Hip hip, hippie-hoo-ray!

By Mir
August 7, 2011

“I want to study chemistry,” he said. “Do you do that here?”

“Sure,” she said. “If you come here, you get to choose a lot of what you do. What do you like about chemistry?”

“I don’t really know, yet, I just think it would be neat.” He was playing with Legos in the middle of the floor, happily chatting, a far cry from his refusal to look at the new parapro the day before.

“Well, you can maybe choose that for some independent study, or when it’s time to do a group project you can pitch that to the other students and see if other people want to do it, too.” For the past half hour she had gamely jumped from topic to topic along with him, unperturbed by his non-sequitors and occasional lack of manners.

“I want to learn how to blow things up!” he said, sweeping his arms wide. As I barked his name and dropped my face into my hands, he laughed. “Just kidding!” he added.

She was unfazed, and explained some of their past explorations, while he continued playing. He made no signs that he was paying attention, but every time I asked him if he’d heard what was just said, he’d parrot it back to me. He was listening.

“It was not my goal to be a special needs school,” she told us, a bit later. “It’s for everyone. But of course it’s the kids who are a little different who maybe have a harder time in the public schools. If Monkey comes… let’s see… that’ll make three boys with Asperger’s, at least. There’s another who… well, no formal diagnosis, but you know. He’ll be in good company, is my point.”

We were upstairs, then. The area was almost completely unfinished, but they have two weeks to get the new building ready before the term starts. “This will be the library, up here,” she said, gesturing to show us where the books will be, describing the planned furniture, and then she turned back to Monkey. “Do you ever like to be in a really small, dark space to chill out?” she asked.

He cocked his head. “I’m not sure,” he said.

Now it was my turn to laugh. “Dude, you’re in the cubby under your bed or in the closet ALL THE TIME. Really? You don’t know if you like small dark spaces?”

He laughed, too. “I guess I do!”

“We’re going to have human cubbies up here,” she told him, gesturing to the wall, painting the picture with her fingertips while she talked. “Remember the cubbies downstairs? We’ll have something like that up here, only we’ll put curtains across them, and pillows inside, and if you need some time to decompress, you’ll just be able to come up here and go into one and shut out everything.” Monkey had already spotted a few hula hoops leaning against the wall and moved on to those, but Otto and I exchanged a look. A “HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME” look.

[When Monkey was in second grade, his teacher had an antique bathtub in her classroom. It was filled with pillows, and I’m pretty sure Monkey spent the better part of the year in it, hiding and reading a book.]

“These hula hoops are cool,” he said, picking one up. “I am really good at hula hooping.”

“You are?” I said. “I didn’t know that.”

“Oh yeah,” he said, real dismissive-like, as he stepped into a hoop and started it going. “When we have free time in gym all we’re allowed to do is basketball or hula hoops. When I play basketball I always get hit in the head. I stick to the hoops.” The adults squelched giggles as he gyrated for a while, finally letting the hoop clatter to the floor.

“That’s one of our projects,” she said. “Everyone makes their own hula hoop, and then decorates it. So if you come here, you’ll get to make your very own.”

He carefully put the borrowed hoop back against the wall, where he’d found it. “I want to come to school here. Can I come to school here? Can I come back tomorrow?”

She smiled. “You can come to school here. But we don’t start for two weeks.”

“Awww, man!” His disappointment at having to wait melted away as he continued running around, touching everything, asking a million questions, and delighting in being allowed (nay, encouraged) to zoom around the main floor in a wheeled office chair to his heart’s content.

Oh, Hippie School*. We love you already.

*Hippie School is a homeschool collab, so technically we are homeschoolers. But this is a glorious compromise, where he gets a separate building, teachers, and classmates away from home (what he wants) along with a different learning philosophy and a very different environment than public school (what I wanted for him). Plus, you know, HULA HOOPS.


  1. Momsy

    How wonderful.

  2. AlisonC

    Hooray for Monkey!

  3. Another Dawn

    This post? Makes me want to cry with relief for you. I’m SO glad there is a Hippie School option for Monkey.

    Just the fact that they not only recognize that needing an occasional cubby escape is okay but are actually building cubbies is simply amazing.

