We are a group of parents, educators, and caregivers, with various professional backgrounds and life experiences. We share at least one thing in common: love for our children and an understanding of the importance of self-directed, developmental education. Our story begins with Marigold Children's Garden, a home daycare owned and operated by Rachel Bleicken, who is a former Waldorf school teacher. After a couple of years running a home daycare, Rachel realized there is a greater need in our community for a school where children's developmental needs are met and the focus is on fostering a love of learning and helping children discover who they are and how they can contribute to the world, rather than focusing on basic skills for the purpose of passing tests designed by self-important stakeholders.
Many of the families enrolled at Marigold Children's Garden agreed that the public education system is unacceptably broken, and a study group on Waldorf Education was formed. Soon the study group became the board of trustees. Now the board is working together to create a school where learning is considered something that comes naturally to children, rather than something they must be taught, or a chore they are forced to complete, and where facilitators practice the art of educating in freedom. At the heart of our school are two streams of thought in education: the progressive philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, known as Anthroposophy, and self-directed education, as practiced by Agile Learning Centers (ALC). Our facilitators synthesize the developmental, arts-based methods of Waldorf schools with the self-directed approach to education by offering classes and lessons for children based on their developmental needs, while allowing the freedom for children to explore their own interests.
Where We Are
Rachel is currently operating a home daycare called Marigold Children's Garden. This fall, we will begin meeting for Forest Preschool/Kindergarten in a beautiful public wooded area next to the Occoquan River in Lake Ridge, Virginia. For now, we do not have a building, although Rachel's home is in the neighborhood (a short walk from the forest) and will be used for bathroom breaks as well as a meeting place for festivals and an emergency shelter.
We are currently searching for someone who is willing to share a building and land for us to use, as well as fundraising to gather $800,000+ to purchase land and build a school. In the meantime, our board development committee is conducting a site-search for research purposes. Our aim is to find a piece of land suitable for our growing school. We are primarily looking for land where we can build something specifically designed for us, as well as properties with an existing building that can be renovated into the school building we need. We are working to advertise our school in Woodbridge and Prince William County.
We are a nonprofit initiative. Help our fledgling school take flight by donating below: