Green School Bali is well-known for educating for sustainability and its bamboo architecture, but at its heart beats a vibrant community on a shared mission.
Kate Druhan, Head of Community and Environment and known as the holder of the Green School Bali community, explains more of what this means, as now, more than ever, we all need nourishment, a sense of belonging and an educational model that is relevant, relationship-centred and real.
What does community mean to you?
I guess we all have an innately human need to belong – this is the basic fuel for community-building. But for me, the community is more than just belonging. Belonging is the start. It’s the safety net that supports us, the warm arms that envelop us and help us to feel connected beyond our families and our work. Defining what the Green School community requires a redefinition of the word community itself. It is something more than sharing a common location or fellowship with others. We transcend physical locations and a simple shared belief in a progressive approach to education. We share something much more powerful and very real. We know the power of the collective. We nourish this and go out of our way to give everyone a voice. This can be scary for a school to do, but boldly embracing community building is the future. Parents, students, staff, and teachers – everyone has the chance to give and receive kindness and support from each other. And from this community baseline, we activate projects, harness the talent that lies within, learn from each other, and use our collective effort to make a difference in the world. It’s pretty amazing to watch this in action and at this time in the world, it seems that we need it more than ever.
Why is community so important to a progressive school like Green School Bali?
We quite simply wouldn’t be the school we are if we did not nourish our community. We get the best ideas when we are open to new ways and to tap into the collective “hive”. Our community is fascinating. Every profession; entrepreneurs, artists, risk-takers and academics – are all represented in the grown-ups of Green School Bali. Not opening space for dialogue, for new ideas to be activated, for input, for the cross-fertilisation of learning for everyone, would be a huge missed opportunity. But it takes real work to facilitate meaningful community building and for yielding great outcomes for the benefit of all. The work needs to be intentional and enduring. It doesn’t necessarily happen organically, it needs to be curated and can be complex and confronting at times.
Finding help when needed and having the chance to help someone else is where it starts. It’s about trust and the safety net of belonging. From there great things can happen. To move progressively into this space, schools need to open-up, think about the potential of the collective, create space for this to happen, get intentional on how to create meaningful connections and not be afraid to blur the lines between stakeholders in the community – the teachers, parents, students, and staff – because that is where the magic lies.
Why do you feel focusing on a community is so important in education?
Because if we want to make the world a better place for our children, empower our children and be true to our mission, we must join forces. There is a lot of power in kindness and a lot of opportunity in collaboration. The energy of the collective can never be underestimated. It’s where the solutions get discovered. It’s where love lies. And the world needs plenty of both!
What are you most proud of in the Green School Community especially during the last three months of the global pandemic?
I have seen the most remarkable and yet unsurprising initiatives come from our community during the past few months. Our values have served us and others well during the crisis. I have seen totally community-driven initiatives roll-out over the past few months. From food banks to, fundraising, care packages, to making and distributing masks, sharing resources and information, as well as mentoring students through these challenging times. I’m not at all surprised but I’m more in love than ever with our community members (young and old). They have rallied with resilience, love and kindness when needed the most.
As a Green School parent of three, one alumni, one graduate of the Class of 2020 (during the pandemic), and one high school student, what have you most learned during this experience?
That self-awareness, self-belief and an ability to find purpose in whatever you choose or need to do with your life at the various stages is the most priceless gift that education can give. Having well-rounded, curious, adaptable, and creative thinkers are something I will always be grateful for. The relationship between students and teachers is always so critical and during recent times we’ve seen just how essential this is to the wellbeing of the child. I’ve known this for many years, but if I needed a reminder on just how incredible Green School Bali teachers are, I have just had it!
What does the Green School Bali Community of 2020-2021 look like?
We are excited that we are open for learning as of August 2020, with a creative and adapted program for now. Like most international schools, we have felt the pain of travel restrictions and after 12 years of growth, we will be starting the year as a smaller school. But smaller does not mean “less”, and we will be bringing our students back to learning, back to the jungle and wall-less bamboo learning spaces with a renewed appreciation for each other. For our students currently outside of Bali, we will be bringing the learning to them, wherever they are in the world through distance learning, for the time being. I think our entire community is now counting down the nights of sleep to the new school year! So I say, bring on the fresh new school year. Bring on the community of 2020-2021. Bring on the love and the collective power of a community to rise, and not only get through this time but grow through this time. Green School’s mission is after all: “A Community Of Learners, Making Our World Sustainable”.