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In lieu of a Winter Assembly this year, here is a heartfelt offering with the warmest wishes from our students, in their natural element!

Videoography by Allen Clements, Music by Jon Stevens.

We are thrilled to welcome Ms Kerry Clements and her family to the Mangrove community! Here is a lovely article she wrote for Early Childhood parents about our first festival of the school year:

“The Autumn winds blow open the gates
Saint Michael for you we wait
We follow you, show us the way
With joy we greet this Autumn day
Good Morning, good morning”

Late September and early October in Southwest Florida is quite unlike the Autumn of Lancaster County Pennsylvania. As a native of Amish farm country I have become accustomed to the beautiful outward expression of Mother Earth as she prepares to take a deep in-breath and ready herself for the coming winter. The maple trees are the most dramatic of the deciduous, the leaves turning brilliant hues of gold, orange and red. Mist often settles on the hillsides each morning as the nights become increasingly
cooler. Visual elements of Fall are everywhere, the harvested and bundled corn stalks, baskets of apples and endless fields of pumpkins ready to be picked and carved or made into pumpkin pie. But here, in this sub-tropical region, the expression is different. No less magical or beautiful, but different.

The breathing of Mother Earth, in this equatorial region, is much more subtle and gentle. In October the humidity decreases and the temperature becomes much more comfortable. Being outdoors is enjoyable. As our northern neighbors begin to look inward, here in the south we are beginning to take an out-breath. When considering seasonal rhythms, there is an imbalance in the breath, the expression of summer, of light, of green and growth is the ruler in this kingdom. But if you look closely and atune one’s self to the language of Mother Earth, you realize there are seasonal shifts to behold. While we are not picking apples or harvesting wheat on the Southwest coast of Florida, we see the changes in other ways. Soon the sweet starfruit will turn a golden yellow, the citrus fruits will show their first hints of ripening. The beautyberries are in their full expression of bright lavender. And to the delight of the squirrels, the oak trees will soon drop their acorns providing a bountiful feast for our bushy tailed friends.

But in this place of whispering changes, how does one mark the passage of time for our little ones? The practice of celebrating seasonal festivals is an honored tradition in human culture and Waldorf education. Their significance is deeply important to the inner life of humanity and the developing child. Young children do not yet have the ability to understand the concept of time and it’s passage. The celebration of seasonal festivals supports the child’s connection to the breathing of the earth and nature’s cycles. One of the most noticeable shifts during the Autumn season begins to occur at the Autumn Equinox, when day and night are approximately the same length. This moment marks the beginning of our journey to the winter solstice, the longest night. The feast of St. Michael is celebrated during the season of the Autumn Equinox. Michaelmas was originally celebrated in Western Europe as a festival to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and to acknowledge the waning of the light and the approach of the longer nights. This imagery is represented in the tales of St. Michael defeating the dragon. St. Michael is an image of courage and strength, reminding all us that winter will pass and the light will return.

In our early childhood classroom this imagery is but only a seed. We cheerfully sing songs of St. Michael, hear stories of bravery and enjoy the fruits of the season. The children delight in dying their silk capes of golden light with natural materials. This year we used golden turmeric, the magic of firebush flowers and the rays of father sun to turn our capes a bright yellow color. Soon the children will each be reverently presented with
their golden capes.

“I give you this cape of golden light
May it give you courage, strength and might”

After which we will take a journey across campus in search of Mother Earth’s basket of goodies (fruits of the season). For snack we will shape our bread loaves into dragon bread. The children love to create scales and other features with almonds and raisins. Our dragon breathes fiery strips of red, yellow and orange peppers (sweet peppers). A nibble of dragon fruit is also a fun surprise and keeps with the theme. The qualities of courage and inner light are an essential element of the early childhood experience. We adults may ponder the meaning of Michaelmas or the Autumnal
Equinox but it is best for the young child to experience the seasonal journey in images and activities that are meaningful without an explanation of the underlying thoughts and concepts. “In time, the children’s experiences will ripen into an understanding that will be truly their own.” (N. Foster)

I wish you all many blessings in this season of St. Michael and the Autumn Equinox! ~ Ms Kerry Clements, Early Childhood Teacher

Plant dyed golden capes inspire!

Now more than ever, families may need assistance to support their choice for the education that best suits their child. Luckily, here in Florida there are many options for scholarships for students of school age.

