Nice things people say

A Kino student wrote in a college application:

Kino has real respect for its students. It’s always expected me to be self-motivated and self-disciplined, to know what I’m interested in learning, and why I’m interested in learning it, and to become a good, responsible human being. Growing up at Kino, without grades, without a set curriculum, has taught me the boundlessness of the things I can learn. Since I’ve never gotten an A+, I’ve never felt like I’ve done any work that couldn’t be improved on. Since I’m not given a number of how I compare to my graduating class, I compare myself to the world, to everyone who’s ever lived ever. It’s a difficult feeling – that I’ve never done ‘good enough’ – but all and all it’s made me reach farther and expect more from myself.

A couple of years ago Mary Jane asked junior high students to include a thank you to their homeroom teachers in their end of the year evaluations.

To my homeroom teacher, thank you:

  • for talking to me when I needed someone to talk to,
  • for your witty remarks and also for introducing me to poetry. I really appreciate having a way to express myself.
  • for helping me with my math problems that have come up so much for me this year,
  • for teaching me how to use the “P” word and when not to,
  • for, well, putting up with the homeroom,
  • for helping me through problems,
  • for making me a better writer,
  • for listening to me,
  • for giving me advice,
  • for making me laugh.

(Special note – these quotes are genuine!)

The mother of a seven year old boy recently wrote us:

When I picked my son up after his first day at school he was showing me some of the cool things he did that day and he told me “Mommy, at Kino School you can be free.” Every day since, he has continued to become more comfortable. His intense love of learning is back and fostered every day by his teachers.

My son has reported at least one fun experience he has had at school to me each day. I can’t possibly list them all but here are a few that stand out:

  • Sitting in the “big” chair with Libby and reading to Effel the guinea pig.
  • Getting to know all the animals at school and learning how to care for them.
  • Science experiments with Heather.
  • Writing stories with Mary Jane and Jennifer.
  • Finally giving in to his love of hiking and discovering all the wonderful tunnels nearby.
  • Spending time with Ed and being patiently listened to while he recites everything he knows about engines.
  • Playing “games” with Mary Lou.
  • Making more friends than he has ever had in his life.
  • Creating interesting sounds and trying the violin with Lisa in music class.
  • Doing rudimentary algebra, square roots on a calculator, chemistry and physics experiments or anything else Heather will do with him.
  • Learning Spanish with Marielena and then going home and translating the book One Fish Two Fish to Spanish for his little brother.
  • Having an impromptu physics lesson from Anna about pulleys (because he didn’t get enough science that day).
  • Making paper creations that nearly use Kino’s entire scotch tape supply in Judy’s Art Center.
  • Bonding over hot cocoa with his awesome homeroom family.
  • Going on field trips (without Mommy) and liking them.
  • Developing a special relationship with Augustus the pigeon and consequently somewhat of an obsession with pigeons.

The list goes on. Someone recently asked me about the special education department at Kino. I realized you don’t have one nor do you need one for you adapt your teaching to each student’s strengths and difficulties. In essence, you provide “special education” for all students. As a former teacher myself, I know this kind of personalized education takes a great deal of effort, understanding, and compassion on the part of the teacher. The success of your efforts is obvious on the faces of the students as I monitor the playground, peek in on your classes, or watch kids load up for a field trip. They all look happy! (January, 2009)

An e-mail from a student who graduated in the early 80s:

My memories of Kino always bring a smile to my face and I am grateful to have had such great teachers like you. I continue to lead by example by teaching my children to look at the world with open eyes, treat everyone with kindness and respect, and to be environmentally conscious. (February 6, 2006)

A thank you letter from a U of A student who observed the school:

I have never been to a school so warm and inviting as well as nurturing and creative! I was never aware that there are schools like this and wished that I could have been a Kino student! Loved playing capture the flag and found everyone to be so friendly and open. Wish you all the best and Kino has left quite an impression on me! (December, 2004)

A letter from Barcelona:

Some 20 years ago I became one of the first foreign students to join Kino’s community. Now, at my 37′s, it still stands as one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences of my life. I am now married and have three boys (6, 4 and 6 months old). Some years from now, I wish to give them the opportunity to share a year of their lives with Kino. It shall be, indeed, a unique and precious gift. (November, 2004)

From the father of a student who graduated in the early 90s:

