In praise of Pine Mountain Settlement School

Judith Victoria Hensley - Plain Thoughts

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I have loved Pine Mountain Settlement School since the first moment I saw it. As a classroom teacher, I took advantage of the wonderful community-based, hands-on educational programs they offer. I am amazed at how many teachers in the region have not taken students to share in the vast wealth of experiences, nature, and learning opportunities that are available, and all correlated with core content that is mandated by the state.

I am also surprised by the number of people I run into from other places that have been there and sing the praises of Pine Mountain Settlement School from their childhood memories or good reports from their children and grandchildren. Sometimes what we have closest to hand doesn’t seem to stand out to local people as much as to people who have to travel a good distance to visit.

I recently had a speaking engagement and the people present began to speak of Pine Mountain Settlement School. I kept my mouth shut and just listened. I wanted to hear what they had to say without realizing that I was already in love with the place. I felt like I was listening to someone “brag” about my child or someone close to my heart. Everyone had only high praises to offer.

One of the ladies had recently been on a field trip with her grandchild and was amazed at the good learning experience they had. She had another grandchild who had been there in the past and was surprised to hear the older child telling the younger one all about the lessons the younger child could expect to experience. The hands-on learning had made an impact.

Another person talked about how engaged the new director and his family are with the community after begin there such a short time. She said she had seen them present and supporting each event and truly being part of the community, even dressing up and handing out candy for “Trunk-or-Treat.”

Yet another comment was made about how good is to see a young family with children back in the Director’s position at Pine Mountain Settlement School. They counted the years and said they thought it had probably been 30 to 40 years since a director had children living on campus.

Geoff Marrietta and his wife Sky Brosi-Marietta, along with sons Harlan and Perry, moved to Pine Mountain Settlement School in their new leadership roles right after Geoff finished his doctoral degree at Harvard University. Sky also completed her Doctorate in Education a couple of years ago at Harvard. With a world of opportunities at their feet, high paying positions actively recruiting them, and being accustomed to city life in Boston, I was surprised they were so excited about coming to Pine Mountain Settlement School.

They have a history with the school firmly in place. Sky’s mother, Connie Farrington, taught at Pine Mountain Settlement School many years ago before Sky’s parents met. She passed on her love for the school, the people, and the region to her children.

Notably, Sky and Geoff were married in the Pine Mountain Settlement School Chapel several years ago. They met during their teaching placement on a Navajo Indian reservation in New Mexico, but came all the way back to Kentucky and the chapel for their ceremony before going off to Harvard. Sky’s brother, Eagle, has also worked for Pine Mountain Settlement School in the past.

It is almost as if the school was calling to them long before the position came open and the circumstances of their lives would allow them to return. I consider the school very blessed to have a family that is so well qualified to lead with educational degrees, life experiences, financial expertise, and a love for the mountains and people that brought them to us. With over a one hundred year successful history of Pine Mountain Settlement School accomplished, it is with great optimism that I envision the Marietta family with a long full life at Pine Mountain Settlement School.

Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.

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Judith Victoria Hensley

Plain Thoughts

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