COMMUNITY & CULTURE

At FernLeaf, our focus is nurturing our students to grow into thoughtful and compassionate members of society.

One of the gifts of public education is our mandate to educate all children; we do not choose who will enter our doors. Building community among diverse stakeholders and creating a safe place for all is an active process, and it requires thoughtful cultivation and attunement. Therefore, we strive in preparing a rich soil that supports the growth of ALL young people and their families no matter their race, native language, gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, religious or non-religious identity, or immigration status. Borrowing from the words of the ecologist Thomas Berry, we know that “diversity is the magic”. Therefore, the school community we’re creating looks more like a riotous wildflower patch on top of Bearwallow Mountain and less like the tidy, monoculture of grass next door. Like all other healthy ecosystems, we’re interested in creating something that is life-sustaining and mutually beneficial. When was the last time YOU experienced this at school?

We encourage strengthening our community each day, starting with our Morning Meetings, which give children a chance to share timely stories and thoughts with their peers while offering a time to set intentions for the day, as well as a mindfulness practice. 

 

FernLeaf students truly take ownership of our school and feel responsibility for its care. Duties are given in classrooms including weather reporting, trash patrol, feeding class animals, watering plants and general classroom care.

 

We also limit screen time, especially in the youngest grades. Community at FernLeaf includes not just our students and teachers, but families, our human and animal neighbors, and beyond.

 

Community is a foundation of FernLeaf’s mission, which is why we include it in our name. The School Events Committee helps create a culture of togetherness and compassion by cultivating experiences and traditions with real meaning. The thoughtfulness behind our school traditions builds authentic connection within our students, their families and our staff.  

The following are some examples of FernLeaf’s community building events:

Stone Soup

Stone Soup is one of our annual traditions at FernLeaf, which we celebrate together every November. The idea for Stone Soup stems from an old folk story in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys. The story teaches that sharing what we have also allows us to share joy with others. For our tradition, we all come together to hear a retelling of the folktale and cook a giant pot of Stone Soup in FernLeaf’s fire pit. We collect one ingredient from each student and place each item in the most gigantic cauldron. The classes take turns tending to the soup, stirring it with a massive wooden ladle. When the soup is ready, the students, staff, and families gather around the fire to hear the story of Stone Soup and enjoy a delicious cup of vegetable soup together.   

FernLeaf's Annual Stone Soup Celebration

A FernLeaf Community Potluck!

Community Potlucks

 

Community potlucks are an opportunity for our students, staff and families to come together to share a space, food and good company. These potlucks help build a stronger community and provide an opportunity for people to share their family's favorite dishes - as well as their own traditions.

Bearwallow Hike

One of our most beloved traditions at FernLeaf is our hike up Bearwallow Mountain. Prior to the hike, students are split into small groups (six to eight students) across all grade levels, and with their teams they spend a significant amount of time getting to know one another and building their hiking community as a team. The morning of our hike, school buses line-up on campus and the hikers fill the air with excitement. The groups are intentionally staggered on the trail to reduce our impact. After the one-mile hike to the summit, we get to enjoy the views from a bald mountain top that has an elevation of 4,232 feet. Fernleafers celebrate our hiking victory by bringing our school community together to sing songs and take an all-school photograph with a drone. So many memories and friendships are formed from this unique hiking experience.

A multi-age group of students making their way up Bearwallow Mountain!

Frond Fest

The Frond Fest, FernLeaf’s Annual Fundraiser, is our largest community event of the year. Our staff, families and the greater community come together for a fun-filled day of face-painting, live music, food trucks and bouncy houses. All proceeds from this festival are used to support our general education fund which provides supplies and materials for teachers and classrooms as well as improvements on our campus.

A FernLeaf student enjoying her time at Frond Fest.

LANGHORNE SLIM CONCERT

Langhorne Slim and the The Lost at Last Band with special guests Jill Andrews, The David Mayfield Parade and Haley Jane put on an incredible show as a fundraiser for FernLeaf! Our events and fundraising teams organized an afternoon family-friendly concert at Blue Ghost's Firefly Field. This concert was hosted by FernLeaf but was open to the public creating community not just in our school, but in our neighborhood as well. The ultimate goal was not just fun but also supporting our ongoing efforts to build community, spread the good word about our school, and provide families with amazing experiences. 

Other Examples of FernLeaf Community and Culture Building:

  • Morning Classroom Meetings every day instilling togetherness and community amongst classrooms.

  • Weekly staff meetings beginning with mindfulness and gratitude for each other.

  • Students and Families of FernLeaf Support Fund - donations used to support families in need.