Willow and her husband hope that there will still be a Kino and a place for their daughter there when she is old enough. We all acknowledge a large debt to Kino for the success, the fine young woman, and the great mother that Willow has become. (March, 2006)

Ed Nagel of the NALSAS, observing Kino for our periodic accreditation renewal:

An impressive amount of involvement and activity! (February, 2004)

From a university student’s paper comparing a class at Tucson High with a class at Kino:

[The teacher at Tucson High] had to try to keep the noise level down in his classroom, because that is the convention at Tucson High. The teacher at Kino, on the other hand, had no such concern. She could focus, therefore, much more closely on delivering her medieval history lesson than on delivering discipline. The tone she adopted with her students was one of gentle encouragement. She was helping them to understand concepts, and acting as a learning partner, rather than as a guide. Attention to the lecture was very strong.

Where [the Tucson High teacher] was figuring himself almost as a partner in subversion [by secretly serving popcorn in defiance of Tucson High rules], the teacher at Kino didn’t seem to need to choose sides between the administration and the students. . . .

In a moment that was both comical and slightly surreal, a portly wiener dog strolled through the room during history class….and no one seemed to care. (April, 2004)

From the father of a graduate:

I want to thank you for the education that my daughter received at Kino starting almost 20 years ago. I was initially very suspicious and doubtful that Kino would do what I thought was important–teach students to memorize facts so they could go to a prestigious college. As I now look at my daugter and some of her friends from Kino, I see them as successful, vital, struggling but happy, responsible adults. They learned (and I learned) that there are more important things than facts, grades, and names of colleges. They learned that they have choices about what they study and do. They learned to share and be part of a community. They learned how to learn by being interested in and excited about a subject.

I hope that these skills and values continue to be available for students to learn. I hope that Kino teachers know that their commitment and integrity is important and their contributions to their students is greatly appreciated. (March, 2004)

A student who graduated from Kino’s 8th grade in 1983, before we had a high school, after seven years at Kino:

Thank you Kino for the fabulous experience that I firmly believe laid the foundation for my life. I went on to high school, college at NAU, and then graduate school at UA, all based on strong self-motivation and a desire to learn and experience rather than simply be taught. Kino fostered that motivation and desire.

Kino students, speaking at their graduations:

It wasn’t until I came to Kino that I had teachers who saw the best in me, instead of looking for the worst.

It’s hard for me to imagine what I’ll be doing next year instead of coming to Kino. It’s like my family.

From Linda Leedberg, Global Methodology: Engaging Children in Drama and Theater Arts to Enhance Creative and Aesthetic Response, pages 141, 143 (1995):

The intimacy of [Kino school] fosters a spirit of caring for each other. … The older children more willingly focused on helping the younger ones to succeed … From the vantage point of the younger children, they seemed to find a greater sense of confidence based on the older students’ interest in them. … The open setting also appeared to stimulate active imagination, perhaps because the children felt freer and more playful.

A Kino alumn, at the commissioning ceremony where he became an Air Force lieutenant:

I would like to thank the teachers and mentors of Kino School. Ed Davis is one of the most influential teachers I have ever had. Without him I might not have realized what I could accomplish in life. He … genuinely cares about trying to help young people accomplish success. … That goes for the rest of the Kino School community as well.

And his mother said it is not usual to have eleven high school teachers attend a commissioning ceremony (or to have them whoop so enthusiastically).

Paul Ziemer, father of Kate Ziemer (Class of ’97):

Sending her to Kino was the best thing we ever did for Kate.

Parents of two Kino graduates:

Lara’s essay for admission to medical school was sprinkled with Kino events and philosophy. … Kino works, and the seeds that you planted have bloomed over and over.

A Kino student writing from Japan where she was a year long exchange student:

Japanese school are supposed to be very difficult and Japanese students are supposed to work very hard. Both these things are true. . . . I like my Japanese school very much and I’ve made a lot of friends. But Kino is a far, far better school. I’ve always heard that Kino is a school where individuality, creativity, and originality are encouraged. I didn’t used to know what that meant, but among my Japanese friends I don’t know anyone who will ask for an explanation when they don’t understand or will ask a question when they want to know the answer. No one likes or is excited by what they learn in school, whereas if you look around at Kino you will find a huge amount of interests being pursued, projects being carried out, kids learning.

11 year old boy, overheard in May:

Ninety days is way too long for a summer vacation.