  4. Anna Marie

    Mir! You very nearly made me cry. After all the upset and angst from the last few weeks, this is just the happy ending I was hoping to read. Yay for Monkey and the hippies! And seriously, cubbies for decompressing? That is almost miraculous.

  5. Nelson's Mama

    Can I go to hippie school? I have a lump in my throat for you…

  6. heather

    I want a human cubbie!! I spent a lot of time in my closet as a child.

    I am so excited for you all about the hippie school!

  7. jodifur

    Oh Mir, you sound so happy. And I’m so happy for you.

    I on the other hand, just got our summer info packet and I’m already annoyed.

  8. Walkingborder (Karen)


    Dude, I have tears in my eyes from reading this. I don’t think you could have found a better place for him. Just, wow.

    I was a big, mostly to myself, supporter of you homeschooling Monkey. Middle school sucks for most everyone, and for someone with Autism, or other “challenges”… I take it all back! All of it. I want to go back to middle school so I can go to this Hippie School you found!

  9. Jennifer

    You found it! I’m so happy for everyone – this is going to change Monkey’s life in such a HUGE way – he’s going to be a totally different child!

    I’m soooo happy for you!!

  10. amanda

    PERFECT! Now how can I find one of these in NC?

  11. ste

    As I read this post, I kept cheering as there was more and more that sounded so great for Monkey! Congratulations! To all of you!

  12. melanie walenciak

    I am thrilled beyond words for both you and Monkey! He gets to thrive and shine and you get to breathe!

  13. Katie K.

    I could not be happier for you! Sounds like a perfect fit.

  14. hollygee

    I did cry! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!

  15. Amanda

    Sounds like an unschool for me. I think it is perfect for curious learners, like your Monkey. I think he will thrive in that environment.

  16. Jen

    You made me cry. Oh how I wish they had a hippy school for my guy. I hope it’s EVERYTHING you guys want it to be!

  17. JoAnne

    Yay! Awesome for everyone! Can’t wait to hear about the progress!

  18. Hally

    Drinks all around! Let’s celebrate the greatness that is ‘Hippie School’. :)

  19. All Adither

    What a great option. I’m really glad you found this. It sounds wonderful for your family!

  20. Nichole

    That’s so wonderful! I’m glad you found a good place. I want a cubby!

  21. Chris

    Is it OK to be excited? Because I am very, very excited about this. Very.

  22. Becca

    That sounds like exactly what I would have benefited from as a kid. Kudos to hippie school!

  23. Crista

    Oh my! The human cubbies did it for me :). I have a good feeling about this place!

  24. Dani


    To amanda on comment #10: http://www.hawbridgeschool.org/ (Saxapahaw, NC) – I can’t sing praises for this school loud enough. A close friend of mine transferred there after public school almost did him in, and it was life changing (and life saving, I believe).

    To self: must find an antique bathtub for the classroom cozy spot – what a brilliant idea!!!

  25. Kelly

    Yeah for hula hoops! So glad. I want my own cubby. :)

  26. getsheila

    Thank god for hippie school! It sounds so perfect and welcoming and inclusive. So so glad you found them.

  27. Brooke

    Wow! How in the world did you find this gem???

    So happy for Monkey!

  28. Varda / SquashedMom

    This school sounds amazing and the “just right” fit for Monkey. Hooray! I am so glad you have found each other.

  29. Cheryl M.

    YAY!!! I’m so happy you all like it so much – especially Monkey, since he’s going to be the one attending. How awesome that he *asked* to go there!

    Now, if we could just get public schools to understand children that well, we’d be all set!

  30. Heather Cook

    I am so excited for you *I* got butterflies on your behalf!

  31. Angela


  32. Jessica

    Awesome! I kind of want to go to this school myself!

  33. EmmaC

    Wow. I just breathed a big sigh of relief for you guys! I’ll be crossing my fingers for Monkey that this school continues to be as awesome as this first meeting!

  34. Stacy

    Awesome!!!! and Hooray!!!!! I hope it ends up being exactly how it sounds.

  35. liv

    THRILLED for monkey! thrilled for you, too — i hope hippie school proves to be the perfect fit that it sounds like it is for your family.

  36. genevieve

    So so so so glad for Monkey and you and Otto and Chickadee!! Because this will be better for everyone, and everyone will feel better for it.
    signed, grad of a public hippie school.

