what they need. The satisfaction of making someone smile is priceless -- or in this case, free."

Slide show of photos (click to enlarge) taken during set up for the Free Sale for Holiday Sharing. A special "thank you" to the four students who arrived very early on Saturday morning to help Yancey with set-up!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Envisioning A Future School Building

Our community meeting room was buzzing. Students, staff, board members, and members of the Eugene Mennonite Church whose building we share were assembled for a presentation by architecture students from the University of Oregon.

Students in Nancy Yen-wen Cheng's UO class were ready to show their plans for a future building for Wellsprings Friends School and the Eugene Mennonite Church. Both teams and individual students presented slides of their concepts for the building, ranging from an addition to our current building to completely new facilities -- some with multiple buildings -- all planned for our existing site on West 18th in Eugene. Along with the slide presentations, three of the five conceptual plans had dimensional models to view.

Each of the plans was well-received by the audience and the architecture students fielded questions about their individual designs (and applause for their efforts!). While a new school building is still in the "envisioning" stage, long-range plans for Wellsprings call for a facility that better serves our students, teachers, staff, and community of friends.

Our special thanks to the participating architecture students, Nancy Yen-wen Cheng, Associate Professor, and Christine Theodoropoulos, Dept. Head of the University of Oregon Architecture Program.

Architecture Student's Model

Student's model shows building addition (green roofs) next to our existing facility (light brown roof). The "stick" rising to the top of the photo represents our magnificent large cedar tree on the front lawn of the school. Also proposed was a reflecting pond shown at the new entrance along with a sidewalk mosaic that would be created by Wellsprings students (and added to each year by future classes).

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Graduation at Wellsprings Friends School

NOTE: For people who are not on our mailing list, here is a story featured in our Summer 2008 Special Edition Newsletter.

Graduation 2008

“To see what Wellsprings is all about, come to Graduation!” Again and again over the years, we—teacher, Trustee, parent, Head—have said this to people. Not only does Graduation represent the culmination
of their high school years for all the graduates, our ceremony itself reflects and expresses what makes Wellsprings, Wellsprings!

Here is what one guest (not related to any of the graduates) wrote this year: “It was the most moving, most joyful graduation event I had ever attended. I found myself crying off and on. I observed true caring and interest in life and learning by all those who spoke and participated…. It was empowering. Thank you.”

Graduation at Wellsprings is not an assembly line process. As in everything we do during the year—classes, field trips, community meetings, special events—it is humanized and individualized.

What stands out as you experience the event is the time when one by one, a teacher will talk about an individual student. You can see several snapshots of those moments here.

The other process that makes Graduation so special is that we invite anyone in the audience to speak from their hearts. Parents, siblings, friends, relatives—all get a chance, if they wish, to share their thoughts and feelings.

You might also note in one or two of the photos that there is no uniformity in the style of dress of the graduates. Some are wearing cap and gown, others are dressed in their own special way. Those in gowns look like parts of a rainbow, so many colors are represented! The students choose. After all, it’s their day.

-- Dennis Hoerner, School Head


More Photos of Graduation 2008
(click on image to enlarge photos)

The 2008 Graduating Class

Paul comments on Nathan's chops while introducing him as a 2008 graduate.

Personal stories while presenting the graduates is a well-loved tradition (Chanci with graduate Ben).

Graduate Tyler sneaks a peak at what teacher Tyler is going to say about him.

School Head Dennis Hoerner shares his thoughts with the graduating class and audience.

Chanci brings a smile to the face of a graduate as she shares her experiences of times with the student.

A special graduation moment for teachers Chanci and Bob.


Here are more photos of the graduation ceremony (click to enlarge).

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Welcome to Our New Wellsprings Blog

To provide an online forum for our school community and friends of Wellsprings, we've started this new blog. We'll use it to post news about what's happening at the school, articles about our students and staff, and stories about events sponsored by the school.

The blog will be added to our updated website (in progress) in the near future. Meanwhile, it's time to get started with periodic postings.

We invite your comments and look forward to having a continuing conversation about Wellsprings Friends School.

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