Author: Emily Murphy

They were excited to be chosen to participate in a new project, despite not knowing what their role would be or what the project entailed. This was not how the process typically began. We prefer a more organic and emergent way of starting projects and involving students. It was our standard of practice to follow the interests of students and […]
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  Pagosa Peak Open School has a new focus this year. Along with their place-based, project-based model, they have taken on food security as a priority. This lens has given staff a chance to look at our programs at school, our resources in the county, and the needs of our students. This shift has offered us opportunities to narrow our […]
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He leaned his face down toward a corn plant standing before him, gently holding the leaves with both hands. “You are so beautiful, you know that?” he said. “You keep growing and growing, you beautiful thing.” Other children gathered around him, some of them singing quiet songs to the plants while others gently brushed the corn silk hanging before them. […]
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The school year has ended on an upswing at Pagosa Peak Open School, with drama camp, song writing, hikes, cooking, gardening and water play. The fourth- and fifth-graders worked together during the three weeks of the June session to write their own songs, which they composed and sang with Cora Rose, a professional musician and James Lewicki’s daughter. After hearing […]
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Gardens, spiralizers, hikes, bugs, games, art and music filled our summer afternoons this June. Our typically mixed-age groups became even more mixed-age as children abandoned their homerooms and sorted themselves into four groups: Columbine, Pagosa Skyrocket, Larkspur and Indian Paintbrush. Each of these groups had students from each homeroom; allowing siblings to work together, kindergartners to mingle with second-graders, and […]
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During the past two weeks, students have worked with Mrs. Bruno on building garden boxes, shoveling dirt and planting...
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After noticing the disappearance of the kindergarten Roxaboxen area, Ms. Polly made a plan. “How do you feel about my group working to fix this space up?” she suggested. She had a group of first and second-graders looking for a project. The kindergarten space had been dismantled, and disappointed 5- and 6-year-olds were wistfully reminiscent about their outdoor town. When […]
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“I think we should try shame. Shame, shame shame on you! We can make them feel bad and then maybe people won’t litter,” Bella said. “I prefer to call it ‘educational guilt-tripping’,” Carlo said. “We could say, ‘If you ever want to see a cat again, don’t litter,'” Sandero added, telling his story about a cat choking on trash. They […]
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“Look at this!” Blake said, holding up a pine cone and a book. The cone he found looked exactly like the picture he was attempting to point out. “This is a blue spruce tree we’re sitting under!” Until this moment we were calling it the “fort tree,” since the impressive 60-foot evergreen had long enough boughs to hide us all. […]
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      “Why are people so lazy?” Shelton asked, leaning over to pick a piece of trash out of the grass that ran alongside the new bike path. “It really makes me so mad.” Others agreed. “They could just leave it in their car or their pocket – or throw it in the trash!” As they continued their litter […]
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Flowers, grass and weeds have been spotted pushing their way up through the soil on our playground. Quiet students at the top of the hill can hear frogs in the wetland outside our fence. And motionless  children can see snakes. With their faces close to the ground, they see babies. And a “mama.” Garter snakes have taken up residence in […]
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