Our school has a name: Juneberry Hill Schoolhouse.
When Marlin and I purchased our home eight years ago, we were delighted to find several serviceberry trees growing on our hilltop homestead. Serviceberries go by many other names and are close relatives to the Juneberry. June being my favorite month and Wendell Berry one of our favorite authors, naming our schoolhouse came very easily. I read up on the history of our land, the parcel of which it was originally part, and studied several old maps. If you have read any of Wendell Berry’s fiction about Port William, you can imagine my delight when I found our land borders a farm once owned by J. Crow!
During my first year of teaching, I divided my days among three different school buildings to provide reading intervention to students who needed extra support. All three of the school buildings were all-Amish buildings within our public school district. The smallest of the buildings had no electricity, and my reading room was in the lower level with only a tiny block window. It was not very conducive to having students read in such poor lighting when they were already struggling. As a result, the school approved the use of a lamp which was hooked up to an RV battery while in use. On the weekends, I had to ask the principal to take the battery home and charge it so it would be ready for the upcoming week’s reading lesson. The students all packed their lunches daily. Any food that needed to be warmed up was placed in a metal box one of the parents had built out of stainless steel to hang suspended over the gas heater in the basement of the schoolhouse. Upon arriving at school, students wrote their names on foil packets or the lids of glass containers and placed them into the box. By lunchtime the food was warmed through and ready for the students to enjoy. After the rigorous undergraduate training in the latest technology of schools, the simplicity of an open book on a table in the basement of a small schoolhouse with no electricity was a refreshing and grounding experience.
While we don’t anticipate using such extreme measures at Juneberry Hill Schoolhouse, we do plan to use books and paper rather than screens, hands-on experiences rather than videos, and for our schoolhouse to be a place where the gardens, pastures, and outdoor spaces are just as much a part of our learning classroom as the space within the building. I can hardly wait; it’s going to be amazing!
May you find joy in the simple things in life,