|Posted on October 8, 2016 at 3:15 PM|
September 30, 2016
Dear Earth Tortoise School Families, Alumni and Friends,
The Earth Tortoise School opened in the fall of 2009 out of Erin’s home with only 6 children. By the summer of 2011, we were able to move into our current location with 12 children and we hired our first official employee. Quickly we grew to having 16 children, 2 full time employees and a part time employee. We settled into our new space happily and have loved our time here ever since. We feel so blessed to have been able to develop amazing relationships with children, parents, and the larger Montessori community. Through open, honest communication and genuine caring for the families in our community; through events such as annual family outings and pot-lucks, Parent-Teacher Conferences and Parent Education Nights; through our work with county and state Early Intervention programs as well as with private providers of therapy services we have cultivated close, respectful and supportive relationships. And we have felt such tremendous support in return. Our appreciation and gratitude cannot really be expressed in words. We thank each and every one of you for your contribution to this community! All of this has solidified, in our hearts and minds, our desire to build community and serve families.
For the past year, we have felt the tug to expand. In our current location, we can provide care to 4 infants. But we see a growing need for infant care and would like to expand to be able to serve more families with infants. In general, East Portland is seeing a lot of young families moving in. We would like to offer services beyond child care that provide resources and build community – a gathering space, an educational space, a peaceful retreat. We envision a meeting space for continuing early childhood education, for community groups, for classes for children and families. We see community gardens and children playing. We have so many ideas! At the same time, we do not want to become huge. We love our intimate space with its personal relationships. This feeling of warmth and closeness is something that we need to maintain.
While we have been keeping an eye out for suitable properties or resources, we have not been in much of a hurry. We have been waiting for the “perfect fit”. However, we realize there is really never the perfect time or the perfect opportunity. These are things that we have to make happen. And recent changing circumstances have made us feel that now is the time to begin working towards these goals. As you may or may not know, the home that we currently reside in was owned by Maya’s mother-in-law – Dene Bowen. It has provided us an amazing opportunity and has worked wonderfully for the time we have been here. However, Dene has recently passed away and the house is now held in trust by her two sons. Though there is no pressing need to move, we feel that it is now best to separate school and family business. And with our minds on finding a new location, our dreams and visions are looming large and are suddenly very possible.
However, as with many things in life, we cannot do this alone. We want to build community but to do this we need community support. We are reaching out to you. Between us, we have endless areas of expertise, skills, resources, and ideas. We would love to hear from you about what has worked and what needs improvement, what needs do you see in the community, what resources are lacking. We want to hear your questions and your advice because we realize that our success would not have been possible without you. Our continued success must be built on giving back.
We would like to therefore invite you to a community/development meeting in mid to late October.
If you are interested in hearing more about our vision and ideas, if you are interested in providing us with feedback and advice, if you would like to get involved in helping us navigate through this new adventure, we hope that you will join us! This will simply be a preliminary meeting where we plan on explaining the options we have considered, what might be involved in achieving these options, and then hearing from all of you.
Please RSVP to [email protected] to let us know if you are interested and would like to come. We plan on booking a meeting space once we know how many people are interested in attending. Look for this information soon! In the meantime, thank you again and we hope to see many of you there. We look forward to hearing from you and learning from you and basing our development on the needs of our community.
With love, appreciation and gratitude,
Maya Bowen & Erin Tooze