Been A While

So, a lot has happened since my last post. I am on a leave of absence from my job as I take care of my family and work on curriculum for Da Vincineers, among other things. We’re currently remodeling the garage for Da Vincineers, but are unsure whether we will be “allowed” to use the space for our intended use. There have been some concerns raised by a few neighbors after a recent article on our plans in the newspaper. Many others have come out in support. We’re moving slowly and cautiously, but still finishing the space according to the original plan. It may not be that we’re able to use it the way we envisioned, but we’re faithful that it will work out, somehow.

In addition, we are pursuing some other potential options, including working in the schools. The transportation piece may be a complication, but I am going to do my best to still keep that as part of the program. I truly believe that there are kids that need to be served that won’t if they don’t have a ride. But, legalities are an issue. We shall see on that too. I may have to start without transportation for kids and then see about adding that in later. Again, faithful that it will work out, somehow. I’ll just keep moving toward the goal.


Summer of 2012

After MUCH soul searching, I am super excited that the summer of 2012 is when Da Vincineers will launch. That way I can be a kindergarten teacher and a mom, working on curriculum, supplies and the space over this year. So excited!

Finding Balance

It has been a while since I’ve done an update. Da Vincineers is moving along- we’ve got our state stuff done and I’ve begun working on the bylaws and curriculum, but I am pondering how in the world I am going to manage all of this, honestly. Being a full-time teacher that wants to give my all to my students and being a mom to 5 (and of course, wanting to do that well!) means that I am already stretched for time. Doing those 2 things justice is tricky and now I am going to add on an after-school program too? What gives in all this? I suspect it will be my sanity! 😉

Really, my idea for this was originally to do a SUMMER program, but because Macy’s was hoping to feature it as a project we could immediately put in place, it became an after school program. I have always been a BIG idea person and, truthfully, I get myself in over my head from time to time and I think doing this during the school year is an example of that. But I typically push through and accomplish because it is important to me to be true to my word and meet expectations.

So, I am going to launch this during the school year, but Chester and I are going to take it slow and steady. Our first classes will be at the start of October (hopefully) and I will run one one week, him the next. We’ll reflect and refine and then we’ll run it again and reflect and refine. Then we will launch our next 2 programs. Our goal this year is to have 4 programs up and running (possible up to 5-6 from other contributors, if that works out) during the school year. We will focus just on one school at first and see how it goes to expand.

We WILL include all of the schools in the district for nominations for summer scholarships. Frankly, doing the program in the summer sounds fun and exciting to me, rather than daunting and “too much” like doing it within the school year feels. But we’ll see. I am planning to be flexible, reflective and honest. I WANT to do this so much, but I don’t want to be a subpar mom or Kindergarten teacher. I also would like to keep somewhat sane. Lofty goal, I know!

First Steps for Curriculum!

I am excited! I decided to take my first step for teaching and wrote Day 1 for the Invention program for Da Vincineers. I had planned to wait until I finished reading Fritjof Capra’s “The Science of Leonardo: Inside the Mind of the Great Genius of the Renaissance” first, but I know I can edit later and I have no doubt I will. Chester and I are reading it aloud, together, so it is slower going. Oh, it is inspiring though! After reading together tonight I felt the desire to dive into the real side of this program… planning to work with the kids.

Yes, I need to continue the work on the non-profit status… must dive deeper into those by-laws (pardon me while I barf a little- ICK I hate that stuff!), but for tonight, I accomplished something that makes it feel more real to me. I pictured myself with the kids, sharing about the curiosity, excitement and passion for learning that da Vinci lived every day. I pictured us selecting notebooks and sketching, looking at models to see how they worked, making predictions and testing them out, wondering what in nature might have inspired these idea for da Vinci? Or was there another inspiration?

THIS is the stuff! I can’t wait for the day when it finally, truly, begins.

Online Auction for Mary and Joseph starts Friday!



