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GrassRoots Middle

We are taking GrassRoots off the paper and bringing her to forests across Georgia. And I couldn't be more excited.

In 2019,  I had just moved to Georgia, quit my education reform job, had a one-year-old (home) and a five-year-old (in a Waldorf ECC program), and was headed into a Sabbatical. My intention for Shalom & Polepole was to share my journey towards slowing down to respect and honor the interconnectedness of land, animals, humanity, and all of God's creation. The rush of today's society created a rift between humanity and one another and the earth, and it broke my heart. The impatience, the fast fashion, ignoring genocides, looking past ecocides, massive waste, overconsumption of natural resources, forced child labor, the killing of bees, road rage, and constant anxiousness all felt like symptoms of disconnectedness. This disconnectedness felt far from the wholeness, harmony, and peace (Shalom) I read about.


Since then, Ashley and I have created Gather Forest School, Mike and I have begun full-time homeschooling our sons (6 + 10), cultivated a loving friendship group and church community, and grown in my conviction of environmental-based education. Some of my slowness and thoughtfulness have ebbed and flowed as I have accumulated responsibilities. But gratefully, I am never doing this work alone, and each time I start moving too fast, something or someone brings me back.


However, this next project feels like the connection and extension of all my experiences: middle school teacher, eco-educator, social justice advocate, environmentalist, writer, and homeschool mama.


 


Where does the name GrassRoots Middle come from?

 

Before Gather Forest School, my cousin Mia and I wanted to cultivate a community of BIPOC parents who wanted to provide their children with an education in nature, navigate the lack of diversity in the nature-based space, and understand the stewardship of the earth. I loved the name "GrassRoots" for our group because it plays on how a movement starts, the growth of children, the experimental + gritty experience, and nature. Her passion for supporting mamas and children took her down the road of being a doula, alkaline vegan chef, and herbalist. At the same time, my path led to Ashley and Gather Forest School. "Middle" because y'all know we adore some middle school students (9-13 years old). Mike has coached middle school children in both basketball and football. And I taught middle school throughout my teaching career. This program is about experiencing nature's awe and beauty while exploring the world in-depth through Science (life sciences - botany, zoology, biology) and Social Studies (geography, history, and civics).  


 


GrassRoot's Mission, Vision, and Purpose


We are a Black-centered Eco-program focused on:

  • Examining the essentialism and interconnectedness of civic and environmental engagement

  • Respecting the formative years and development of middle school children

  • Cultivating and upholding the feeling of wonder, especially that from and in nature.

  • Recognizing and amplifying the histories and accomplishments of Black people

  • Exploring the benefits of play-based and nature education beyond the elementary years.


Black-centered, all our materials, books, events, and resources are designed with black children in mind, creating a space where Black middle school children feel liberated, safe, celebrated, and have a sense of belonging.


In the Eco-Program (Forest Schoolish), students will learn outdoors most of the time, only retreating indoors during storms or exciting field trips. We plan to travel across Georgia to explore and gain hands-on experience in Social Studies and Science.


Here to another layer of this beautiful journey!

Shalom, my friends and thank you for walking beside me.

Shelby

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