  37. Navhelowife


  38. emily

    It sounds like, as difficult as it may have seemed at the time, that what happened at orientation was necessary to point you in the direction of this school which seems like it will be such a good fit for Monkey.

  39. Chuck

    Pure awesomeness. Congratulations!

  40. elz

    Two cheers for the hippies!!! YAY!!!

  41. Monique

    Yay!!!! So so very happy for all of you!

  42. Isa

    I am crying tears of joy for you and Monkey! Now I am inspired to find a similar schooling situation for my boy! We live in super-hippie Santa Fe, so surely there is something for us here…

  43. Reb

    That sounds absolutely brilliant. Well done on finding it!

  44. Ce-Ce

    Happy hearts! Thank you Jesus!

  45. Tenessa

    How FAN-tastic is this? YAAAAAAAAAAAY!

  46. StephLove

    I’m so very glad you found what seems like a supportive learning environment for Monkey. Hooray indeed.

    I’m sure you’ll go into this later, but how does a homeschool collab work? Are all the parents teachers? Is there a lead teacher in addition to the parents? Is it like a co-op preschool, but for big kids? (We had great experiences with one of those with both kids).

  47. addy

    Ummm so how come no one ever used human cubbies before? Cuz woulda been real handy thanks.very.much. So happy for Monkey – sounds like the perfect environment. I can go too?

  48. kris

    Awesome!! Sooo happy for you guys!

  49. Stephanie

    Sounds like a wonderful fit. Congrats to you all!

  50. Wendy

    What a sigh of relief I just had for you. It sounds wonderful.

  51. Karenp

    Sounds wonderful!

  52. Katherine

    Sounds like just what Monkey needs. It’s so wonderful to have him excited about it. I can’t wait to hear more about how it works once he gets to start. Does he go all day every day or what?

  53. Emily

    My son is in a 1st/2nd blend class and his teacher has an antique bathtub filled with pillows in the middle of her classroom “library.” They call it the reading bathtub and all the kids LOVE it. I’m surprised to hear that someone else had the same thing. Our teacher has been here forever (Oregon) so I’m sure it’s someone else. I guess great minds think alike. Congratulations on finding the right fit or Monkey. It sounds like this will be a great year for both kids.

  54. Laura

    aaand exhale. lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove.

  55. Kelly


  56. Steph

    cue the leaky eyes. so very glad!

  57. Golden

    human cubbies for big kids. Brilliant. I think they should make them for adults.

  58. Jen B

    I am so flipping excited and happy for you guys… It makes me cry! And wish there was a Hippy Hula Hoop school here too. ;) Maybe I should move to my in-laws… (JUST KIDDING)

  59. tammy

    Hooray for Hippie School!

  60. Karate Mom

    Oh, I am SO excited for your whole family! It sounds like such a great place!

  61. Niki

    This sounds fabulous! Do they take 41 year olds? Seriously, congrats on this great option. Our great option came through as well, which is good, since we had no Plan B. I’m excited to hear how Monkey’s year goes.

  62. Beth R

    Oh! If hippy school winds up being anywhere near as good for Monkey as it seems like it will be right now, this will be a WONDERFUL thing for him :)

    And yes, I’m in the watery eyes group. Sniffling and smiling at the same time – it sounds like the gal you were talking to GETS it. And you can’t get better than that!

  63. Kim W.

    I think this has inspired me to look at other school options. What a cool cool cool place.

  64. divrchk

    Tears of joy for the hippie school! I have a feeling Monkey and the rest of your family is going to have such a fabulous year. I cannot wait to read about it. It’s funny all of the crap that you have to go through to see the clear path, no?

  65. Dawn

    Oh, this sounds absolutely perfect for Monkey! I’m so glad you guys found this place.

  66. Sheila

    Two big Patchouli-scented thumbs up for Hippie School!

  67. Karen

    This sounds like just the thing. How fortunate for all of you. I’m so happy for you.

  68. Em

    But not even that hippie! You never once mentioned tree hugging or granola or anything. It sound just wonderful and I couldn’t be happier for you and Monkey!

  69. Chris

    Yeah!!! Is it too pollyanna to say the bad things happened at big public middle school just to get you to this place.

  70. Jaime

    Hooray!! this sounds like a wonderful compromise!!

  71. Sharon

    Totally awesome- I’m so happy for you guys!

