Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings 6/8/14

Sunday musings…

1) World Cup. Two pitchers each take no-hitters, shut-outs into the 9th inning.

If no one scores they set up a home run derby.

2) Uniboob. Term heard for the first time in the gym yesterday. Apparently the unfortunate result of either bad design or a bad fit.

Fear the uniboob.

3) Vacuum. Some 40+ years ago a little girl came home from elementary school and asked her Mom why all of their family friends of color were bad people. Turns out the little girls teacher had made disparaging remarks about a picture of a mixed-race couple. Outraged, the Mom promptly started the process of withdrawing her 3 girls from the public schools and placing them…


There really was no “where” around about 1971 or so. No place to send kids if the schools did not line up with a family’s values, or if a kid for whatever reason just didn’t, or couldn’t, fit in. Homeschooling was virtually non-existent, Montessori was in its infancy, and not unlike today most private schools were just beyond the financial capabilities of most families, even if there was a perfect philosophical fit. Outside of the public school system there was essentially a vacuum.

Most folks would have just gritted their teeth, put their collective heads down, and just made the best of the situation, especially given the dearth of options. Uh uh. Not my Mother-in-Law. Nope. With the full support of my Father-in-Law, Sandy took her 3 young daughters (Mrs. bingo is the oldest) and joined maybe 2 dozen families in starting their own school. One that would match their collective values while at the same time providing an environment of collective caring and kindness.

Upattinas was created to fill the vacuum.

It was a pretty free-wheeling place, Upattinas. The “Open Classroom” to the max. Free to choose from the ever-expanding menu of educational theories the founding families chose pretty much everything. Kids who would succeed anywhere were mixed with kids who had no shot to succeed in a traditional school, and the space between those extremes was filled with all the rest of the kids whose parents sought for them an eduction that was directed by the needs of the individual child under the guidance of the founding families. Pretty cool, very unique place.

This weekend Upattinas will celebrate its last commencement. After 40+ years of providing an alternative to those families who had none, Upattinas will close its doors, to live only in the hearts and minds of the families who passed through those doors over the years. How come? Well, the simplest answer is that there is no longer a vacuum, that there are now countless options for parents and children who would be better served by schooling outside the public school system. Homeschooling, internet-based learning, and public/home hybrids are now ubiquitous. Brick and mortar alternative schools like Upattinas could have a place if they became more like, well, something they’re not. More and more effort is now required simply to keep the doors open, effort that once was expended almost entirely on teaching the children. Upattinas could survive in today’s world of bountiful educational choice if it, and its families, chose to compete for a place in what is now an educational market.

That’s not the Upattinas way.

40+ years ago my Mother-in-Law Sandy saw a vacuum in the world of education and she filled it with an alternative. Upattinas became one of the first of the genre known as such, Alternative Schools, dedicated to teaching those who needed something different. Upattinas opened not only the hearts and minds of its children but also the doors to a vastly bigger educational landscape. Sandy’s school has demonstrated that you need not teach every child the same way, need not discard nor disregard any child who did not fit in a traditional slot.

So mourn not the passing of Upattinas. The world is filled with the children, and children of children who were blessed by that group of parents who saw a vacuum and refused to let it remain so. Teachers and doctors and artists and athletes and electricians and carpenters and…well, you get the picture. Each of them, all of them, better versions of themselves than perhaps otherwise, for a stroll through the front door at Upattinas.

The lesson for the rest of us, of course, is to have the vision to see the vacuums in our lives, and the courage to fill them with something better. Having done so, we should be at peace.

Congratulations to my Mother-in Law on filling the vacuum. You won, Sandy! Be at peace.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at June 8, 2014 7:26 AM

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2 Responses to “Sunday musings 6/8/14”

  1. June 12th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Joan says:

    Oh my gosh! I know enough to know that “Up At Tina’s” became the phrase-name for this school. I homeschooled my two boys until last fall. One is currently in public high, the other cyberschool. We never visited Uppattinas, but from the word of mouth I know it was a wonderful place. Congrats to your mother-in-law.

    I found your site through Dr. John’s, in the process of researching physicians thoughts on finances. The firm I work for has designed a program to help early career physicians change their financial trajectories. If you’d like to read or share our book on the subject, or if you’d like to offer feedback on our next book, designed for peak career physicians, please let me know.


    Joan Hill

  2. June 12th, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Dr. Darrell White says:

    Hi Joan,

    Upattinas is/was a very special place. Would not have been the right place for me or my siblings (too competitive to fit into such a cooperative place!), it was nothing short of perfect for hundreds of kids over the years. Good luck to you and your boys on your educational journey.

    Feel free to send me info on your books, or the books themselves.



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