Spiral of Light at AVA – December 17th 2015

The Spiral of Light celebration at AVA is a long standing and much beloved event observing the dark days of the coming winter and the delight in the return of light in the spring. This event always occurs on the evening of the last Thursday before school ends for the winter break and is open to AVA alumni, guests, family and the extended AVA community.

A huge spiral of pinSpiral_Choire boughs is built in the back yard, a labyrinth of sweet smelling pine fills the air and boughs fill the yard. In the center of the spiral is an unlit fire.

In the darkened yard parents and guests wait the arrival of the children.  Slowly the children enter the yard in single file, their beautiful young voices joined in song – their gift to us all.

As the singing comes to a close and quiet fills the air a lone figure enters the Spiral, winding slowly into the center to light the central fire, then one by one, alone, the children enter the Spiral with their own darkened candle lanterns. Upon reaching the centerSpiral_Offering their candle is ignited and they begin the slow journey back out into their community, setting their candle down amidst the spiral of boughs along the way. As each child processes through the Spiral the candle lanterns grow in number until, at last, all of the children have walked in and out and the entire way is lit by the twinkling of bright candle lanterns. Each child walks alone, at his or her own pace, in his or her own way. This is a celebration of
growing independence, quiet confidence, of carrying light in darkness, of sharing our light with others.

This beautiful event closes with an invitation to the community to reflect on the year that is drawing to a close. To reflect on what we’ve experienced and learned. All are invited to take their own journey into the Spiral of Light and cast into the fire anything they may want to release, making way for new growth in the year to come.

This magical event is breathtakingly beautiful and not to be missed!

Free Swap Meet – Everyone Welcome!

swap meet

Please join us on Sunday, October 11th, from 10 – 2, for a free, family swap meet!

Root through your closets, cabinets and the neglected corners of your home, pile all that unwanted clutter into the car and bring it all to Austin Village Academy for a day of socializing and swapping!

Find new cloths for those constantly growing children, new fashions for the trend setters, reading material, bric-a-brac and get a head start on your holiday shopping. It’s an especially great shopping experience for the kids, as there’s no money involved. Independence for the kids – yay!

And, if you’ve been wondering what school is like at Austin Village Academy, this is a perfect opportunity to meet the members of our community and to get your questions answered.

All items left at the end of the swap meet will be donated to Safe Place, benefiting families in need.

See you all soon!

Keeping the Light of Learning Alive

Don’t you know how, when children are young, they are SO curious and eager and every experience is a learning experience?

Getting dressed, putting shoes on (often on the wrong feet!), getting ketchup out of the bottle. “Why is this like that”, “why are the whatsiwhoozit’s blue, not orange” “What if we did it this way instead of that way” “Here, let ME do it!”

It’s incessant. Nuts making at times!

It’s the natural tendency of human beings to explore, to wonder and to try out new ways of doing things. We can’t help it – we are just designed to learn. It’s like a game for us, isn’t it?

So what happens? Why do young people seem to become resistant to learning? Why does the light go out? Why is it SO hard for them to get ready for school in the morning?!

There are many theories and reasons, and elements of truth to all of them. My personal experience is that the natural love of learning diminishes when it’s met with such strange animals as “classroom management”, “grades” and “test scores”. When answers are good only if they’re “right” and blurting out in excitement is met with a stern look or chastisement. When ones emotional health and well being are considered to be separate from ones intellectual learning.

If the emotional environment is attended to; if the classroom is a world of “what if”, and “hmmm, let’s try that out and see”, if all answers and musings might lead somewhere and students are free to contribute, share and wonder aloud, then watch out! The fun of learning will kick back into high gear and who knows where it will lead?

Treating people with respect and compassion, creating classes that are interactive, engaging and hands on, allowing the interests of the students to inspire the direction of the class, providing leadership opportunities for children through the many stages of their growth and development – this is a recipe for keeping the light of learning alive. Years of experience has shown that kids who learn in an environment of trust, respect and compassion thrive as young adults. They have a strong sense of their own values, they are confident in asking questions, and in working towards long term goals. Their natural love of learning is vibrant and alive and they enter high school and college with a personal commitment to their own continuing education. And that’s what we want for them, right?

I am just SO excited to be embarking on another year of learning and growing with the young people at Austin Village Academy!

Cheryl Kruckeberg
Austin Village Academy

2014-04-03_10-36-08_713 Research Projects

Hearthbag House Cottage

Earthbag House Spring Break Camp and Workshop!

Are you interested in natural building techniques? Do you want to build your own Tiny House, studio, guest cottage or backyard sanctuary?

Join Austin EcoSchool and EarthbagHouse in this exciting Spring Break camp and workshop series for adults and children!  Thea Bryant from the EarthbagHouse and the Natural Neighborhood Coalition, is coming to the Austin EcoSchool campus to lead two natural building workshops.

Let’s get dirty, have fun and learn some stuff!

Tiny Earthen Cottage Workshop: March 21- 22
For Adults (Children of registered adults welcome)
Come learn how to build this Japanese style, Cozy Cottage. The finished size of this delightful little cottage is 5 ft x 6ft x7 ft, and is built on a trailer for easy transport. The finished Cottage will be on display at Austin Earth Day and Austin Maker Faire.

A real hands-on, getting dirty, learning  experience. Techniques include:
  • Earthen wall building with local clay rich ‘mud’
  • Joinery of wood with clay infill
  • Natural plasters
  • Running electricity in natural walls
  • Building light-clay-straw walls
  • Legalities of Tiny Houses and trailers

Saturday and Sunday, March 21-22, 9am-4pm
Location: Eco School, 4105 Manchaca Rd, Austin, 78704
Tuition:  $175/adult   $50/child
Family style lunch included
This is a family friendly workshop. Child friendly activities and supervision will be provided and children are welcome to join parents in the building as they are able.

Read more and registration

Earthen Dome Playhouse Camp: March 18, 19 and 20

For Children: Ages 7 – 12
Kids will work together to build a small earthen dome playhouse complete with a rain water collection system and will learn about beehives too! Children learn about sustainability while playing, getting along, and getting dirty!
Join in the adventure of simple survival fort building, teamwork and nature skills with a real fort as an accomplishment!


WednesdayFriday, 9 – 3pm March 18 – 20 $195
Extended care available from 3:00 – 5:30pm, $20/day
Location: Austin EcoSchool, 4105 Manchaca Rd. 78704

Read more and registration

Habibi’s Hutch Update

The middle school is visiting Habibi’s Hutch, which is a nearby preschool, Thursday mornings to read and play with children. Here are a few students’ perspectives on the fun:

Leighton (age 12):  Habibi’s Hutch was awesome and great. The kids bring so much joy to me. They are so sweet, colorful, artistic, and musical. Did I mention they are absolutely adorable and very creative and interesting? Reading and playing with them is so fun.  I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

Aisling (age 11): We went and are going to Habibi’s Hutch to read and play with the small, adorable, tiny, little innocent children. It is like a kiddy wonderland: there is a bubble machine, colored sand, fans, music, toys, bikes, wagons, and swings. When we sit down to read, the kids swarm you and ask to read the same book over and over again. I have made 3 little friends at Habibis, one of which ran up to me as soon as we walked in the door. All the little kids are always hanging around us, it is like we are magnets the second we walk in. Habibis Hutch is so fun and the kids radiate playfulness. I wish we could go every Thursday for the rest of the year!

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