Floyd’s independent Blue Mountain School is celebrating its 30th anniversary at the school on May 19th. The school is putting together a book of photos and memories for the occasion. The following is my contribution, as a BMS parent and parent teacher for many years.
It was Blue Mountain School and the CERC (Community Educational Cooperative) that brought me to Floyd in the spring of 1985. A native of Boston Massachusetts’s South Shore, I was living in Texas with my two young sons, Josh and Dylan, and my first husband when Floyd County came to my attention, more than once in a few weeks time. We were in Texas for the work opportunities during the construction boom of the 70’s and never expected to be there for seven years. I had been reading books about the earth changes, including one on Edgar Cayce’s predictions, along with other books on homesteading and self-reliance. I read The Aquarian Conspirators, earned subscriptions to Mothering magazine with my writing and was a subscriber of John Holt’s pioneering home-schooling newsletter Growing Without Schooling.
It was in Growing without Schooling that I first heard about Floyd. I saw a letter from Floyd Countian Jennifer Siep describing the ERC/Educational Resource Cooperative (later renamed the CERC) collective filing of paperwork in order to homeschool local kids. I was exploring educational options for my young sons and, as a mother educated in Early Childhood Education and attachment parenting, I didn’t intend to send them off on a school bus to have their heads filled with stuff that someone else decided was important.
Soon after seeing Jennifer’s letter, the national directory I had sent away for on Waldorf Schools around the country came in the mail. Blue Mountain School was listed, causing me to ask myself ‘what is it about this place Floyd?’ I wrote a letter to the school and waited for a reply, assuming it would come from a secretary on BMS letterhead.
Months later, after I had forgotten about the letter, I received a hand-written response from BMS parent Bob Grubel, saying my letter sat on his kitchen table for a long while before he had a chance to write back and tell me about Floyd and the community farm he lived on called Zephyr. From his description, and from the ERC newsletter he sent (which I would later work on and rename “A Museletter), I knew it was THE place, sight unseen. I wanted to live with those other Aquarian Conspirators, those like- minded people I could home-school my kids with and learn more about community and holistic living from.
Moving to Floyd felt like a calling, like one foot was already here and I just had to drag the other one across country, while pulling a U-haul with all our stuff in it. When we drove through Riner and smelled the cow manure, we had second thoughts, but when we met the folks at Zephyr, hugs were exchanged all around and it felt magical. I was struck by how everyone in the community seemed so familiar.
Soon after our arrival in the spring of ’85, I attended an Easter celebration at the school when it was located in a rented house next to Moran’s store. I was already teaching creative writing to Floyd homeschoolers, and by the fall of that same year I began volunteer teaching one day a week in the new BMS building, even before we enrolled my eldest son at the age of eight. I continued to volunteer, teaching all the classes, for a break in tuition throughout both my sons’ enrollments, until they each chose to start public school (sixth grade).
From 1985 to 1993, the students and I put together a monthly newsletter called The Dolphin Messenger. It featured student’s interviews, stories, poems, artwork, mazes, fake advertisements, cartoons, word searches and more. Decorating the front page using ink stamps from my extensive collection was always a coveted job that one student took on each month. I also put together a BMS calendar, using the best of the Dolphin Messenger, which was sold as a fundraiser at the Barter Faire each year.
I remember the BMS as the center of the alternative community back then, along with swimming at Zephyr pond in the summer, summer solstice at River Flow and Sunday night Open Mic at the Pine Tavern. We held New Moon Gatherings, work days, circus day, Spanish night and more at the school. I fondly remember teaching young girls jump rope songs, watching the dramatic plays the students put on and being impressed by those amazing fort villages the kids built in the pine woods one year. Colleen Redman
Post notes: My sons are pictured on the right in photo 3 (Josh) and in the back left in photo 4 (Dylan). And it’s a small world in Floyd. I know all the other kids and have watched them all grow up.