Personal Profile: Nikki Kenyon, Principal of SelfDesign
- How long have you been a part of the SelfDesign Learning Community?
I have worked with SelfDesign since 2007 in a variety of capacities (LC in K-9 and in SE, as well as educational leadership roles). My four children have been SelfDesign learners for as long as I have!
- What attracted you to SelfDesign?
As a parent, it has always been important to me to provide choice and opportunities for my children to determine their own path and to explore who, what, and how they want to be in the world. When my children were school-aged, I was thrilled to find SelfDesign which allowed for this natural unfolding of self, unattached to a timeline or a set of expectations. When I started as an LC there was this wonderful resonance that has stayed with me since that time.
- What is your favourite part/s of working at SelfDesign?
The people – the learners – I feel incredibly joyful and hopeful that I get the opportunity to witness our remarkable learners’ journeys and hear their stories. I really appreciate the passion of the people of SelfDesign – the parents, educators, administrators supporting our children to live, love, learn and grow.
- Why did you choose to enrol your family here?
I have 4 of my own children ages 9, 10, 13, and 15 in SelfDesign. All of them have been SelfDesign learners over the course of their lives. Allowing them space to be curious and follow their interests and passions has kept us here over the course of the past 11 years.
- What is your favourite memory of SelfDesign in action?
I have so many favourites, having worked with many families over the years! Some of them include:
- meeting with new families the first time, exploring the world of possibilities in SelfDesign, and creating a mind map with a learner as their first learning plan
- making friendship bracelets together while chatting on a video call with a teen learner
- witnessing one particular learner who struggled with reading, but wanted it so bad, read to me in a video they sent via Observing for Learning communication
- If you could tell the world one thing about SelfDesign, what would it be?
SelfDesign allows learners to live love learn and grow with and in their families and communities, doing things that matter to them, and it works! It is my privilege to witness the path these remarkable children and youth take as they become remarkable adults who know who they are, what they want, who are flexible and curious, who try new things and continue to grow every day.
- Tell us one thing about yourself that is an example of SelfDesign in your life.
I have developed a love of using power tools in the past few years! Apparently, I like to build furniture from scratch. It started when I had a vision for a coat rack (essentially it was trim/wainscotting with coat hooks) on a wall in our home. I had an image in my head, which I drew out on paper (measured and to scale, of course). I had done the drawing with the idea that my super handy husband would build it for me at some point. One day while my husband was at work, I got curious about what that wall looked like under the trim. I took off a piece of trim and realized it was covering a pretty big gap in the drywall. Now that I had taken it off, it was clear I had to do something to fix it. So I spent the day figuring out how to use all the power tools in the garage, calling my husband to ask him cryptic questions like “If I was going to let the air out of the compressor, how would I do that?”, and bringing the image from my head into real life. It turned out beautifully! And even better than that, I had uncovered the joy of working with my hands in this way. I have since built a set of built-in bookshelves, as well as picture frames, a loft bed, and a coffee table with a trundle drawer.
- What is your vision/goal for SDLC?
I want to ensure that learners can be supported through relationships with their parents, families, learning consultants, extended learning team, and communities to find their place in the world, to be authors of their own stories. My vision/goal/work is to ensure that SDLC has supportive structure and organization and a culture of curiosity and innovative thinking. This allows us to build on and remain true to the roots of the SelfDesign model and philosophy, and which ultimately allow us to continue to support learners and families along their journeys for many years to come.
- If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would that be and why?
I am so curious about people generally – interested in their stories and journeys – I have often wondered what it would be like to just go to coffee with random people, strangers, and learn of them and from them, a different person every week. I guess I would like to go to dinner with anyone and everyone, one person at a time. One person I would like to have dinner with is Brandon Stanton who created the Humans of New York project in 2010 because he essentially did that!