Mangrove School of Sarasota is a nature school that embodies the place in which we live and the time in which we live. Grown with mindfulness and attention to what is local, abundant, native, and sustainable, we strive to support our planet, while providing ample opportunities for practical skills that seem more important now than ever, to foster self reliance, ingenuity, and resilience in our students.
We are creating a campus that supports our curriculum focus of passing on regenerative agriculture techniques, homesteading, sustainability practices, and reverence for what supported nature, long before humans cultivated the land.
The campus will include outdoor (covered from sun/rain) classroom areas for each student grouping, along with innovative features that allow rainwater collection, compost building, and space for homesteading skill building.
How We Arrived Here:
In anthroposophical philosophy, a school itself is a being, with a biography and destiny of its own. Our school was originally born under a vision of a traditional Waldorf school through the hands of dedicated, experienced, teachers and parents. The school dutifully exemplified this vision for many years, until it reached its teenage years. This is not unlike human teenagers, who begin the process of forming their self identity; no longer living through their parents, they begin to uncover what defines them as a person. Interests they may have been dedicated steadfastly to previously suddenly are shed or shift dramatically, as their own path to individuality begins.
Right on time for this process, the school began to be drawn to the area of nature education in its early adolescence. Over seven years ago, our very first Forest Fridays were born from a deep longing to unite our children with the land they live on, and play in, and nurture, leading the way for them to become junior land stewards with a deep reverence for all living beings on earth. Weaving these intentions into the Waldorf curriculum was a completely organic union, and profound teachings flowed towards us each year.
New connections with other local naturalists were kindled, and passionate, enthusiastic teachers were called here, expanding our community constellation. Each one of these elements fortified our resolve for an education that values a deep relationship to the nature that surrounds us, as we see the healing, tonic effects of nature on the whole being. Now in its 21st year, this school is ready to leave “home”; there is a yearning for a new landscape beyond four walls of a classroom to fully realize our existence as a Waldorf inspired nature school.
We are glad to finally be able to share that we have secured a piece of land near Celery Fields that offers an opportunity to create an outdoor school that embodies the place in which we live and the time in which we live. Grown with mindfulness and attention to what is local, abundant, native, and sustainable, to support our planet, along with ample opportunities for practical skills that seem more important now than ever, to foster self reliance, ingenuity, and resilience in our students. In what will feel like just a moment, they will be the ones shaping the world; we want them to have a sustainable model as their foundation from which to further innovate, and bring forth into the future.
In a world where nearly everything is automated, manufactured and disconnected from human hands, acres of land ripe for planting and building offers a unique opportunity to our community to develop a feeling of kinship with the earth. The greenery that sustains us will be our own creation; structures from local resources, plantings, trees, meadows for playing, gardens for nourishing foods, and community gathering places for coming together are all essential elements that bring us all forward in health and fulfillment.
Imagine a property lush with trees and native plantings and each class has its own shaded open air classroom with plenty of shade and storage for their gear. Evidence of proactive measures for water and energy conservation dot the landscape, and joyful, healthy children contribute, play and commune with nature. Although not far from town, there is a feeling of being secluded and shielded from the frantic pace of modern day society. A restorative environment for us all!
We are currently in the special exception process to obtain a school zoning designation; this will take some time, but in the meantime we will be able to begin planting.
Thank you all so much for your support of an education that allows young people to develop in such a way that they bring the potential for social renewal to humanity. Together we can envision an abundant, sustainable future, while building resilience, health, and joy for our community and for our children.
As we move into this space, our commitment to a Waldorf inspired education will remain, however, you can expect us to be even more drawn to nature education. What does this mean? While still using the developmental guideposts of the child’s changing consciousness, we will bring even more naturalist practices to the traditional Waldorf curriculum, like two vibrant streams flowing into one river. The content provided will still very much be the mirror of the child’s internal experience, however, it will look different from other schools due to our outdoor setting and passion for nature education.
For example, when learning zoology in fourth grade, in an outdoor natural setting, the students will go far beyond curriculum guidelines as they commune with animals every day at school, on nature walks, or even in their class space.
Bringing these two complementary approaches together offers a gradual unfolding of the child, beginning with their immediate surroundings and what is concrete, and progressively expanding outward into the abstract, with the ultimate goal being a profound capacity for self-knowledge and their individual path, as well as a connection to their land and the ability to read their environment. Our specialty classes will also reflect this transition, with more emphasis on naturalist capacities and farming throughout the week, rather than only Forest Fridays or gardening class.
More details of what this looks like for each age group, coming soon.