Kenwood Press

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Glen Ellen Telegram: 11/01/2020

Thoughts from the darkness

TTC’s AJ Ackleson (left) and Erika Conway taught in-person classes at Dunbar last year. This year’s arts enrichment will be via Zoom for now.

Well here I am in the dark, winds shaking my windows, surrounded by the sound of generators, and no rain in sight… It seems that this is just the way at least part of fall goes these days. I truly hope that this end of October 'historic wind' event is uneventful overall for our valley, county, and region. Let's all put out the vibe for moisture to come our way soon.

The weirdness of 2020 - Part 1

The second Sunday of October came and went with no Village Fair and yet our community was graced that morning with a drive-by caravan of vehicles organized by the Devils' Darlings. Folks came to the ends of driveways or walked to viewing spots along Arnold Drive to see them come through. What a treat! Later in the day some music was being played down in town. Glen Ellen Fair Association President, Leslie Vaughn, was quick to point out that neither the car cruise nor the music was organized by the fair nonprofit, but they did indeed run the quilt raffle. As is tradition, at 5 p.m. the winning ticket was picked and quickly announced on social media. The winner of the quilt was long-time fair volunteer Janie Soto! The entire fair committee wants to thank everyone for expressing their continued support of the community, and the annual event, through shared personal messages and memories, direct donations, and raffle ticket purchases. Even without an event, more than $1,000 was raised during this season. As always, the proceeds will go back into the community. The donation recipients will be announced soon. If you'd like information on the fair or to be part of the planning team for next year, reach out via email to or send a message via Facebook at their Glen Ellen Village Fair page.

The weirdness of 2020 - Part 2

Virtual schooling continues here in the valley with some rumblings of a transition back to the classroom within the coming month(s?) as Sonoma County, hopefully, makes its way off the purple tier COVID designation. I reached out recently to Dunbar Elementary School principal Jillian Beall who wrote “I continue to be inspired by the level of engagement of our scholars in their virtual classes and am so appreciative to our families for their partnership in distance learning. I am also in awe of our staff and how quickly they have risen to this challenge of distance learning!” She explained the key elements that they are focusing on: continuing to build community and connection, building on strengths and recognizing scholars in their learning, opportunities to feel the school spirit even from home, and material pick-up days via drive through (a favorite among staff and students because it provides an opportunity for brief interaction). The school is in year three of AVID Elementary, a wholistic program that focuses on fostering a college and career readiness culture through the adoption of class colleges and vertical articulation of WICOR (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading). “One of our fifth-grade classes just held their first virtual philosophical chairs; identifying whether they agree or disagree with a claim and then justifying their reasons before participating in a discussion with their peers. Our Kinder class also participated in a variety of virtual 'Would you Rather?' activities, in which students respond to an inquiry and give reasons for their response.” School may be different, but connection and growth are happening at Dunbar.

You might remember me writing about arts happenings at Dunbar last year and the evolution of the Melodrama? Unfortunately, the pandemic stuck a wrench in those spring plans, but Transcendence Theatre Company is still at it and producing amazing virtual arts education content and academic support for Dunbar and beyond. I circled back around with TTC's Director of Education and Community Engagement, Nikko Kimzin, and discovered that their exit surveys from last year's pilot program showed tremendous enthusiasm from both students and teachers. Grades 3 through 5 really wanted to write more scripts and to perform, whereas the 1st and 2nd graders said 'no writing' but loved story telling with their bodies (no parents are surprised by these findings, lol). As soon as everything went virtual in the spring TTC started creating a learn-at-home program that consisted of 16 different video lessons complete with lesson plans in both English and Spanish. These were provided for free to the Sonoma Valley Unified School District but then went national and were used in inner city Chicago, Boston, and Mobile, Alabama. The videos and supporting material were also put up on Teachers Pay Teachers for purchase by any looking for arts content. This year TTC has been awarded a California Arts Council Grant for their work at Dunbar and an original play has been developed. “We are very excited to eventually have the opportunity to make that happen,” Nikko said.

This month is the fall kick off for the version 2.0 arts program at Dunbar. Grades 3-5 will receive arts integrated ELD instruction twice a week for 6 weeks. Grades 1 and 2 will have access to virtual arts recess twice a week over that same span. Just like last year, the effervescent dynamic duo of AJ Ackleson and Erika Conaway will be leading the lessons, it's just that this time, for now, it will be via ZOOM. If any parents are interested, another recess program is available outside of Dunbar, for a price or with the potential for scholarships, if needed. Much of their programmatic material is perfect for homeschooling or other 'pod' arrangements. Anyone wanting more information should be directed to the TTC website:

The future looks bright

Earlier this fall I heard a rumor that an Eagle Scout was going to be embarking on their service project and had chosen Dunbar School as their site. Through friends Bret and Dawn McIntyre (TK/Kindergarten teacher at Dunbar) I was put in touch with a fine young man named Tiernan Colby. Tiernan is a member of Troop 16 of Sonoma and is going for scouting's highest rank. His project involves a tie-in with the school garden rebuild (still in process after the 2017 fires). Specifically, he is designing and spearheading the building of a stone entrance and path for the garden. He is hoping that the project will be completed during November, or at least before the rainy season begins. Tiernan wrote, “I am really invested in the project because I am able to help a local public school which was affected by the fire. I personally know the value that a garden area in elementary school can provide to young students, and I know the importance of restoring important aspects of one's community after destructive fires. Gardens can build a sense of community for the school and provide a great learning space. Given that I have a fair bit of time before I age out of scouts, I want to complete a project that is meaningful to me.” I look forward to seeing this project's completion and seeing more words from this young man in the future.

The buzz from around the bend

Wear a mask

A friendly reminder to support our local businesses! If you can shop local coming into this holiday season, please do. Get take-out or dine on the patio of one of our fabulous restaurants. The Mill is serving on the deck. Jack London Lodge's Alton is now serving brunch on the patio (which we took advantage of today - it was lovely!)

The projects' committee of the Glen Ellen Forum has been at it again. Have you noticed the colorful 'wear your masks' reminders? A great message with some original creative artwork. (See above.)

The Glen Ellen Forum's next monthly meeting will be held via ZOOM on Monday Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m. The link to the meeting is at and will be promoted on the Facebook page. To stay up to date with the happenings, request to join the mailing list at

Do you have any Glen Ellen stories to share? Milestones? Celebrations? Email, or call 996-3352.

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