A couple of months ago, I decided to leave my teaching position at Woolman. After 4 years of teaching Global Issues, (nearly two years of teaching Peace Studies), plus all of the pizza cooking, adventuring, hiking, gardening, advising, and more that goes into living here--words cannot express what a difficult choice that was. But in the end, I know it is time.
There were a lot of factors leading to this decision, none of which are easily explained. So, for now, I am processing with gratitude, what has been truly the most amazing and absolutely most challenging experience of my life.
My heart is overflowing with love for the time that I have spent on this beautiful piece of land; with it’s prolific wildlife, kind and quirky residents, the wise and generous wider Woolman community, and most of all—each and every Wombat who has rolled through here since Fall 2009. Whether as teacher, head, staff, intern, or student—all of you have given and taught me more than you can know.
It is hard to imagine anything being more fulfilling than sitting in a class under peace flags and an Adbusters corporate flag of America…discussing the roots of apathy, the effects of immigration policy, the purpose of education, visioning a more just and sustainable world and coming to an understanding that each of our unique gifts are needed to get there.
It is hard to imagine working with adults that bring as much dedication and intention to what they do, while making it fun as heck, as the staff at Woolman does.
Or in a school system that truly sees each youth in their care (gifts, challenges, individuality, and wisdom) and holds them with such deep respect and accountability.
Or with youth who value authenticity, adventurousness, compassion, and the fabulous quirkiness each of us has, over the superficial crap that teens are told to care about.
It’s hard to imagine finding a life where every task you do feels like it contributes to the larger revolution.
But, its time for me to take the advice that I have been giving graduating classes for the past 8 semesters: Woolman is both a place and a family. It is a school in the Sierra Foothills and also model for living what you believe, no matter where you are.
In order for Woolman to succeed as a model for the new paradigm (and not just an idealistic bubble), it is clear that we need to take what we have gained here out into other places of the world.
I am facing a lot of unknowns in my life as I move forward, but I can thank Woolman for one thing that I have come to know clearly. Through this place, these people, and this wacky class we place under the name of Global Issues—I have found my calling.
I now see myself as an educator for The Great Turning. To me, that means my task is to help people come to understand this unique time in human history—with all of its opportunities and challenges. I hope to work with others to analyze how we came to be facing these social and environmental crises, while introducing them to the myriad of exciting and inspiring solutions that are already occurring worldwide (and visioning alternatives that don’t yet exist, too!). Most importantly, I would love to continue the work of facilitating skills for getting active and helping people to see that their unique gifts can be used joyfully for creating a better world.
The challenging part is that, to my knowledge, it doesn’t really exist in this form yet outside of a "tiny think tank in the Nevada City woods"! This is what has led me to pursue a PhD in Sustainability Education through Prescott College. The program which starts in August for me, describes Sustainability Education as "education at the intersection of ecology, economics, and social justice" (so similar to Global Issues!). The PhD caters to non-traditional career goals and will ideally equip me to create another incarnation of the work that is done at Woolman, an education program facilitating skills and values that are relevant to this very unique time in history.
...Or, who knows? Maybe I will become a doctor (of philosophy), come back and be the next Ted Menmuir! (the amazing man who started as the John Woolman School history teacher, took a break, was head of school at least three times, and then returned again as art teacher for several years!) We'll see. Until then, I look forward to coming back to visit here, ushering in my replacement (ANOTHER University for Peace, Peace Education graduate!!!!), and utilizing the wealth of wisdom that I have gained at Woolman to continue teaching, learning, and living what I believe! Thanks everyone!
Love, Peace, and Global Solidarity,