Our meetings and the magic of our visit in Christchurch was all arranged by this fantastic woman, Jocelyn Papprill (left). Through a recommendation, we had met with Jocelyn when we first arrived in Christchurch in late October. She was passionate, smart, connected, dialed in and in all other ways, fantastic! By the time we returned on the 5th, she had arranged several meetings and the Listening Session.
Our first meeting was with Jillian Heald, a Guardian of the Secondary Futures Project. From our meeting we learned that New Zealand has been studying how to change their secondary education for more than six years. The research they had done was creative, inventive and insightful and geared toward the year 2023. Amazing.
Then we met with Gaike Knottenbelt, the Principal of Seven Oaks Education Centre. They are a brand new school that is launching early next year. The school will work with young people to begin with and they hope to expand into secondary education when they can. The cool thing about Seven Oaks is that its core principal is sustainability! The have an amazing amount of land that had been previously used as a garden/horticultural center and so the young people who attend will be out doors most of the day learning about sustainability through experience! Gaike is a passionate, big-hearted, visionary and the kind of person we would all like to have our kids be learning from. We are sending them wonderful energy and hope that their opening is a huge success. You can check out their effort at
We also met with Vicki Buck, the founder of a new elementary school called Discovery and a new high school called the Unlimited School. Her vision and the high school's scope were really different from most public schools and it felt like being back in the alternative school I taught in many years ago in Richmond, VA called the Open High School. The next day we visited the school and loved it.
That led us into the Listening Session, where we met six fantastic young people: Pip, Morgan, Max, Cobi, Julia, and Holly. We also had a teacher named Lee, a parent/counselor , Glenyse, and Jocelyn participating. Following the last listening session, while we traveled along the roads, Stella and I had created new questions that were more focused on community, physical environment, the individual, education and spirituality, so this group was our first test of the questions. Their answers were amazing! Then they divided up and created two wonderful paintings and concepts. One was our first circular painting! All photos will be posted as soon as we receive the permission forms in the mail! I will get the painting photos up shortly.
We made many good friends and it made our last day in New Zealand awesome!