All of the funds raised by this auction will be donated to Adoption Advocates International and Project Global Hope to help bring Mary an Joseph, 2 older orphans that have been waiting for over 3 years for a family, home to the family that now waits for them. I met them when I adopted my own kids from Ghana nearly 3 years ago and we’ve prayed for them daily since. I never forgot the sweet girl that was so happy for everyone else getting their families that would then go off to the corner and cry because nobody ever came for her. Someone is coming for you now Mary! And we’re going to make it happen as soon as possible!

Our minimum goal for this auction is to cover the cost of the FBI fingerprinting and adoption agency fees, which totals nearly $5000. But since we’re willing to pony up 10K, lets make the REAL goal 20K so we can fund as much of this as possible right out of the gate.

If we exceed our minimum goal, we will continue to work to fund Mary and Joseph’s adoption until it is fully funded (should be around 25K- 30K). If we are so blessed that we raise more than what their adoption costs AAI will contribute to the Grace Fund for other older orphans and Project Global Hope will use the funds to do humanitarian work in Ghana benefiting woman and children.

Please help! Even if you can only donate $5, it will turn into $10 through our matching donation!

First Board Meeting- Mission Statement and Fundraiser

I am truly so happy with the members of our Board of Directors for Da Vincineers. Smart, dedicated, caring people making decisions for what’s best for the direction of this dream. A dream that is becoming a reality!

We crafted our mission statement, which began from the guidance of our vision statement. Each of us wrote one, sent it to each other and then, during the meeting we combined 2 of them to create the statement that will represent our public mission:

Da Vincineers believes in enlivening students’ passion for learning through hands on, self-directed educational experiences inspired by the natural curiosity modeled by Leonardo Da Vinci, enhancing their ability to become critical thinkers.

I believe, as does the board, that it perfectly encompasses our hopes for what we plan to do.

We also made some decisions, important ones, that will guide the direction we plan to take. Once of the biggest was deciding on the curriculum we plan to develop first. Our model for development is a 4 day, 2 hour per day program that includes the following (roughly):
1. Da Vinci background knowledge (general)
2. Da Vinci specific work in the area of focus
3. Marinating in and exploring the focus concept, including Da Vinci’s work and related
4. Taking that knowledge/experience and going where the kids lead (creating something of their own)

I am developing an invention program, Chester an oil painting including linear perspective and Candida is working on 2- myths/writing plus a nature/food curriculum. We plan to be able to present a rough draft to the board by our next formal meeting. This is the STUFF! We also plan to tackle many more areas like cartography, Vitruvian Proportions/Human Anatomy, dramatic production, sculpture, architecture, the eye (don’t underestimate the coolness of this one!), flight, water, astronomy, musical instruments and practical jokes down the road. SOOOOOOOO exciting!

Another thing that our family is focusing on is the Mary and Joseph auction (the online portion runs from July 8th- July 15th) and if you want to learn more about helping these 2 sweet orphans that have waited for over 3 years for a forever family, please visit the auction (with nearly 50 GREAT items) at

Brain Drain

So, I am very thankful to have help and support from my Score counselor, but his last email was jammed packed with everything I need to do to get non-profit status for Da Vincineers. Multiple attachments with a huge lot of pages per attachment. I *know* it will be one foot in front of the other, just keeping ticking things off the list, BUT UGGH. I’m tired and I don’t WANNA! I want a magical fairy to fly in and clearly understand the vision I have while making it all flow into a workable business plan. Yes, that would be nice.

Maybe if I was done with my masters I would feel ready to take this on. Maybe if I wasn’t starting to pack, I’d be ready. Maybe if the auction for Mary and Joseph were done I’d be feeling the energy for it. Maybe. Probably not though.

I’m an idea and action girl and I HATE hoop jumping! I know it is necessary and part of the world we live in, but it feels oppressive right now. Sigh. I need to get over that and get ready to get to business. I think I need to work out my plan for accomplishing my plan tomorrow. After all, anything worthwhile takes more than a little effort. I just need to break it down into steps and start walking. This needs to be done and operational as soon as possible. The kids are ready! Time to dig in and get ‘er done people. Any of you magical business plan fairies?

