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re-imagining school

I’ve been writing a monthly column for Plain Values for more than a year now, and it’s been fun. Tough sometimes. Really tough, but enjoyable too.


I’ve been a writer of course for a long time… of songs, of blogs, of books, and even television and film, but this is the first time I’ve consented to write a monthly column for a magazine. I said yes because I love Marlin, the magazine’s founder, and the vision he has, but also because I thought it might be good for me to write against a deadline. Not just now and then, but every single month.


Now, I like to think of myself as fairly disciplined. That the eight years I spent in the Marine Corps helped create a powerful work ethic in me, but the truth is, each month when the article deadline is due, I find myself scrambling to finish the column, and more often than not, to even get it started.


All that to say, some of what I’ve written I really like. Some I maybe even love. But this month’s article I think I love most. Not necessarily because of the column I wrote (although I think the story of the schoolhouse is pretty special), but mostly for what this whole magazine issue is.



The February issue is all about education and my article is called "re-imagining the one-room schoolhouse." I share not only the story of why and how we created the school we have here at our farm, but also the many things that I believe we are doing differently than a lot of schools across America and the world. From keeping the class and school size to 12, with multi-age children of different learning abilities, and even how the world for us is the great classroom and how we are alleach one of usteachers, with something important to impart on the young people in our lives.


I also love this issue because the story following mine is one about Marlin’s wife Lisa who shares how our schoolhouse has encouraged them to build their own school in Ohio. They adopted three little ones with Down Syndrome and so want, and need, to re-imagine the educational opportunities for their kiddos and their community in general. And I love that our story has impacted their story.


On that note, this summer-in mid-June, I’ll be making the trek to the ‘Plain Values’ area in Ohio to share some songs and stories and speak at a couple of events during the annual Food Independence Summit, an event that benefits Marlin and Lisa Miller’s dream of opening their ‘Juneberry Schoolhouse.’



I also love the Amish Roundtable’ discussion in this month’s issue about how the plain people of Holmes County look at education. And then there is Joel Salatin’s article about learning through experience, Melissa K Norris’ story of becoming a writer, and Shawn and Beth Daugherty’s tale of their yearly community pig harvest. And so much more.


By the time you’ll read this blog, they’ll be hard at work on getting the March issue out, I’m not even sure if you can order this month’s “education’ issue of Plain Values. But I think it’s worth trying. Maybe give Jan at their office a call and see if she can make it happen. If not, you can subscribe here to get future issues.


In March, I share the story of our family cafe Marcy Jo’s, and how after fifteen-plus years of being in business, they’re still 'changing lives one bite at a time!’ And in April… well, now that I think about it, I better get to work on that one. The deadline’s coming fast…


Plain Values

Wines(330) 601-6106… ask for Jan Schlaback (she’s the office manager and handles customer service).




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