Morganites empower young minds, community with ‘dream school’
Inside of an old, Victorian-style home in the Gwynn Oak neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland exists Nsoroma Academy for Holistic Thought.
The golden, autumn leaves that carpeted the ground illuminated the home with a heartwarming glow.
The scenery complemented the peaceful atmosphere of the school.
The Montessori-style private school for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade incorporates an advanced academic curriculum into a culture of complete nourishment for children.
Nsoroma (in-so-RO-mah) is a Twi word–of the Akan people, most of whom live in Ghana)–which means "children of the heavens."
Children are treasured as such at Nsoroma.
“When they come here it’s really our goal to make sure that they have a real, complete existence so that’s why we say holistic existence,” said the founder and director Kenyatta Macon-Moon. “They should understand the interdependence between themselves and every living and non-living thing around them.”
Macon-Moon founded the school four years ago and teaches all subjects for grades second through fifth grades and serves as the administrative lead.
Macon-Moon also founded and directs Nsoroma Holistic Daycare, which is in its eighth year.
She and her husband, Olubusola Moon, have two children: Dayo, 8, and Sela, 6.
Macon-Moon’s “other life partner,” she said, is Lashone Croom, known as Mama Ngina.
Macon-Moon said that Croom matches her passion for children.
Croom is the co-founder of Nsoroma Academy and serves as the program director liaison between the early learning program at the daycare and the academy program.
She also teaches pre-k through1st grade.
Croom and her husband, Hamid Sio, have one child, Aleem Sio, who turns two next month.
Both women have a connection to Morgan State University: Macon-Moon started college at Morgan and graduated from Sojourner-Douglass.
Croom began her college career at Tuskegee University but received her bachelor’s from at Morgan.
Croom worked at the daycare to learn as much as she could about the philosophy of Nsoroma in practice.
The pair desired to expand.
Macon-Moon said to Croom, “Let's make the school of our dreams.”
And so they did.
“Even though she wasn't there at very, very beginning,” said Macon-Moon. “This is as much her baby because it's her passion, too, and we all want the same exact same thing.”
In addition to the core curriculum, courses include exercises, like yoga, dance and martial arts, and visual arts and music, including African drumming.
Children have the opportunity to meet others outside of the school through outreach program. This might entail a sporting match.
Macon-Moon said, “We want to help raise these healthy human beings. These really well-rounded, well-educated, happy, whole human beings. And if we do that– I know we're doing that–but just like I want to know that we can continue however we need to continue up to whatever rate it needs to be because I think I will die happily knowing we accomplished that.”
Sharifah Gavins met Macon-Moon 13 years ago when her one of her sons had her as a teacher at another school.
“She was like a breath of fresh air,” Gavins said.
Gavins said that Macon-Moon is “one of those gems” whose passion inspires students, which in turn, inspires parents.
“It’s all about the teachers,” she said.
Without passionate teachers, nothing else matters, Gavin said. “They have to want to be there.”
Their parent-teacher relationship grew into a friendship and then into a business relationship.
Gavins, mother of four, is a personal development consultant with the intention “to inspire people to create whatever inspires them.”
She consulted Macon-Moon on the creation the structure of Nsoroma Academy.
Gavins met Croom soon after the school opened. Gavins said Croom has “a good tenderness with the children.”
Gavins believed in the philosophy of the school and sent her youngest son to Nsoroma.
“They speak to the child’s heart nonverbally,” she said. “They managed to inspire that peace in to keep them flourishing and it stays there and they can pull from it whenever they need to.
“I see my children doing it.”
She said that while he has not attended the school in three years, her youngest does something representative of the school every day. The nutritional education inspired the 10-year-old to become a chef.
Macon-Moon said, “I think bridging on top of that the awareness we gained as adults in terms of how food affects your learning. How exercise, proper sleep, hygiene, all those things that we learn through our studies, but how do we give it to children that they really want to learn it? They really want to learn it.
“That's been our goal. That's been our overriding theme. “
Gavins said, “Nsoroma helps them to have a free-thinking mind.”
This allows for creative energy, she said, and it eliminates fears of venturing to new places or asking questions, unlike adults who put a limit on children because of personal fears.
“It is the human experience and how it connects with the universe” and children can grasp it easily at school, Gavin said. “[Macon-Moon] translates that into this environment for the children and the parents who buy into it can extend it into the community. That’s a wonderful thing.”
Visitors to the school remark how happy the Nsoroma students are, said Macon-Moon.
Croom said that Nsoroma students look adults in the eye and listen and respond politely, oftentimes surprising adult visitors.
There is something different about this place– a wholeness, they say.
“It's not a measure of good or bad it's just I think part of it is the energy of everybody in this space,” said Macon-Moon. “Every teacher wants to be here. Every student wants to be here. Every parent who has their student here, whether they knew what they were getting into or not.”
Croom laughed in agreement.
Macon-Moon said: “They we have a voluntary program that is mandatory participation and it is decidedly so because we know that to be successful that's when our parents have to be on board.
“And so one of the one of the initiatives is they have to come one day per year. Every parent. So if it's a 2-parent home both have to do a separate day where they to be here. They can't offset it with any money. They have to come here at the start of the day to the end of the day. You see the power in that? “
Olubusola Moon contributes to Nsoroma as the husband of the founder and as a parent. He provides non-contracting work on the schoolhouse and lawn.
He said, it allows him to give and feel inspired.
Moon said the “nurturing” community provides parental involvement and supervision that many other children do not have.
This holds parents accountable for understanding the curriculum and how it is reinforced at home, he said.
Moon said, “It bridges the gap between the institution and family life.”
“The focus is to make sure that they children [who] attend our institution have the tools necessary to be in incredible citizens of our society,” he said.
“When they leave our school and go somewhere else,” he said, “they are fully engaged with [whom] they are so that they can contribute the best of themselves to our society.”
At Nsoroma, children are heard.
At Nsoroma, the children discover themselves, their voice, and their power.
This requires a great deal of attentiveness and flexibility; the instructors will adjust schedule based on the needs of the children.
Croom said: “We are very aware of energy and we teach the children what energy is and they understand the energy that they bring into the space can be transferred around the space. So you bring an energy of anxiety or high energy or peace or calmness is going to transform the space. We created energy shifts in the day. So if we see that the children need a little more time to focus then we may stop and say All right everybody, um let's step away from the desks, let's step away from the table floor activities. Let's come together all do jumping jacks. Or we maybe say, ‘It's yoga time and let's sit and meditate.’ We really understand the awareness of energy.”
“Everyday,” said Croom, “we end with a gratitude circle, which brings it all together.
“Children are able to say, ‘I am thankful for this today’ or ‘my intention was to finish all my work,’ and you know someone may ask, ‘Did you reach your intention?’ Sometimes it's ‘yes,’ sometimes it's ‘no.’ Okay well what are you going to do about it? Children becoming aware of their own actions, aware of their own day everything around them and being mindful of all those things.”
Macon-Moon: “They don't know that that could be for any reason gender, ethnic background, socio-economic status, they don't they can't fathom that there is anything pre-determined by anyone or any situation that could not allow them to be what their potential would allow them to be. And I think that's so important. Cause they won't allow that to stand in the way. They won't they don't believe in it. It doesn't exist for them so they're not going to let that stand in their way.”
Macon-Moon said, “She and I say this to each other over time and look at each other and say, ‘School of our dreams!’ And we'll high-five each other.”