There’s something going on at Molalla River Academy that speaks to the depths of what I believe is most important for our world. It has seeped into the school grounds so subtly it might have been missed. Yet it is also so apparent in all that the students, teachers, and community do that one cannot help but be inspired by it:
Molalla River Academy is becoming an intentional community of life-long learners who care about each other and the world.
A little background – Molalla River Academy (MRA) is a public charter school in rural Oregon that focuses on thematic studies through the arts and sciences. It has been my teaching home the past three years where I have laughed and learned with my 6-8th grade science and 6th grade Language Arts students. While the teaching and curriculum are unique, they are not what I find most inspirational about the school.
My personal passions and core beliefs have manifested in various roles throughout my life thus far. Whether you know me as a teacher or a pastor, as a mentor or a friend, I strive to be a part of creating intentional community in all aspects of my life. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s downright arduous, even painful. But I believe that when people come together with a shared set of values and strive to really get to know each other, the world becomes a little bit better of a place.
This drive to help create connection is why my husband and I decided to join the Peace Corps. We want to create safe spaces in which people can share stories and grow professionally. We want to share our own stories and cultivate relationships. We want to be a part of building bridges between human experiences.
I have learned so much about creating and being a community through my time as a teacher at MRA. “Thank you” doesn’t seem strong enough to express the sincere gratitude I have for the students, parents, and staff who have helped mold me into the teacher and person I am today. I will carry their stories and lessons with me not only as I travel to Nicaragua, but throughout my life as a teacher.
Today was my last day at MRA. As hard as it is to say goodbye, I’m overcome today with gratitude for all of my experience there. I’m thankful for the challenges. For the growth. For the laughter. For the support. For the chance to learn myself what teaching and learning are really all about. I have as much hope for the future of MRA as I do respect for the current staff and community who have put their everything into this school. While my journey at MRA has come to an end, I will think of the students, staff, and community often and check in when I can.
May the process of becoming compassionate, responsible, life-long learners continue to challenge and inspire MRA, as much as it has me these last three years.