Photo: Interim Director of School Dave Steckler shows some of his maple-man and fairyhouse woodcarvings that were displayed during this week’s Saturday Night Activity. 

At North Country School, we believe in finding one’s passions through an exploration of the world around us and connecting to others, and this holds true not only for our students but for the many adults that make up the NCS community. Our teachers, administrators, and staff are a creative and talented group of individuals who have chosen to be a part of North Country School because of their desire to share their interests and knowledge with others, and for the unique opportunities provided to them to do so on our remarkable campus.
This week, for Teacher Appreciation Week, we thank the adults in the NCS community for their resilience and adaptability during this unexpectedly difficult time. Using their passion and creativity, they have taken our hands-on, place-based education model online and brought it into the homes of our students and their families. Their efforts have gone above and beyond the normal, day-to-day life of our school, and their skills and passions have persevered. We are all fortunate to have them. Our greater community’s passion, creativity, and ingenuity was on display during this week’s Saturday Night Activity talent show, where our students, alumni, and faculty showed off their skills and talents. We were thrilled to share all of the thoughtful, adventurous, delicious, and beautiful work that has been happening on our campus as well as in your own homes.

Please keep sending us your photos, and we will add them to our NCS at Home: Spring 2020 photo library. Email photos to Becca Miller at .

Note: Our campus is closed to all students for the remainder of the school year, with the exception of the international students who remained here during spring break, rather than returning to their home countries during the early stages of the outbreak. These 18 students, along with our houseparents and faculty, are staying on campus and enjoying outdoor adventures in the contiguous wilderness during this time. They have been and will continue to take appropriate safety and prevention measures.


Top: Gavi paints the Community Lounge. Middle: Sally helps paint trees in the Community Lounge. Bottom: Jack goes birding.

This week NCS teachers found new and different ways to use their talents and interests to connect to our community, both on- and off-campus. Math teacher Gavi—a professional artist who does much of the original artwork in our Organic Roots magazine—spent some time painting with our on-campus students in the Community Lounge treehouse space. The lounge’s climbing structure was built earlier in the year by NCS students and teacher Larry. Gavi, along with the students living in Cascade House, have been adorning the walls of the space with paintings of native trees including spruce, birch, maple, and beech.

6th-grade teacher Jack has been lending his birding knowledge to the extended NCS community each week through our Connecting With Our Community series, and got out early in the morning this week to search the campus for returning migratory birds. This week Jack, and other interested campus adults were able to see several species including red-winged blackbirds, warblers, robins, starlings, and a menagerie of sparrows. As the warmer weather slowly arrives, there are more and more signs of migrating birds. Learn more about Jack’s bird sightings each Thursday on the NCS Facebook page.

Top: Meredith teaches Japanese class. Middle 1: Japanese class welcomes a visitor over Zoom. Middle 2: 5th-grader Wyatt works on a cookie-baking math lesson. Bottom: 5th-grader Kalina completes a cookie-baking math lesson with her sister.

International Student Program Coordinator and teacher Meredith has dedicated many years to instilling a passion for world languages and cultures in others, from her time teaching in Japan, France, and Hawaii, to working at Concordia Language Villages each summer, to providing our own community with poignant weekly Japanese videos on social media. This week Meredith continued her creative work with NCS’s Japanese students by welcoming a guest expert into her Zoom lesson. Hikaru-sensei, a colleague of Meredith’s from Japanese camp, visited the class to field questions from the students who were able to practice their vocabulary and sentence structure with a new member of the extended NCS community.

When math teacher Gavi wasn’t painting nature scenes on campus this past week, she was leading a fractions-based cookie lesson with her 4th- and 5th-grade class. By manipulating the fractions provided, students were able to figure out the quantities of ingredients needed to bake up a batch of delicious treats.


Top: Campus family Nate and Wyatt camp at the Crag Cabin with Nurse Jess. Middle 1: Jack paddles on Round Lake. Middle 2: Mountain House boys on Balanced Rocks. Bottom: Kentaro at Balanced Rocks.

Those of us living at North Country School spent some time exploring our space this week, venturing out to beautiful spots on and near our 220-acre property. This past weekend, Nurse Jess’s family hiked up to the Crag Cabin where they enjoyed sunset views of Cascade Mountain before bundling up in sleeping bags for a night by the woodstove. With Saturday and Sunday giving us our warmest weekend to date, the students living in Clark House spent much of the day on the lakefront paddling peanut-shell boats on their own and working together to steer canoes. The students of Mountain House also took advantage of spectacular weather by hiking up to nearby Balanced Rocks, where they took in views of Cascade Mountain and our own campus, and played among the natural rock formations and cracks at the viewpoint’s open landing.


Top: 7th-grader Colton bikes. Middle1: 8th-grader Eden bakes sticky buns. Middle 2: Finished sticky buns. Bottom: 8th-grader Cocona helps paint the Community Lounge. 

