Empowering future leaders

KAPA‘A — A small and select group of students on Kaua‘i is ahead of the curve when it comes down to understanding shared leadership and democratic process, thanks to a school model that has been around for more than four decades. To help replenish the schools’ tuition assistance fund, students, parents and staff will be holding a rummage sale today.

Open Source Learning opened at All Saints Gym in Kapa‘a four years ago, modeled after the original Sudbury Valley School, founded in 1968, according to Maia Gallo, who joined Open Source as a full-time teacher this year, bringing a load of experience from teaching at a Sudbury-modeled school on the Mainland.

“When they graduate from these Sudbury-model schools, they will have a deeper understanding of themselves and skills to move forward into their next step in life,” Gallo said.

The Sudbury model emphasizes freedom and democracy, and gives students the opportunity to develop a passion for learning, according to Gallo.

Open Source is a democratically run school, where children ages 6 to 17 take charge of their own education in a healthy and supportive environment, according to the school’s official website. Students decide how to use their time, develop a curriculum, participate in democratic votes, cultivate trust and responsibility by being part of a judicial body, elect staff and allocate funding, and determine how they can best learn.

“By participating in a working democracy, students develop the ability to make clear logical arguments and learn how to deal with complex ethical issues,” the website states.

The school is private, and there is a cost involved. But pretty much all students at Open Source receive some tuition assistance, Gallo said.

“Any family wishing to enroll a student can come, regardless of funds,” she said. “We are committed to never turn away a student for lack of funds.”

In order to keep helping families with the tuition assistance the school is having a large rummage sale today at All Saints Gym, Gallo said.

Students kept busy the entire school-day Friday by sorting out donations and setting up the sale. Gallo said there will be lots of children’s clothing — and some for the grownups too — and plenty household stuff, toys, holiday decoration, paintings and even a bake sale.

And if you don’t want to buy anything, you can still help by having your car washed, as the children will be working for their education, literally.

The rummage sale will open at 8 a.m. and will go until 2 p.m.

Open Source Learning operates at All Saints Gym at 4-1051 Kuhio Hwy., Kapa‘a, surrounded by a large grassy area, with a stream nearby and several mature tress on the backside.

The original Sudbury Valley School is in Framingham, Mass., operating in an old stone mansion and a converted barn on the mid-19th century Bowditch estate, according to the school’s website. Their 10-acre campus adjoins extensive conservation lands.

There are 24 known Sudbury-model schools in the United States, and 14 in the rest of the world, with three additional schools soon to open in Canada, Japan and Netherlands, according to the Sudbury Valley School website.

Open Source Learning is Kaua‘i’s only Sudbury-model school and one of the only two in the state. The other school in Hawai‘i is Dragonfly Learning Environment in Pahoa, Big Island.

Visit www.openkauai.com or call Gallo at (302) 542-8022 for more information about Open Source Learning.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.


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