An insiders look at Dunbar School
Today I share good news about Dunbar kids. A more blessed group of students would be hard to find. Their school is tops. Truly.
I thought that for sure when both our sons attended. Then, as they outgrew Dunbar, heading for the next round of public schools, my sweetie and I lost faith in our Valley schools. I don't regret the decisions we made then, but I've long wondered about Dunbar's current educational status. Certainly, the physical plant is the gem of our Valley, but was the education still top rate?
I first checked out Dunbar just before the Christmas holidays joining the students to watch the San Francisco Opera's performance of "La Cenerentola."
The students didn't waste time riding a bus to San Francisco, the opera came to them. The show featured young opera stars, along with a select few Dunbar students, in a classical rendition of the tale of Cinderella.
Think opera too elevated for elementary students? Wrong! They loved the show. The students sat drop-a-pin silent, attention focused on the dramatic action, then they laughed uproariously at the humorous parts. Entirely engaged in this simple production, Dunbar students are just the kind of audience that David Gockley seeks for every show.
Last week, I headed up to Dunbar for another day of observation. Continuing the theme of arts at Dunbar, my day ended watching Kate Kennedy's crew of almost 50 lively fifth-graders practicing for their annual melodrama, "Wrongful Doings at Woeful Ranch." Watching Kate corral these enthusiastic youngsters and turn them into engaging performers is a delight. Observing photographer Michael Brady (aka Salvador) and his sidekick Birdie (Noemi) blossom under Kate's care was a hoot. By show time (Memorial Day weekend), these two will wow the audience with flashes of light and puffs of smoke.
Meanwhile, Kate was understandably proud that all of her young charges were already "off book," a feat some adult actors don't accomplish until well into rehearsal.
But it isn't just the arts that thrive at Dunbar. Science education is alive and well. Earlier that day, I visited Karen O'Hara's second-third-combo class where visiting professor Shannon Lee held court. Yes, she was treated like visiting royalty. The students, in unison, welcomed Dr. Lee with respectful enthusiasm and offered rapt attention.
Dissecting squids incited the students' curiosity and they easily absorbed Shannon's scientific lessons that included morphology, anatomy, Latin nomenclature and delightful hands-on learning. It was science education at its best.
Next up was a visit to the Dunbar garden where Allisa Pearce led kindergarten students in that familiar bean sprouting experiment that most of us tackled in high school biology. Wow!
Dunbar School is dynamic, thriving and not merely the place I would (happily) recommend for all children, but exactly where I'd like to be if I were an elementary student.
My grateful thanks to Melanie Blake, Dunbar's principal, for allowing me this intimate look at our local school.
Meanwhile, Joanne Consiglieri sent news about former Dunbar alumnus, Bradley Dreyer, who is still dealing with the devastating consequences of his severe head injury from a 2009 skateboarding accident. Friends of the family are planning a benefit for Bradley on the Saturday evening before Mother's Day, May 7. It will be a grand party with good food, dancing to great bands (thanks to Dave Aguilar and friends) and lots of interesting auction items. Add this to your calendar and we'll have more news to share soon. Check out Bradley's current news on the website, www.caringbridge.org/. If you specifically seek more information about Brad's benefit, contact JoAnn at 996-0240 or her event co-chair, Patti England at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at the numbers up there by my smile. Or email me at email@example.com. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks before the run date.