Decatur Island has a one room school that has educated two of my children over the years in an amazing way. My oldest daughter went to the school in 4th grade, when she was in dire need of some lessons in self discipline. The teacher would often come by our house at the end of the school day and tell me she was taking my daughter home with her so she could finish her schoolwork at the teacher’s kitchen table, while “Teach” cooked dinner. She’d go on to say that she’d bring her home when she completed her work, if she got it done before dinner. If not, she could have dinner with them and she’d bring her home by bedtime. Bottom line was….no excuses! We, as parents loved her commitment and our daughter shaped up quickly.
Ten years later, my youngest enrolled in the school and attended it for nine years (K-8) and got a fabulous education. She transitioned into high school (on the mainland) seamlessly and just graduated from the U of W with BS in Forestry. I used to love visiting the school at recess and seeing her and the five other students playing and creating games using the trees, rocks and pine cones in fun, imaginative ways. Yes, fir branches can look like antlers and playing hop scotch with cones works great. The teacher/student ratio of 1:6 insured that a child was neverleft behind. Drama productions always included everybody, even when it meant learning all the dialog and songs for The Phantom of the Opera. Their knowledge of science, marine life, geography and literature was amazing and alumni students are always “first picks” for trivia teams, wherever they are.
In addition, the school is the center of our community where we have potlucks, market day, Wednesday women’s lunch, art auctions and many other events. It’s so fun to have everyone come together on those special occasions. I love how much the adults on the island love and support our children. This past year a group joined a book club with our student, Zoltan, and another couple did a study of the Yukon with him…complete with a gold panning expedition. We’ve sent our children on extensive field trips to England, Hawaii, Washington DC, the southern Atlantic states and many local attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium, Museum of Flight, Seattle Art Museum etc through community fund-raising.
Our teacher changed five years ago, but the quality of education has not. The school has top of the line technology tools and an incredible library of both fiction and nonfiction books. Current projects include a facebook page and a web site called, Every Living Thing on Decatur. The school is actively looking for more students and welcomes anyone to come for a visit and tour the facility. From my experience, you can’t find a better place to educate your children. In today’s busy world, children get pushed to grow up way too fast. On Decatur, they get a chance to be kids again…in the very best of ways.