  72. Samantha

    Plus what sounds like great support for you and a lifting of the responsibility of homeschooling on your own in the house. How delightful!

  73. Liza

    I want a human cubbie! Way to go — sounds like a much better place for your Monkey.

  74. Lisa

    I’m really looking forward to hearing about your and Monkey’s adventures with Hippie School. It sounds AMAZING! But most of all, it sounds like a place where Monkey could thrive. I wish you much joy in this new adventure!

  75. Veronica

    It sounds so brilliant.

  76. Momma Chaos

    Perfect. It sounds absolutely perfect ! I’m so glad you (&Monkey) found it!

  77. Amy

    Huge sigh of relief for you. :)

    I had a few kids in my class a few years ago that would have totally benefited from a human cubby. That is brilliant.

  78. Emily

    Hip, hip hooray, all right!

  79. The Mommy Therapy

    My nephew is on the spectrum and goes to a school like this with HUGE success. It has been such a joy for him and for my sister-in-law.

    So happy you all have found something that seems to fit. Hooray!

  80. Lise

    I’m so very glad you found this school. It sounds wonderful.

  81. Lynda M O

    As a Hippie, I couldn’t be happier for the lad. What a fabulous find for your family, Mir.

  82. Lynda

    I definitely would love my own cubbie! I work in a special needs classroom and wish our district had the vision for these special kids that your Hippie School does. Can I come work there?!? Best Wishes from AZ.

  83. Cele

    Score three points from outside the arc! and a Woo Hoo! for good measure. More and more places are popping up like this. One is opening in Burps’ area, I am extremely thankful.

    Good luck Monkey!

  84. birchsprite

    That is fantastic news and sounds so perfect. Yay for Hippy School!

  85. mamaspeak

    I’m so happy for you all.

  86. Sheppitsgal

    Oh Mir, that is just so, well, you know, fab!

    Chickie seems to be settled, things are looking up for Monkey. I am so very happy for you all. Ice cream all round! Hugs x

  87. Julie

    Mir I’m so happy for you, Otto and Monkey! Seriously…what a blessing finding this school was!!!

  88. Michele Bardsley

    Woo to the hoo, babe! So thrilled for da Monkey!

  89. Angie

    Hippie hooray indeed! I am so happy for you all!

  90. Leftofordinary

    Fantastic school! Sounds like it will hit the mark in all directions. What a relief! And maybe *I* would love to go to that school too. :)

  91. Peggy Fry

    hell, I want a cubby sometimes! I am not an aspie but I sure coulda used it at school while growing up. Sounds like this will work well for the Monkey. Good for all of you!

  92. JennyA

    Yay! That is so awesome.

    I’m going to put a human cubby in my office.

  93. liz

    I’m so gleeful for you!

  94. mamalang

    I am so happy for you all. I wish I had a cubby at work in my cubicle :)

  95. jennifer

    I love hippies AND their schools. Yay for everyone! And I second mamalang– I want a human cubby, too.

  96. Mary

    This sounds awesome for all of you! Woohoo!

    Oh, and I’m going to SERIOUSLY encourage human sized cubbies in my office.

  97. Debbi

    Wow! Just Wow! I cried reading this. Not only am I so happy for Monkey, this seems absolutely perfect for him!! But I am so happy for you! I can feel the peace, the happiness, the joy, the relief in your writing about this. Super big hugs to you Mir!! And best of luck to Monkey in his new wonderful school!!

  98. Andrea

    I am glad that it looks like you found a place where monkey is understood and will be welcomed, and the school encourages solutions that work for all the kids for their own needs…that is to say, it looks like they understand how to make round pegs and square holes work without having to resort to a hammer to jam it in.

    And seriously, how wonderful Monkey can not wait to get started? This is my major goal for my children, that they like going to school. I always figure we can fill in the around the rest.

  99. Megan


  100. Aimee

    Hippie school sounds AWESOME! I hope Monkey always loves it this much. :D

  101. Joanne

    It can’t be repeated enough.. you are doing an amazing job with Monjey & Chikadee. And it sound slike he is really excited about school (which is half the battle!)


  102. Tracy B

    What a difference a day makes!! I’m so glad you have Hippi School and that Monkey is eager to go there!

