Open Connections

OC nurtured their self-reflection and a pursuit for, and mindset towards, exploring new venues.

-Kay Family
, OC Alumni Parent

Kay Family

OC Alumni Parent

The Kay Family

Ken Kay interviewed by Sophia T., OC Teen and Development Committee Intern.


When did your family start coming to OC? 

Noa started OC in 1984 and Jenna in 1987. 


How many years did your young people attend OC and what did their self-directed learning look life after leaving? Did they attend traditional school or homeschool? 

Noa and Jenna each attended OC for three years after which they attended public school. Within the confines of the school system they both were drawn to studio art as an outlet for expression. Since they were naturally adept at math and science, they often made connections between art and science. This included projects on pointillism, sketch-note taking, environmental projects and science illustrations for each of their college theses. 

Noa played the piano and Jenna the violin both through 12th grade. Jenna continued her instrumental interest by learning fiddling and Noa continued by learning the guitar. They both have pursued outdoor activities, e.g., sailing, climbing, kayaking, biking, XC skiing, and hiking throughout the Northwest and abroad. Their artwork often reflects these interests. They also have both immersed themselves in learning Spanish abroad after their formal language classes ended. 

[Editor’s note: From 1978 through the mid-late 1980’s, OC program offerings were for youth ages three to (approximately) nine.] 


How did you find out about OC? 

Through friends. 


What led your family to choose OC? 

Compassionate environment, flexible learning environment, gender equality of opportunities. 


Do your young people have any favorite memories of OC? 

They remember Susan’s magic tricks and Word Presents. They appreciated the free range of access to art materials. Noa has fond memories of interacting with other OC youth—Julia (Bergson-Shilcock, who’s now co-director at OC), Hilary, Joey, and Andrea. Jenna was more of an observer of group dynamics, often telling us about some of the other youth at OC. They both remember Family Build Day as a community bonding experience and the opportunity to do meaningful “work.” 

[Editor: Family Build Day is now called Family Work Day and occurs each September before the start of the program year.]


Do your young people feel that their OC experience has impacted them? 

They were not natural artists, but OC feedback on their art products gave them confidence to pursue learning more advanced drawing techniques. I think that OC nurtured their self-reflection and a pursuit for, and mindset towards, exploring new venues. 


How has OC impacted you and your family? 

It has encouraged us to be self-reflective about our learning experiences and live out the mantra of life-long learners. OC reinforced our belief that learning should not be a competitive endeavor. 


What are your youth currently up to? 

Noa works for Evergreen College Legislative Research Extensions supporting the Washington State Legislature. Jenna works for a sustainable energy consulting company in Portland, Oregon. 


What made you want to continue contributing to OC? 

To keep Susan’s vision and fervent female role model alive. 


What would you have changed about OC? 

I would have liked the program to have accommodated two-parent and single-parent working families more. This might have encouraged a more diverse socioeconomic, cultural, and racial mix of families to participate.