Vision Statement and Board of Directors

We have our Board of Directors and our vision statement for the formation of the Da Vincineers! Our Board members are: Amy Ferrell, Heather Amsbury, Chester Ferrell, Jenny Goos, Candida Alvis and Lisa Martinez. We are SO blessed to have them join us!

Here is our vision statement:

Da Vincineers believes that learning through hands on, active involvement inspires deeper understanding and ignites passion in students. We provide opportunities to accomplish this by exploring the studies of Leonardo Da Vinci- uniting art, science, math and literacy with a curriculum that, after providing a solid knowledge base, allows students to construct and direct their own learning.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci

Non-profit Status- Score! A Home!

I am constantly in amazement at this adventure I am living, currently called my life! Today I was blessed to meet with a Score mentor to help me on the first steps to get my non-profit status going. A Da Vincineer Page Facebook fan ( please go here and press “like” at the top if you haven’t already!) suggested to me, which is a mentorship service for those wanting to start or grow a business. My experience was great and I hope you’ll check them out if you are wanting to start your own business or need some advice. It is FREE! As soon as I completed my online forms, a mentor contacted me ready to help within 12 hours. I met with him today and so I begin the process of forming Da Vincineers, a non-profit organization!

My first step will be to create my vision statement and then I need to get my Board of Directors together. Once those steps are complete I can begin the official application process. After I apply, I should be able to be ready to go in 6 weeks. Perfect! This non-profit status will allow for anyone that wants to support our scholarship programs to donate to Da Vincineers and get a tax deduction for it. I will still be able to pay my teachers for their work and donate my own funds in a specified way so that my money will go to where I want it to go, while the foundation we’ll be forming will direct and make decisions about the other donated funds and the programs itself.

We also have an agreement to purchase a home, contingent on the Macy’s funds coming through, which will be perfect for the Da Vincineers. It has a great triple garage and RV parking for a van (though right now it looks like we might be able to partner with local churches to use their vehicles for the program- this is a maybe, but wouldn’t that be great!?).

I’m off to work on our vision statement and I have a pretty good idea about who I want to approach for my Board of Directors, so we’re moving forward! Also Sweet Treats for Sweet Mary and Joseph fundraiser is moving along (go here to read more about Mary ) ! What a wonderful season of life. I am going to enjoy every minute and treasure the fact that I am truly a blessed woman to have this opportunity!

Moving forward

What an amazing adventure to be on! We’re moving forward, but were going to be wise and cautious in our decisions. Tomorrow we are looking at 4 homes that have what we need as a family and adequate space for the Da Vincineers! We’ve got our name trademark submitted. We have a lawyer willing to help us figure out transportation and the legal aspects with our home pro bono (God bless her!). We’ve had several wonderful offers for help with website design and marketing. I am looking into vans and short buses for the program as well. I also have been talking with the financial planner and am looking forward to learning from her! I have ZERO experience in doing anything other than paying bills! 🙂

Also, we’re excited to be working on the silent auction for Mary! Mary doesn’t have anything to do with the Da Vincineers, but she has everything to do with my passion for children. I met this sweet, older orphan when I brought my kids home from Ghana nearly 3 years ago. It was so hard to see her heart break as family and family came for everyone BUT her. I never forgot her and our family has prayed for her daily. She has a family that met her the same way we did and wants to adopt her but are seriously limited by funds. They want to adopt her brother too! My first order of business when I get my Macy’s million is to get the homestudy paid for so they can move forward and I’m currently organizing a silent auction called “Sweet Treats for Sweet Mary” in our town, but with donations coming from our area and across the nation. If you’re interested in helping in any way (time, money or donations), please email us at Also, you can make a direct donation to Mary and Joseph’s adoption at Then select “other” and in the designation type “Grace Fund for Mary.” Let’s get this amazing girl home to her family as soon as possible!

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