This blog was as supposed to be about the mystical transformation of the silkworm life cycle and how it has enriched my class in so many magical ways, but then the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas happened and 19 angels and their two fairy-teacher godmothers were murdered. And the question keeps coming up, could such a horrific incident happen here in Ojai?
I have lived in many other cultures, in Africa, Latin America, and Europe, and these random “mass shootings” at schools, supermarkets, or places of worship are something that are not as prevalent as they are in the United States. Why is it that it happens so much here? There are so many factors, not enough security, racism, or mental illness just to name a few. And yet we seem to overlook the fact that we are living in a violent society that does not take time to really care about the emotional and social welfare of each other.
Here at Valley Oak Charter, we would never think of a school shooting being possible because we live in such a peaceful small town with the Krotona Institute and Krishnamurti Foundation as part of our community’s spiritual foundation. And yet, when I walk through my neighborhood I feel the tension in our society as I pass election yard signs, flags and bumper stickers that divide us, anger us, or even scare us.
Last Thursday, at the Ojai Community Farmers' Market, where I volunteer for our School’s craft booth, a worried parent stopped by for information about our school because she was concerned about the safety of her child attending public school HERE in Ojai. Wow, if this mother is thinking of moving her child to our homeschool program because of what happened in Uvalde, how many other parents are living with this fear when they send their children off to school in the mornings? These are stressful times for parents and children alike as the mass shootings continue to plague our country this past week as well.
As a high school teacher, I saw the alienation that plagued our youth on a daily basis. The bullying, the loneliness, and the pressures of getting good grades and one’s social media presence were constant anxiety inducing stresses. In response to this, I created a “Wellness” group that met once a week on campus to discuss some of these issues and how to cope with them.
Since then I started working on a more comprehensive program to address these issues with ALL students in mind. The program is called KREW which focuses on four pillars of character traits; Kindness, Reverence, Empathy and Wellness: Kindness for oneself, each other and the planet; Reverence for the awesomeness of life that brings one joy; Empathy for our fellow humans, animals, and the planet, and finally Wellness, both emotional and physical.
Now as the supervising teacher at VOC, I have started implementing the KREW ideals. My assistant said she noticed a positive difference in the children on those days as they transitioned to their free play time. According to her, from the very first day we started the meditation, they were just kinder and calmer the rest of the day as they interacted with each other.
How do we weave the threads of kindness, reverence, empathy, and wellness into the fabric of our school culture? Do we want to live in a society where fear and hatred determine the way we interact with one another, or one where lovingkindness and wellness are at the forefront in how we walk through our communities?
We need to start making sure that these values are taught to our children on a daily basis, just as math and reading are, as a way of preventing violence in our communities and bringing peace to the planet. I am calling on our parents, staff, board members, director, and students to form a committee to create a program that will promote KREW in our school on a daily basis. Maybe this could be the start of transformation we want to see in ourselves and our communities. Remember, it takes a village.
Please email me with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org