Saturday, December 15, 2012

Things I love about the Totem school

Today's science lesson was taught by Phil, the heating and cooling technician, who walked the kids around the site showing them how heating ducts work.

Their music class (playing recorders) is being taught by Annette, one of Totem's musicians, who is an international specialist in recorder techniques.

Phys Ed for the last two months (trampoline) has been taught by Zhan Yordanov, a Russian bar flyer and a world champion trampolinist.

They've spent time painting shoes in the costume department, learning about Totem's rigging at the Royal Albert Hall, and doing cooking projects in the kitchen.

Their field trips these past few months have included kayaking on the Charles River in Boston, wrapping Christmas presents at the Salvation Army in Atlanta, and the visiting the National Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

While I know that all schools have great assembly programs brought in, and exciting field trips, I feel like our school does an excellent job of utilizing the unique talents and skills of our extended touring family, and also delving into the cities we're visiting.

And as far as academics...

At the ages of 8 and 9, Baz and Ayla are getting the hang of French verb conjugations.  (they both speak French now quite comfortably, but it's time to clean up the grammar)

Their teachers are tough on them.  No easy A's are given, and Baz received his first F on a test this past month, teaching him a valuable lesson about studying.  The teachers are also no-nonsense about behavior, and we get reports if they are disorganized, distractable, or inconsiderate.  

There is very little wasted time in their school days.  They are never lost in the crowd or slipping through the cracks.  In their individualized curricula, they are measured against themselves, and are continually nudged to do better.

They eat lunch every day (for free of course) in Totem's kitchen, and must eat protein, vegetables and grains at every meal.  Though they choose white rice, raw carrots and deli turkey a bit too often, this is way better than what they would be eating in any other school.  And everyone else around them partakes of the delicious, healthy variety of foods offered each day - a great influence.

We are not constantly hearing about budget cuts, staffing cuts and limited resources.  Our kids have the supplies they need (and we are almost never asked to contribute money), and the personnel of the tour close at hand.

No school environment is perfect.  I sorely miss some things about larger schools - extracurricular activities and peer groups, mainly.   But Totem has done a great job building its school program, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky.


  1. That sounds like an awesome school to have your kids in!

  2. One year later, is the school still exceeding in standards? I read on a chat board that Cirque is reducing family programs. My friend who toured with Totem was praising how performers travel with family at no extra expense. I was wondering if that is changing? Thank you