For my spring break, I decided to embark on an unconventional adventure away from the sunny beaches of Miami and towards the snowy mountains of Minnesota. Curiosity led me to visit Awakening Spirit Homeschool Collaborative, a microschool in the region, where founders Amy & Dave Marotz have created a truly exceptional learning environment. In this blog post, I will share my experience and highlight the unique aspects of this community-driven educational model.
A Warm Welcome in a Snowy Setting: As I stepped into Awakening Spirit Homeschool Collaborative, I immediately felt a sense of warmth and comfort, akin to arriving home. Housed in a repurposed residence, the school’s cozy atmosphere and abundance of natural light counteracted the wintry landscapes that surrounded it. The wooden natural furniture and meticulously organized spaces added to the inviting ambiance. Each room served a specific purpose, whether it was a Lego room for exploring and creating animations or a library with bookshelves that seemed to stretch endlessly towards the ceiling.
Community and Family Spirit: The spirit of community and family was tangible at Awakening Spirit. During my visit, I witnessed parents and students returning from their snowy excursions, shedding their jackets and boots to begin the day’s activities. The students were responsible for morning chores, which ranged from feeding the guinea pigs to collecting laundry. Through these shared responsibilities, the bonds between students, parents, and educators were reinforced. It was evident that every individual in the community played a vital role in fostering a nurturing environment.
Student-Led Learning: One of the most striking aspects of Awakening Spirit was the emphasis on student-led learning. The kindergarten group engaged in a morning circle session that was both student-paced and student-led. Each child built on one another’s ideas, creating a collaborative and meaningful narrative. Meanwhile, the older students, ranging from ages 6 to 15, were engrossed in exploring Hamlet. The expectations remained high, but the curriculum was tailored to meet the diverse needs and interests of each student. After a scene reading, the younger students were given the freedom to pursue their passion projects and engage in purposeful play.
A Day of Exploration: Throughout the day, the students at Awakening Spirit experienced a variety of transitions, outdoor exploration, and student-led learning activities. The school’s commitment to holistic education was evident as they encouraged curiosity and fostered a love for learning. The educational approach at Awakening Spirit extended beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, allowing students to engage with their environment and discover knowledge through hands-on experiences.
Conclusion: My visit to Awakening Spirit Homeschool Collaborative in Minnesota left a lasting impression. Amy & Dave Marotz have created a microschool that redefines the educational landscape. By prioritizing students’ needs and cultivating a strong sense of community, they have crafted an environment where students thrive. The dedication to student-led learning and the recognition that every community is unique showcases the potential for microschools to create a better future for all learners. My experience at Awakening Spirit was truly enlightening, and I encourage others to witness this transformative educational model firsthand.