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Welcome to

The Foster Woods

Folk School

Come wonder and wander with us in this place at the foothills of the U.S. Appalachian Mountains. The Foster Woods is a place where snowflakes fall silently to the woodland floor, tucking in a carpet of brilliant leaves. Time is layer upon layer in this place. The voices of a thousand spring frogs sing to the youth of coming summer and the wisdom of fading autumn.

Our place is here, but our community is the world. We believe roots that run deep and limbs that reach high nurture the soul of the Earth and all who call this planet home. Whether you join us in the woods or online, we invite you to community and conversation.

The Foster Woods Folk School focuses on education, storytelling, and the arts within an ecosocial justice framework aimed at celebrating and improving our connections as a global community of human and non-human earthlings.

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In the shadows of the Appalachian foothills,

the veil is often thin.

We learn from the ancestors and teach the children. Wander and wonder with us here.

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beth@fosterwoods.org

(423) 457-2519

 

The Four Schools

ECO-SOCIAL JUSTICE FRAMEWORK

Our programming is divided into four different schools, all working within an ecosocial justice framework. What do we mean by ecosocial justice framework?

At the Foster Woods Folk School, we believe ecosocial justice is a thriving planet that celebrates diversity and makes equity policy. We imagine a world where all people can live in safety and dignity, with fair, sustainable access to resources. We are anti-racists and intersectional feminists, who believe that non-human animals also have the right to safe, healthy lives, freedom, and access to resources fitting for their species. As Lilla Watson said, we believe that "our liberation is bound up" with all people, the planet, and the animals with whom we share our Earth.

BetterEarthlings is our humane education programs including ACT: Animal Club for Tweens & Teens, sanctuary for companion animals, guided nature walks, seasonal celebrations, and nature, gardening, cooking, and food preservation classes. 

ElemenTree offers academic courses within an ecosocial justice framework for elementary students with a full curriculum in English language arts and social studies for third through sixth grades. We hope to soon be expanding into math and science and to younger grades.

LiberateTeen is our history, literature, and political education focus for tween and teen learners. The centerpiece of the LiberateTeen school is our 12-week course covering Howard Zinn's A Young People's History of the United States.

StorytellersStudio includes our theater classes and theater club, classes on traditional literature and folklore, and so much more.

 

Spring 2022 Class Schedule

Click on the class title for more information and to register.

**All times are listed in Central Time USA


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• Beginning in January

The ABCs of Kindness Mon-Thur12 pm Central

Read-A-Loud Practice: Charlotte's Web Mon-Wed 12:45 pm Central

Third Grade Social Studies Tue/Thur 9:30 am Central

Third Grade Social Studies Mon/Wed 10 am Central
Third Grade English Language Arts Mon-Thur10:30 am Central
FULL Fourth Grade Social Studies Tues/Thurs 10 am Central
FULL Fourth Grade Social Studies, Tues./Thurs. 2 pm Central
Fourth Grade English Language Arts, Mon.-Thur. 11 am Central
FULL Fifth Grade Social Studies, Mon./Wed. 9:30 am Central
FULL Fifth Grade Social Studies, Mon./Wed. 1:15 pm Central

Fifth Grade English Language Arts, Mon-Thur1:45 pm Central
FULL Sixth Grade Social Studies Tue/Thur 1:15 pm Central

Sixth Grade English Language Arts Mon-Thur 2:30 pm Central

FULL A Young People's History of the US Mon/Wed 12:15 pm Central

A Young People's History of the US Tue/Thur 12:15 pm Central

A Young People's History of the US Tue/Thur 3:15 pm Central

• Beginning in March

The Right to Vote: A History of U.S. Suffrage, Mondays at 3:15 Central

 

Click here for a list of asynchronous classes.

Click here for a link to ACT: Animal Club for Tweens

Click here for a link to ACT: Animal Club for Teens
 

 


FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: While many of our classes, events and programs include a registration fee, we never want cost to be a barrier to anyone's participation. If you are able to pay a registration fee, please do. Class fees enable us to pay our teachers, operate the folk school, and fund our animal sanctuary. If you are not able to pay a registration fee, you are still equally as welcome to participate. Email beth@fosterwoods.org for scholarship/financial assistance information.

Fall 2022 Class Schedule

Click on the class title for more information and to register.

