Sauntering with Dr. Brooke...

Before I came to Clark Fork I had never heard the word “sauntering” hardly at all. Now I hear it on a daily basis and I love it! For, it is such a Clark Fork word and why I am using it in the title of my monthly blog!

If you look up the definition of “saunter” or “sauntering” in the Webster’s Dictionary it is easy to see why it is such a Clark Fork word. According to Webster, “saunter” means “to walk about in an idle or leisurely manner; stroll”. Synonyms for saunter include amble, hike, perambulate, ramble, tramp, and tromp. And if you visit our school on any given day you will see our children doing just this, either on our amazing playground or leaving or returning from a “saunter” (or field trip)! In our Kidsniche After School PreK-5 Enrichment Program which serves over 100 children this school year, sauntering is just a way of life. Most days they are at a park, on a hike, or lately picking up their CSA share at the PEAS farm. Why? Because at Clark Fork we know our children thrive outside. Not all communities treasure the outside like we do and it has been beautiful to watch in this first full month of school not only the sauntering- the tramping, the tromping, but the play… and inside this play the teaching and learning that is taking place for our children.

I am so proud to be part of a community that prioritizes this play and realizes that when our children are “playing”, they are indeed “learning”. I saw a quote the other day by Dr. Karyn Purvis that read “Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain- unless it is done in play, in which case, it takes between 10 and 20 repetitions!” Just think what this means for our children. We also know that when children feel like they are in a socially and emotionally safe environment even more learning will take place and that is why I have so loved watching our teachers create relationships with our students this past month. And then, we have the indoor environments the teachers have set up that cause our students to “play” in different ways where they are given provocations that stir their curiosity and allow our children to follow their own interests and also discover new learning. The social aspect of our school has also been a special piece to watch this past month as children “make friends” and become a classroom community part of the larger school community. From a young age they are learning to love their “place” in this world here at Clark Fork and we know that what we love, we strive to take care of, and that is the foundation of place based education.

As you can see sauntering is just one reason that Clark Fork School is a special place. There are so many and it has been a month of me, as the new director, learning about these integral parts of our programming and community that makes me so happy to be here. I am hoping as I write this on the first day of October, all our new families and returning families this year, are also feeling that special vibe in the air as you enter our gates each morning and come to pick up your little ones each day. It has been one of my favorite times of day when I watch parents spot their children from across the playground with dirt caked on their face from so much play and run to one another sharing stories of the day! Yet, another reason, Clark Fork School is so special… parents play a vital role!

So, as we look back at September and the beginning of the school year and reflect on the saunter we took last month I ask you to think about what you find special about Clark Fork. Maybe it is a word, like me, that has stuck out as unique and special to this community, maybe it is an interaction or a learning you witnessed, or already growth in your child you’ve seen. September was a full month! It was full of back to school, parent orientations, getting schedules figured out, getting back to making lunches, and getting back to volunteering, so thank you for all you have given this month to your child/children and to our community.

There are some great ways to give in the coming month as we saunter through October! Our Plant and Brew is this Thursday and our Wine Raffle, a huge fundraiser for our school, is on Thursday, October 25th. I know our amazing educators are excited to see the funds raised which will go directly to helping them grow professionally. And we know from research, that when our teachers grow, our children grow!

I will also be sending out a parent survey any day to gain feedback about how you want to grow as parents as we create our new Parentsniche Parent Education Program this year at Clark Fork School. For we know even more from research that when our first and most important teachers grow (us parents), our children grow for a lifetime!

Before I go and together we “saunter” into October, I’d like to extend a special thank you to all of you for your warm welcome here at Clark Fork School. It has been a busy September for me for sure and I look forward to now walking/hiking with a little more leisure in my step. There is much to celebrate in our wonderful community here at Clark Fork School and I thank you again for all your support of me, our teachers, one another, and especially, our children.