Our at-home students continued to send us updates of their pursuits and accomplishments this past week, and we were excited to see 7th-grader Colton out on the trails with his mountain bike while 8th-grader Eden whipped up a batch of sticky buns using the What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops? recipe submitted by Head of Kitchen Paulette. Back on campus, 8th-grader Cocona—a talented artist whose lion painting was recently featured on the cover of Lake Champlain Weekly—joined teacher Gavi and the other residents of Cascade House in painting the giant spruce tree that makes up the primary climbing structure in our Community Lounge.

Top: 7th-grader Olivia receives a handmade birthday present from School Counselor Lauren. Bottom: 7th-grader JT holds up an appreciation sign for NCS teachers. 

Though we may be scattered across distances great and small at the moment, members of the NCS community have made sure to continue the culture of care and appreciation that makes our institution so special. This week School Counselor Lauren participated in her advisee Olivia’s birthday from afar by mailing her a beautiful handmade necklace, while Olivia’s family connected back with photos that allowed us to join in on her celebration. 7th-grader JT and his family made sure to acknowledge the NCS faculty during Teacher Appreciation Week by sending a photo of a colorful homemade “Thank You” sign that brought a smile to all of our faces.


Top: Horses eating hay in the pasture. Middle 1: Chickens in the sunshine. Middle 2: The new piglets get settled in at the barn. Bottom: Barn Manager Erica holds the newborn goat kids.

Our barnyard creatures enjoyed the warm weather this past weekend, with the horses and chickens spending plenty of time outdoors basking in the spring sunshine. Meanwhile, we welcomed even more new additions to our farm this week, both in the form of a litter of piglets and with two new baby goat kids! The adorable multicolored piglets, who were born on a nearby farm, settled into their new home in the barn together, while Barn Manager Erica, alongside Farm Interns Nick and Bri, helped deliver the two baby goats, named Watson and Holmes. Their mother, Bambi, delivered the cuddly two male kids earlier this week, and the kids have been busy hanging out and playing with the lambs over in the sheep barn.

Top: Silvia and Jenny help Garden Manager Tess in the Children’s Garden. Middle 1: Seedlings growing in the greenhouse. Middle 2: Sam helps in the Forest Garden. Bottom: Spring beauties blooming in the woods.

Spring has definitely sprung in our garden spaces this week, and our on-campus students and adults have been helping Garden Manager Tess make sure our growing spaces are in good shape for future planting and harvesting. The students of Cascade House and Clark House spent time in the Children’s Garden, Forest Garden, and greenhouses seeding, transplanting, and removing brush. We have already begun to harvest greens and herbs from those spaces, and in the upcoming months we will be able to pick fruit, vegetables, and edible flowers from our garden beds.

Warmer days have meant that the wild plants that grow in our surrounding woods have also begun to return in earnest, and this week we spied trout lilies, wild violets, and tiny pink spring beauty flowers dotting the ground along our trails and paths. Just as we have greatly appreciated spending more time outside this past week, we have been inspired by seeing these resilient wild plants returning after many months spent buried under feet of snow and ice. We look forward to the coming weeks of green leaves unfurling and fragrant blossoms opening on our apple trees as we celebrate beloved events in new and creative ways, like next week’s remote Pancake Breakfast and our upcoming online graduation event in late May.

We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and that your communities are caring for and supporting one another. We will continue to update you about our community throughout this time, and encourage you all to reach out to us as well.


Mondays: Check our Facebook page every Monday for a video from our School Counselor, Lauren, on tips for getting through this challenging time. Last week, she talked about how to stay calm and centered using the acronyms RAIN and APPLE.

Tuesdays: Creature Query Barn Manager Erica Burns will be answering questions about the animals on our farm using fun and educational videos. This past week’s Creature Query taught us about measuring horses. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Wednesdays: What’s Cooking at NCS and Camp Treetops?- Edible Schoolyard instructor Elie Rabinowitz, along with other community members, will provide simple recipes and cooking resources you can use to prepare delicious meals at home with your families. This week camp staff member Kim Narol showed us how to make kohlrabi and apple slaw. Check out all of the recipes on Facebook and on Tumblr.

Thursdays: Birding with Jack- 6th grade English teacher Jack Kiernan will offer the NCS community an opportunity to connect through the world of birds by providing the resources to become familiar with birds that our community is seeing around the globe. If you are out for a walk or sitting at home, looking out the window, take a moment to log the birds you see with the NCS eBird account. Last week Jack taught us about white-throated sparrows, a bird whose song is an iconic sign of spring in the Adirondacks. Check it out on our Facebook page.

Fridays: Check our Facebook page every Friday for a video featuring a Japanese mini-lesson by teacher Meredith Hanson. Last week Meredith talked about wood frogs and sang a Japanese song.

Saturdays:: The NCS Saturday Night Activity- Every Saturday at 8 p.m., NCS teacher Larry Robjent, along with other NCS faculty, will be hosting fun activities similar to those typically held on campus with students. Participate live from home with your own families. Last week featured a talent show; this week’s activity is Bingo.

For more information about the #ThisWeekAtNCS blog, contact Becca Miller at .