**All times are listed in Central Time USA
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• Beginning in August

The ABCs of Kindness Mon-Thur 9 am Central

Acting Out: 3rd Grade Theater & Poetry Read-Aloud, Mon-Wed 12:15 pm

Third Grade Social Studies Tue/Thur 9:30 am Central

Third Grade Social Studies Mon/Wed 10 am Central

Third Grade English Language Arts Mon-Thur10:30 am Central

Fourth Grade Social Studies Tues/Thurs 10 am Central

Fourth Grade English Language Arts, Mon-Thur 11 am Central

Fifth Grade Social Studies, Mon./Wed 9:30 am Central

Fifth Grade Social Studies, Mon./Wed 1:15 pm Central

Fifth Grade English Language Arts, Mon-Thur1:45 pm Central
Sixth Grade Social Studies Tue/Thur 1:15 pm Central

Sixth Grade English Language Arts Mon-Thur 2:30 pm Central

The Right to Vote: A History of U.S. Suffrage, Thursdays at 11:30 am Central

• Beginning in September

Acting Out: 3rd Grade Theater & Poetry Read-Aloud, Mon-Wed 4 pm

Read-A-Loud Practice: Charlotte's Web Mon-Wed 4:30 pm Central


A Young People's History of the US Mon/Wed 12:15 pm Central

A Young People's History of the US Tue/Thur 12:15 pm Central

A Young People's History of the US Tue/Thur 3:15 pm Central

• Beginning in October

The ABCs of Kindness Mon-Thur 9 am Central

Click here for a list of asynchronous classes.

Click here for a link to ACT: Animal Club for Tweens

Click here for a link to ACT: Animal Club for Teens


FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: While many of our classes, events and programs include a registration fee, we never want cost to be a barrier to anyone's participation. If you are able to pay a registration fee, please do. Class fees enable us to pay our teachers, operate the folk school, and fund our animal sanctuary. If you are not able to pay a registration fee, you are still equally as welcome to participate. Email beth@fosterwoods.org for scholarship/financial assistance information.

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Meet Our Lead Teacher

Beth Foster is an educator, former newspaper editor, and was director of the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Beth has bachelor of arts degrees in English, political science, and communications with a journalism emphasis, and is currently a graduate student at Pace University in the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History program.

History

THE ANCESTORS

 

The first human protectors of the trees and trails that have come to be known as the Foster Woods are lost to history. It is likely that before Europeans arrived in this area of what is now called Kentucky, this land was home to Shawnee people. An old treaty map shows the lands that include the Foster Woods as belonging to the Shawnee Chief Hokoleskwa, known in English as Chief Cornstalk.

 

We do not know when the Shawnee left or were forced to leave these woods

at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The history that we know picks up

in 1948 when the farm that would include the Foster Woods was sold to

Chester Lee and Lola Mae Meece Foster, the grandparents of Foster

Woods Folk School Lead Teacher Beth Foster. Both the Foster and

Meece families had lived and farmed in the Russell-Pulaski counties areas

of Kentucky for more than a century. Lola and Chester met when they traveled

north with other people in the area to work in migrant harvesting. The Meece

family had immigrated to America from Prussia sometime in the 1700s.

The Foster family’s immigration is unknown with the first known ancestor

in the Americas being the father of William Foster. William is recorded

as joining the Union Army at nearby Mill Springs and fighting with the

12th Kentucky Regiment in the U.S. Civil War. Jacob Meece had also fought

with the Union, mustering into 32nd Kentucky Infantry at nearby Burnside. 

Chester and Lola bought the land from Rufus Adam Godby and Mariah Emma Baker Godby on March 9, 1948. It would be Chester and Lola’s livelihood as they farmed and grew food for their family, which included Reva who was a small child when they bought the farm, and Junior who would be born two years later. However, after only a decade as a land-owning farmer, Chester died on Dec. 25, 1958.

Lola would spend the next six decades working to hold on to the land. She was a factory worker, who farmed and gardened with every scrap of spare time. On September 15, 2017, she said her husband, gone now 60 years, was coming for her that night. As her heart stopped beating, her soul slipped away and glided across those fields she had tended. We imagine she touched the tops of The Foster Woods whose shapes she knew in every season. Slipping out into the starry sky, Chester was waiting for her there. Together they joined all of the ancestors of this sacred place, watching over it from the other side.

Chester and Lola Meece Foster