In 2001, the Florida Legislature created the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to assure that lower-income children have more learning options. In May 2019, nearly 20 years later, the Family Empowerment Scholarship was created by the Florida Legislature to further help lower-income children.

Both scholarships are based on financial need, and income qualification is based on the last 30 days. If you have had a drop in income due to the pandemic, you are encouraged to apply. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) allows families to choose between financial assistance toward private school tuition and fees, OR with transportation costs to attend a public school other than the one the student is assigned to attend. The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) may only be used towards private school tuition and fees. You can apply at http://www.stepupforstudents.org

Florida Tax Credit Eligibility Criteria:

Age Eligibility:

  • Students entering Kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept. 1.
  • Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept.1.

Income Eligibility:

  • If a member of the household receives SNAP (food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR, the student may qualify.
  • If the household income qualifies for free or reduce-priced lunch, the student may qualify.
  • If the household income is at/or below the income chart found in the chart below titled “Eligibility Chart”, the student may qualify.
  • Additional FES criteria:
  • The student is eligible to enroll in kindergarten or has spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school. Prior attendance means the student was enrolled in and attended a Florida public school during both the October and February student counts.
  • Both FTC and FES applicants only need to income qualify 1 time, rather than re-qualify each year.

You can find the elgibility chart here. Remember, only documentation for the last 30 days is required to qualify. If your income has lowered due to the pandemic, you are encouraged to apply now to secure funds for the upcoming school year, and year thereafter.

In addition to income based scholarships, there are scholarships for unique abilites as well.

The Gardiner Scholarship program helps parents individualize the educational plans for their children with certain special needs was named the Gardiner Scholarship in January of 2016. The name honors Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the legislative effort to create the program, and his family. 

A different kind of scholarship: The Gardiner Scholarship is different than other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize the education of their children with unique abilities by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. These include schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology – even a college savings account.

This scholarship is for Florida students 3 years old through 12th grade or age 22, whichever comes first, with one of the following disabilities: Autism spectrum disorder, Muscular dystrophy, Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Phelan McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina bifida, Williams syndrome, Intellectual disability (severe cognitive impairment), rare diseases as defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders, (such as PANDAS), anaphylaxis, deaf, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, hospital or homebound as defined by the rules of the State Board of Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts, or three, four or five year-olds who are deemed high-risk due to developmental delays.

You can apply at http://www.stepupforstudents.org

Also for special abilities there is the McKay Scholarship. The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, originally created in 1999, provides scholarships for eligible students with disabilities to attend an eligible public or private school of their choice. Students with disabilities include K-12 students who are documented as having an intellectual disability; a speech or language impairment; a hearing impairment, including deafness; a visual impairment, including blindness; a dual sensory impairment; an orthopedic impairment, an other health impairment, an emotional or behavioral disability; a specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasia; a traumatic brain injury; a developmental delay; or autism spectrum disorder.

Any parent of a public school student with a disability who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 accommodation plan may receive a McKay Scholarship if the student meets the following requirements:

  • The student has spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school (the student was enrolled and reported by a Florida school district for funding during the preceding October and February FTE surveys in Pre-K through grade 12), or
  • The student received services under the Specialized Instructional Services (SIS) program during the previous school year and has a current IEP developed by the local school board in accordance with State Board Rule or a 504 accommodation plan

Mangrove School of Sarasota is proud to participate in all of these programs; every child should have the opportunity to have the education that is the best fit for them. Now accepting students for 2020-21, preschool through high school.

Uncertain times have the potential to bring many new challenges and issues, as well as innovative solutions and ingenuity! Our Mangrove Garden Collective was born from a need to empower families to grow their own food, find hope in precarious circumstances, and bring our community together in spirit when we need to keep our distance. We hope you will join in this movement. Together, we grow.

The New York Times sparked national media coverage with its front page story on why Silicon Valley parents are turning to education that delays the use of technology.  This film picks up where that story left off.

 

“Preparing for Life” takes viewers inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning.

 

Entrepreneurs, Stanford researchers, investment bankers, and parents who run some of the largest hi-tech companies in the world, weigh-in on what children need to navigate the challenges of the 21st Century in order to find success, purpose, and joy in their lives.

 

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