If realized, the Rochester River School would use the Genesee River as its classroom and curriculum. The school would offer “humane education” – teaching students compassion and respect for all living things and “to live ethically, sustainably, justly, and peacefully.” Recently, an online fundraising campaign was launched to help the school get off the ground. The following message was submitted by the school’s cofounder, Joel Helfrich…
Our sustainable future needs generations of Solutionaries—young people who have been taught to solve problems in strategic, comprehensive ways that do the most good and least harm to people, non-human animals, and the environment. The Rochester River School, a proposed K-12 urban school, aims to create Solutionaries through a Humane Education curriculum (human rights, environmental stewardship, animal ethics, and cultural concerns). Our students will learn knowledge, skills, understandings, and dispositions to create changes, both large and small, and to replace injustice throughout the world with far-reaching justice.
Imagine a future in which Rochester’s young citizens support the waterways of Western New York. The Genesee River, Lake Ontario, Erie Canal, and the Finger Lakes, and the thousands of species that make these waterways their homes, are invaluable natural resources. Even young children can understand the injustice of possible extinction and the importance of conservation. Teaching students through relevant, real-world projects based on the intersection of science, mathematics, early literacy, art, and social sciences ensures joyous yet rigorous learning.
Another unique way the Rochester River School will develop Solutionaries is through a vegan school nutrition program. We believe access to a plant-based diet, even just during school hours, will help children develop healthier bodies, stronger minds, and may even help them overcome the allergies and attentional issues that plague so many students. In addition, introducing children and their families to new foods early on may impact their food choices, and therefore their reliance on animals as food, for their lifetimes. The Rochester River School will be the first public school in the United States to provide completely vegan snacks and lunches. We plan to establish a working urban farm, kitchen, and CSA.
The Rochester River School and the children it will one day serve need your help to build its foundation. Obtaining a charter, creating curriculum, and hiring and training great teachers are all things a start-up school must do before children can actually attend. Unfortunately, until the children start to attend, there is no funding stream for school development.
Why we need funding
Imagine starting a school from scratch! Everything that lies ahead of us—including the lengthy and complex charter application—requires us to consult costly experts like lawyers, human resources professionals, and accountants. The school application process itself is 500+ pages! Curriculum development, attracting quality teachers, sharing the news of our school with parents who might be interested are all also challenges that lie ahead. The Rochester River Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.
About Joel Helfrich:
Tags: charter school, Genesee River, Joel Helfrich, Rochester, Rochester NY, Rochester River School
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