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Susan MacKay
Director of Education and the Center for Children's Learning at the Portland Children's Museum
Recent Activity
My heart is heavy looking back on a violent year. In the past year, we’ve watched so many individuals gunned down, white supremacy viscerally stamped on their crumbling bodies; the revolving door of mass shootings, reminding us on an almost daily basis of our feeble inability to enact arms restrictions;... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2015 at Opal School Blog
When the organizers of the TEDx West Vancouver conference called to ask if someone from Opal School would like to share at their event, I shot up my hand. I knew it would be a powerful exercise in synthesis – forcing me to develop clarity around what I care most... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2015 at Opal School Blog
At the end of September, Matt Karlsen and I spoke to several groups in the Vancouver area about conditions that support playful inquiry. Over the last few years, educators in British Columbia and Alberta have shown a great deal of interest in Opal School’s work: it responds to their curiosity... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2015 at Opal School Blog
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Martin Luther King, Jr. In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, we've had a long weekend. Much of Dr. King's encouragement and inspiration ultimately challenges us all to speak up with, as our friend... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Opal School Blog
Each September I find myself wanting to pick right up where we left off in June. The end of the school year is one of my favorite times. It is a time of synthesis and reflection. It's a time of celebration of growth and learning. It's a time where all... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Opal School Blog
I don't think I've been so excited to begin a school year in a long time. Opal School's continuous journey to develop an understanding of and approach to a pedagogy of listening and relationships has taken a significant step forward. Tomorrow, when we open our doors on the 2014 -... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2014 at Opal School Blog
Dear Person Who is Looking at the Mural: The following letter was written collaboratively by the 8 and 9 year old children who attend Opal School. They have designed and painted a mural as a gift to those who will play on the school playground for years to come. This... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Opal School Blog
Working with a partner is sometimes easier because you have lots of ideas, but it’s sometimes harder because you have to agree. Angelina, age 8 Angelina spoke these words recently as she and her classmates at Opal School were getting ready to launch their final writing project of the school... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2014 at Opal School Blog
This post comes from Opal School Teacher-Researcher Kerry Salazar. It discusses the work of Opal 2 (grades 1-2.) Learn more about this project - and see the panels themselves - at the Opal School Summer Symposium. Children in Opal 2 spend a year immersed in a study of "The We... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2014 at Opal School Blog
Opal School teachers and children share their work with the world through professional development workshops. The effort involved in this is significant - but it's our way of fulfilling our mission of strengthening public education well beyond the walls of Portland Children's Museum. Last week, we held a program called... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2014 at Opal School Blog
We are so pleased to present our very first ebook! The first to come in our Symposium Series, this ebook documents a project facilitated by Opal Beginning School teachers Lauren Adams and Caroline Wolfe with children ages 3 - 5 years, which they presented at the Opal School Symposium in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at Opal School Blog
The Magical Tree of Birdland At this morning's whole school gathering, Opal 1 told us about what they've been studying. Taylor explained that they were studying birds and then they saw a giant nest in the woods and they wanted to figure out how big it was and then they... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2014 at Opal School Blog
Last month, a group of teachers and administrators from the Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education at South Dakota State University spent two days engaged in observation, investigation, and conversation at Opal School. In this post, Dr. Kay Cutler, Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of the Center, discusses... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2014 at Opal School Blog
When the rains come to the Northwest, I love to spend weekends searching for chanterelles. During all season, I find transcendent pleasure in wandering through an old growth forest - but in the fall, when it's covered with leafy debris, that joy is enhanced by the delight of stumbling over... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2014 at Opal School Blog
We know that children are full of capabilities and ideas the world needs. They are today's citizens - not tomorrow's. How can children's museums be a place where this is highlighted and discussed? How can we make children's thinking visible in a way that strengthens our environments? The Portland Children's... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2013 at Opal School Blog
In recent years, much has been said about creative thinking, teamwork and research as positive resources that will support the advancement of human culture. I believe that it is important for those of us who work with the children and youth of today to constantly rethink these concepts, and make... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2013 at Opal School Blog
This Friday, a group of four of us head to Italy for a study group with colleagues from other children's museums. We're anticipating a provocative, inspiring, delicious week - I'm feeling super lucky. I'm reposting this week’s Opal 4 post here in the spirit of the long reach that inspiration... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2013 at Opal School Blog