Crystal Bacon, left, and Tara Cancio-Bello, spiffed up the new Community School classrooms in the basement at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. Photo by Marcy Stamper

Crystal Bacon, left, and Tara Cancio-Bello, spiffed up the new Community School classrooms in the basement at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. Photo by Marcy Stamper

By Marcy Stamper 

The Methow Valley Community School is launching its new school year in a new (and once and former) location, in the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp, and is welcoming an entirely new staff. School starts Sept. 9.

Executive Director Crystal Bacon, who took the helm this summer, is joined by two new teachers—Tara Cancio-Bello and Kari Bown. Cancio-Bello is the school’s full-time teacher. Bown will be the school’s math specialist. The two will also co-teach.

Cancio-Bello recently relocated from Vermont with her family, where she taught both single-grade and multi-age classes. She has also taught elementary school in Alaska and has a background in horticulture.

A 20-year resident of the valley, Bown brings experience as a Waldorf assistant teacher and tutor, a homeschooler, an artist and a forest ranger. She has been a guest teacher at the Community School, working on geometry, movement and drawing. 

Bacon, who has taught writing at the college level and worked as an academic dean, said she is excited to be heading up the Community School in a role that combines “vision with nuts-and-bolts educational leadership and change.”

Each year, the school focuses on a learning theme, or expedition. This year students will investigate local economic sustainability using the Made in the Methow campaign, which highlights locally grown and produced foods and crafts.

Students will also focus on the recent wildfires in a program designed to address feelings of fear and uncertainty. The curriculum will integrate learning about fire as a natural part of human life and the Methow ecosystem.

Students will make field trips to fire-affected areas, and will use drawing and writing to “help students heal their own fears and losses due to the fires,” said Bacon. “For example, trips to local burn areas to create photo points that we revisit once a month will help the children to see the natural progression of the land’s healing.”

With many of the older students transferring to the public school, the Community School will have classes for first through fourth grades this year. There are currently 13 students enrolled.

The school is still accepting applications and scholarships are available. For more information, call 997-4447, or visit www.mvcommunityschool.org.