Educators fire up kids with after school classes

MIDDLEBURY — Susan Borg and Richard Nessen have already made an impact on education in the Middlebury area. Borg founded the Quarry Hill School in 1974, while Nessen helped establish the Bridge School in 1980. Both have placed a premium on teaching to individual students rather than trying to tailor subject matter to a large class.
It is a successful technique they would like to see passed on. But change in the education field rarely comes overnight.
“We have not seen a big enough or fast enough change in this direction in the public schools,” Borg said.
With that in mind, Borg, Nessen and some fellow educators recently joined forces to create “Numina,” a new nonprofit after-school program that will, according to publicity materials, feature “topics kids want to explore, taught by teachers who are both passionate about the subject they teach and skilled in finding and valuing each student’s Numen, their spark of genius or divinity.”
Numina will also offer a website containing an “Educational Resource Bank” that teachers, parents and students will be able to mine (for free) for information about school and learning resources in Addison County.
And Numina’s learning opportunities aren’t confined to children. This fall’s debut trimester includes a course for adults, titled “Educating the Nervous System.” Taught by Borg and Liz Heron, this course — the first of many planned for parents and teachers — will help explain neurological difficulties like ADHD, autism spectrum, dyslexia or attachment disorder. Participants in this class will have the opportunity to learn how learning happens, how pressure of various sorts affects a person’s ability to learn, and what practical things they can do to help themselves and their children learn.
A fourth branch of Numina is still on the drawing board: A home where young adults who experience various learning difficulties can learn job-readiness and independence skills.
For now, Numina organizers are firming up the educational database and are getting ready to roll out the fall trimester classes, most of which begin next week and will span into mid-November, including a “Wilderness School” that will impart such skills as tracking and identifying various flora and fauna; “Blood and Guts,” a vivid study of how the bones, muscles and organs work; “The Art Garden,” which will incorporate art in a cooperative play setting; and “Video Superstars,” which will give students the opportunity to write, direct and act in multiple videos.
All of the kids’ classes are geared toward elementary school students and young teens. They will be held in such venues as the Bridge School, the Quarry Hill School and Wright Park, all in Middlebury; the Open Sky Studio and the Hub in Bristol; and the Willowell land in Monkton. Tuition varies, but most of the kids’ classes cost $110 for the 10-week trimester.
Students and parents will be responsible for getting students to the Numina class venues. Addison County Transit Resources’ bus service could help in that regard, organizers said.
Maurice Bissonnette of Starksboro will be leading the Numina Wilderness School, offering opportunities for kids and teens to “explore the woods and wild places, get dirty, tell stories and share adventures,” according program literature. Bissonnette has become an old hand at such activities, as he has been directing a wilderness school for the past seven years.
“It’s about getting the kids out into nature, using all of their senses to connect as best they can with water, animals and plants,” Bissonnette said.
He has given his programs creative names, like “Zombie Day,” to provide a magnet for kids. Once there, they invariably get hooked, learning about such things as animal tracking and edible medicinal plants. Bissonnette is essentially reigniting in children some old survival customs.
“These are things we have been doing for 10,000 years, but recently stopped,” Bissonnette said. “(The instinct) is still there.”
Joe Schine, after-school programs coordinator at the Bridge School, is assembling Numina’s educational resource bank. It will be at www.numinavt.org, which on Wednesday was still under construction. Schine also plans to teach some of Numina’s programs, beginning in the winter trimester with classes focusing on artistic expression, movement and dance.
“Joe Schine, who grew up here in Middlebury … has been the engine behind the creation of our website,” Borg said.
“The intention for (the website) is to be a free and easy place for people in Addison County to go to learn how to do anything.”
People who are interested in learning more about Numina are encouraged to visit the website, numinavt.org, to call Susan Borg at 453-7395 or to email [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Op/Ed Uncategorized

Hector Vila: The boundaries of education

There is a wide boundary between the teacher and the student, found most profoundly in col … (read more)

Naylor & Breen Uncategorized

Naylor & Breen Request for Proposals

Naylor and Breen 042524 2×4.5 OCCC RFP

Share this story: