I’ve been reflecting more and more on why I want to start a school. I’ve mentioned previously that I am a public school teacher and have been for pretty much my entire career. I was drawn to teaching because I have always loved school and learning and I wanted to inspire others and instill in them that same love of learning. But after 10 years in the traditional classroom, I have come to the conclusion that I thrived as a child in spite of school, not because of it. Every year, I feel more and more frustrated; I feel my own joy draining away; I dread going in the mornings and I come home exhausted and irritable and I don’t feel like I’m giving my best self to my family, which should be my number one priority. Teaching, for me, is almost like a toxic relationship. I go through phases where I just try to make the best of it; and phases where I think I change the system! But really, it’s just time to move on.
After coming to this conclusion I began to look at other options. What can I do if I’m not a teacher? I considered pursuing art and selling prints and commissioned work. But I truly feel a passion for kids and helping mold them into the people they are going to be, so I thought maybe I can fulfill my passion through other avenues– focusing on educating my own kids; coaching their sports teams; volunteering with kids at church. Then one day my husband said, “Lauren, have you ever thought about pod school?” I had not, so in true “Lauren fashion,” I began to research what that was. And as I learned more, my search changed to “how do I start one?”
As the idea of starting a school began to take shape in my head, I decided I needed to find out if there was even anyone interested, other than me. So I posed this very question in a Facebook group for local moms with over 7,000 members. I specified that it would be a small group of kids and would be self-paced, learner driven, hands-on, and project-based. I was really surprised by how much interest there was in such a school. This told me that there is an educational gap in my community that needs to be filled.
The third and probably most important reason for wanting to start a new type of school is my daughter. She recently turned 5 and she constantly amazes me with what she is able to do. My husband and I joke sometimes that she is destined to either change the world, or rule it! She has been in a pretty traditional preschool, and she has done very well there so far. But as I get closer to having to make a decision about where to send her to school, nothing seems quite right. Would she be fine in traditional kindergarten? Probably. She is social and would make tons of friends and would probably enjoy it for that reason alone. But she won’t learn anything. All of the academic skills that are taught in kindergarten are things that she is either already doing, or currently working on. I also know first-hand how soul sucking school can be. I think it’s worse now than when I was a kid because there are so many alternatives to traditional learning that are just not effectively utilized. We have unprecedented access to information, yet as a society we pretend that the classroom is the best way to prepare kids for their life beyond school. This disconnect is not lost on kids. They know their time is being wasted so that’s how they treat school: as a waste of time. I do not want this for my daughter. I do not want her time and talent wasted sitting in a traditional classroom.
And so I am pressing on. I’m looking at options and figuring out what to actually do and how to actually do it. I’m really excited about the possibilities, and I can’t wait to share them with whoever joins us on this journey.