The Roadtrip Begins

Exploring Holistic Education Across America

 A new chapter of our journey unfolds as we recently packed up the car and headed out from Connecticut on our cross-country road trip. Camden and I are exploring holistic schools around the US, camping along the way, and learning both from the schools we visit, as well as the journey itself. After returning from Thailand in May, we spent a few months at home with our families. It was wonderful to reconnect and reground to life here. There is always some reverse culture shock, but we adjusted surprisingly well. We are grateful to our families for continuing to provide us with a supporting and loving environment to return to. 

    When we first landed and drove from JFK to my parent’s house, we both noticed the beauty of the land here. The clear blue skies illuminated the dense green trees along the roadside and the clean air felt refreshing and uplifting. As much as we loved living in Bangkok, it was good to be back in the natural surroundings of New England. During our time in CT and MA, we kept busy planning and choosing a wedding venue for next year, doing some work around the house, and beginning our inquiry into holistic education by visiting some local schools. Our first visit was to the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in Newtown, CT. My pre-school teacher from many years ago, Melissa Merkling, gave us a tour and offered her insights on Waldorf education. Melissa founded Star Meadow, a Waldorf pre-school, which today had grown into the K-8 Housatonic Valley Waldorf School. This wonderful school nurtures the spirit of the child in a loving, but structured environment. The indoor spaces are adorned with lazure paintings, natural materials, and original work from the students. Outside is where we found all the young campers digging in the sand and climbing the wooden playground towers and bridges.  We also had the chance to visit North Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Sunderland, MA. We met with one of the founders, Ken Danford, and enjoyed a conversation with him about the alternative North Star offers to mainstream middle and high school students. The message that North Star hopes to convey is that “Learning is natural, school is optional.” Camden and I will share more about these visits and what we learned from these incredible educators. Stayed turned for some upcoming articles! 

 On August 4th, the official road trip commenced. We managed to fit everything into the car… well not everything is in the car, we have a roof box and two bins on a hitch (the kitchen and the pantry.) Our first stop was in Richmond, VA to visit my friend Courtney. We stayed with her and her husband Will in their charming and historic home. We shared great discussions about community, leadership, the meaning of money, and personal development. To be met with such warmth and love by both Courtney and Will was deeply appreciated by Camden and I. We also enjoyed our short stay in Richmond, walking across a suspension bridge to Belle Isle, wandering the halls of the Virginia Fine Arts Museum, and exploring the downtown  shops along Cary Street. 

    Our next stop was Asheville, NC where we had our first camping experience. We pitched our tent and set up camp upon our arrival at Jake’s Organic farm. Our first meal was some delicious mac’ and cheese. Our large tent and rather glamourous setup allowed for a a good night sleep and overall comfortable camping experience. During our time in Asheville, we spent some time exploring the city, walking in nature, cooking outside, and meeting old friends. It was a joy to see my friend Callie, who I met while teaching in South Korea 9 years ago. Her vibrant spirit, energy for adventure, and confidence to be herself is inspiring. It is amazing to see each other again after so long and still feel a warm connection and kinship. I think it has been one of the best things about this trip thus far. The opportunity to see old friends and be reminded of all the many people who we love and love us!

    During our visit, we also had the chance to visit the Rainbow Community School. a holistic K-8 school in west Ashville. We met with West Wilmore who gave a tour of the school and shared with us some of the spirit of Rainbow and what the educators there try to share with their students. They have a wonderful daily practice called “centering” that invites the children to come together for 30 minutes each morning in a circle. As a classroom, they participate together in a mindful, or centering activity. We will write more about what we learned at Rainbow soon! From their Seven Domains model, to their magical natural playground, there is much to share about this inspiring school. 
    As we continue to embark on this journey of visiting schools, meeting with educators, and understanding the holistic education movement across the country, there has been one common question we have asked of those we meet. In our meetings, we noticed that much of our time together is spent talking, processing information about the schools or programs in a verbal/intellectual manner. Therefore, we have been asking everyone to create an original gesture that represents the essence of their school and what they do there. It is enlivening to get out of our head and into our body and through their gestures, the sentiment is that they express is palpable. So much can be understood through the body and movement, it has personally been my favorite part of our meetings.

    We are now in Carrollton, GA. This is the home of the University of West Georgia where Camden and I met and completed our Masters of (Humanistic) Psychology degrees. It is a dear and special place to both of us. We are lucky to have more kind and generous friends here who have allowed us to stay in the tiny house they have on their land. Paul and Terra are incredible models for living with nature, respecting the earth, and consuming with awareness. From building their home by hand from cobb (a mixture of clay, straw, sand, and water), to farming their own food, they have much to teach us about living in a way that brings us back to our roots. Their 8-year-old daughter. Zinnia, is powerful and strong spirited. She has a vibrant imagination and similar love and curiosity for the natural world. The education that they have provided her is insightful in many ways and we plan to share more about what we have learned from Paul and Terra regarding holistic home-schooling.

    Overall, this blog is a teaser for what is yet to come as Camden and I continue on this journey and share through our writing, photos, and videos. We have already connected with so many wonderful people and developed our own understanding of life and learning. To be in the world, to be on this journey, to be together, to be with others, to be in nature, is undoubtedly a mode of education and being for us!

Cooking in the tent during the rain in Asheville

First night Mac’ and cheese

Packed and ready to head to our next stop in GA
Tree hugging in Asheville
Making new friends, inch by inch

Dry wood for fires, lesson learned!



8 thoughts on “The Roadtrip Begins

  1. How lucky I am to be by your side on this journey of ours. I could lie awake for eons and not dream of being any other place in this Universe. Let the good times roll!!! 😀

  2. Thanks for sharing your inspirational adventure! Makes us want to go cross country too!! Love your sense of love and humor!! Be safe!! Much love and many blessings!! Bobbi and Nim

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey! Will and I really enjoyed our conversations while you and Cam were here in RVA, such a treat to spend a few days with you both. Looking forward to following along digitally on your adventures. Much love, Courtney.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s