In 1985, our eldest son, Spence, began kindergarden at Suquamish Elementary, the first year of his public school experience. Our youngest son, Jeff, was three years old then, and I had recently transitioned away from my nursing job in Seattle, to become a full-time “Home-Maker”. By a gift of good fortune, I was then able to begin studying Art, in the form of “material uses of Western Red Cedar” with our Suquamish neighbor Ed Carriere.
At the time, I had no plan or idea, of how this Western Red Cedar tree would become so important to me. Any opportunity for me to study with someone who had intimate knowledge of the fiber qualities of plants, was a gift I sought out, traveling to from Neah Bay to Alsea Oregon to find teachers willing to share their knowledge.
So now, after thirty years of learning and teaching, here I am back with Suquamish Elementary students. It was a great honor for me to be one of a host of teachers invited by Stillwaters, an environmental education organization located in Kingston, Washington. My Cedar Weaving class was one of the workshops that all 60 Suquamish Elementary 5th graders were able to experience during their stay at Camp Indianola.
I began my cultural-art training at Suquamish Elementary in my son’s kindergarten class, and this June, I am wrapping-up my elementary school teaching full circle with these energetic, thoughtful, and ultra capable young-people from Suquamish Elementary School.
I felt so much affection from these students since many I had met before when in their 2nd and 3rd grade classes when I taught them to make bird nests, and rattles. I had also worked with many of their older sibblings who were Pond Kids at Suquamish Elementary. I thank Kathkeen Ramsey for assisting me, all the teachers and parent volunteers from Suquamish, and all the great folks at Stillwaters. You are helping these students discover meaningful connections between art and science so they may create their own culture of environmental ethics.