Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

What are we growing?

What are we growing?


It seems like everybody in Portland was gardening Saturday. When I went to fill up the pickup bed with mulch in the morning, the line at the counter was deeper than I had ever seen it; when I went to unload a truck full of yard debris Sunday afternoon, I met a traffic jam of my fellow weekenders doing the same.

Between truckloads, I worked in the yard. For a piece of that time, I was joined by my sixteen year old daughter, who went to Opal School between second and fifth grade. She asked me about the project that has been filling my days and nights lately. When I told her that I was working on a grant to support working with neighboring districts to bring Opal’s approach to the vulnerable young people in their communities, she lit up.

That’s so important!  Opal School makes children know that their voice is important – that they have real gifts to share. It teaches you how to trust and collaborate. It’s a place where questions are important. I always felt like Opal was home. Those kids deserve that.

Now I’ve got to figure out how to plant that seed in the grant in a compelling enough way for it to take root…

2 responses to “What are we growing?

  1. As a former Opal parent, I cannot agree more with Matt’s brilliant 16-year-old daughter – Opal helps all children see the gifts they have to share.

    Opal celebrates what children have, not tells them what they don’t have. Many children and families living in poverty operate from a place of fear and shame. Opal can help all children and families come to know they DO have control over their lives, they DO have the ability to ask good questions and make good decisions. And the sense of competence and value this engenders will make any shame, any feeling of inadequacy, fall away.

    Nelson Mandela would have loved the Opal School – I think his words summarize Opal’s work beautifully: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

  2. Hi, Catherine –
    Welcome to the Opal School Blog! I’m looking forward to your continued readership and your active commentary.
    Fear and shame seems to be everywhere – it penetrates all socioeconomic strata and are characteristic of too many schools. Standing counter to that is part of what motivates Opal School.
    Love the Mandela quote!

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