  103. Kendra

    Tears of joy are flowing! HOW EXCITING!!!!!! What a lucky kid!

    Tell him not to gloat too much to Chickie about how awesome his new school is! ;)


  104. Jen

    My boys go to a project based learning charter school, which seems like it has a lot of the same qualities as the “hippie school”. The teachers work with who the kids are, rather than trying to make them all alike, and the kids determine a lot of what goes on in the classroom. All the independent learning time has been tough for my older one, and to be honest, last year was so, so hard for all involved (due to where my son was at, not due to the school – the school was wonderful), but overall, the whole system has helped him to grow sooo much. I knew it was the right place for him when we visited and his eyes were huge the entire time we were there (and we were so lucky to get one of the 100 spaces for 6th grade – it was by random lottery, and 2000+ students applied). He is actually excited to start 8th grade in a few weeks – something I never thought I’d see – their class is building a loft in the classroom, to allow for that quiet, alone time some of them need, and which involves 13 year olds using power tools. Sometimes, when things seem impossible, the right decision makes itself obvious. I’m so excited for you guys, and especially Monkey! I wish I could have my own human cubby!

  105. Grace

    I seriously just about cried reading this. It sounds great. I hope it’s all you are dreaming of for him and more.

  106. gilly

    although you have all been through the ringer to get to this place I am beyond thrilled that you have found it
    a place that understands individuals needs
    the quiet cubby just threw me
    a place to go and an invitation to just go there when YOU need to go
    that is a gift from heaven

    sending prayers that this is just the beginning and the year goes up from here

  107. Tricia

    Oh Mir that is such great news. what’s a homeschool collaborative? As in, how does that differ from a plain private school?

    And Isa #42… In Santa Fe, check out Little Earth School or Fayette Street Academy, both K-6th or call either for a recommendation if your son is older.

  108. erma

    Soooooooo glad for Monkey and all of you. Sitting here with tears for all this wonderful news….

  109. vanessa

    Fantastic. I am so, so glad to hear that. I went to hippe Quaker school, and the hippie Quakers were the making of me.

  110. annette

    Looking for the “like” button:) I am so happy and relieved fro you all. Nothing worse than trying to make the square peg fit the round hole!

  111. Michele

    I am SO happy for all of you. Joseph goes to an “alternative” school. Basically it’s a conjoined effort between 3 school districts. I didn’t know about it until I suddenly had a lawsuit I could win plopped in my lap by them. All these options opened up to us when they were faced with not having his state money. Because of all that, I was HIGHLY skeptical, and was going to go with a homeschool route, but decided to play “nice” and tour the school. I’m so glad I did. He’s moving to middle school next week (sweet Jesus how did that happen?) and the new classroom doesn’t have a “human cubby.” Joseph’s old teacher and I talked to the new teacher about his need for an escape hatch. You know what she did? She freakin’ built one. And for the first time – Joseph has kids calling the house asking for playdates. I’m so glad to have found a school-home for Joseph. I’m so glad you seem to have found one for Monkey. It makes such a difference to feel like a part instead of apart.

  112. Elliesee

    I was wondering if you read penelopetrunk.com? She has a homeschooling section now. She has Asperger, her sons have Asperger and she looks quite successful. Have a good beginning of the school year!

  113. Billie

    I am not a crier but this post made me tear up. It just sounds like it will be perfect for Monkey.

  114. Jen

    I need Hippie School for my Monkey. He’s entering 5th grade this fall…new school, new state, new everything. And I don’t think they’ll be able to accommodate him. He’s as twice-exceptional as they come, wasn’t accepted into the district’s GT program, and…Hippie School would be ideal for him. Sigh…

  115. Nancy R

    SQUEEEE! That school sounds awesome.

  116. Heather

    Happy tears <3

  117. Audi

    That sounds awesome. Now if only I could find a place like that. Just the thought has tears in my eyes. Glad you found something for him that he loves!

  118. Katie in MA

    Dude. *I* want to go there!

    What kind of help does the school need? Donations of any kind? (Crafts, old magazines, books, money…)? Next best thing to attending (or teaching) would be helping. :)

  119. Ann Garniss

    Can I go to school there? Yes, I know I’m 35 and have a degree and a job… but that sounds awesome!

  120. Sara

    Yay! So glad for you and Monkey–sounds like an awesome school!

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