The Nature School Foundation – Past, Present & Future
a home day care business with six children for four years between
1989 and 1992, I realized the best way I could help the environment and
the Earth was through the children, by being with them in nature on a
daily basis. This creates a
sense of unity with the world around us, attuning us to its natural
rhythms. I felt that
healing could really take place through education with children, because
it could create a strong sense of care-taking in the children.
It felt important to work with very young children, because they
are still in touch at that age with their oneness with nature.
Being with them in nature gives them an opportunity to allow
their innate knowingness to flower and grow.
All real healing takes place in the natural world. If we daily
experience exchanges with nature, then as adults
bearing witness to the natural joy and connection of children
with their environment, our own hearts open and there is an incredible
opportunity for healing.
It came to me to create structures for children
that nourish and support a sense of sacredness and divinity in their
learning and in their lives, by having all the learning happen in
connection with and through nature.
The Nature Preschool in Bedford, Massachusetts,
opened with one teacher and 3 children in 1993, to serve children of
ages 3-9. It is a
year-round program, where organic gardening, pond, wetland and wood life
are a daily experience. We
work toward modeling behaviors that emanate stewardship for the earth,
while being peace keepers in the community. We
nourish a sense of gratitude daily, thanking the Earth Mother for all we
receive, through Earth holidays, such as the solstices and equinoxes,
and through ceremony, to give thanks, bless one another and the Earth.
For example, there is a blessing of the seed ceremony at the Spring equinox, and there is an invocation we make to the Sun at the Summer solstice: “I am the Sun, and I bear with my might the Earth by day, the Earth by night. I hold her fast and my gifts I bestow, to everything on her, so that it may grow. Man and stone, flower and bee all receive their light from me. Open thy heart like a little flower, that with my love I may thee dower.
Open thy heart, dear child, to me, so that we together, one light may be.” As the children recite this verse, they do a ceremonially movement, embodying the words they are saying through their bodies.
At present, the nature school is growing and flowering in its eighth year, with approximately 80 students a year. The children enjoy yoga, Sanskrit chanting, walking in a beautiful spiral labyrinth next to the pond by the school. They come to appreciate their own voices and listening to others during our sacred circles, where we use talking sticks. In circle we discuss our dreams, our Spirit allies in the animal kingdom, as well as the fairies and elemental beings that come to us and help us. We go into the woods and make prayers for the Earth, the gnomes, and the animals. Our projects including making hand cream from St. John’s Wort and lavender that are grown in our medicine wheel herb garden. We also make flower essences, we share stories of the healing that the flowers bring. All of our baking and the food we use come entirely from organic sources, along with all materials in the office and classroom. We use recycled materials, and metal cups and plates from India instead of plastic. We compost at the school daily. We don’t use paper towels, instead each student uses their own hand towel, and so we create a minimum of disposable waste. We create only 1 barrel of trash per week for the entire school.
We also encourage a sense of community, in which parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts have an open invitation to join us whenever they can. We love having four or five adults in the class with the children. It creates a bridge for adults and children to be together in a classroom environment, giving an opportunity to connect the life of the school with family life. Learning takes place anywhere and everywhere, without separation between the different spheres of life. Education and life are one.
The symbolic logo of the school describes its mission, in that the child is the seed, who starts to grow roots into the Earth, to know its connection to the Earth, so that the roots and the stem may grow to be strong, all in preparation for the child to blossom. If the child is nurtured with love for the spirit and the soul and with the natural world that makes up its physical beingness, then the child or human being can flower to its full potential. As the child grows strong, its own true life purpose is supported in its natural evolution. We know that each of us come to Earth with a life purpose, and with love and wisdom that purpose can be realized.
It has been a great joy to receive the acknowledgment of the media in newspaper articles, magazine articles and cable television interviews, which have sparked interest in the local community for this year-round nature education. The Yoga Journal has asked for an interview, the Spirit of Ma’at magazine has asked for an article on how the Nature School
Foundation promotes peace in the world, and the Children’s World View Project (CWVP) is holding its second annual world international conference in Haifa, Israel, this coming July, and has invited Council members of the Nature School Foundation to speak on the topic of Children and Spirituality in Education.
The Nature School Foundation is a non-profit, charitable, 501(C3) organization.
The Nature School Foundation was created in 1998 from guidance I received in meditation. When I first thought of the idea to create a nature school back in 1991, the words came into my mind in the same breath, as if from someone else, “and it will go throughout the country.” At the time, I had no idea where that thought came from, because it seemed extraordinarily ambitious. Later I understood that it was Spirit giving me a hint of what was to come. I know that there are angelic forces that are guiding and guarding this project. Against all odds, the Nature School in Bedford has continued to exist. These angelic forces are constantly guiding our movements through daily guidance, and we are the keepers and custodians of the mission that these forces desire to complete through us. We have known that these angelic beings would lead us to all the support we will need to make this vision a reality.
The vision of the Nature School Foundation is to create a model community where education is a natural part of community life, in unity with nature and Spirit, which gives rise to purposeful living. A preliminary sketch of the layout of the community, as we have received from Spirit, is attached. There are three main centers of activity in the community campus: the school, the healing center and the life work labs. These three centers contain the energy of the sacred trinity of love, innocence and wisdom. Garden life, animals, and human beings create an environment that brings together the different kingdoms of nature in unity and harmony. Family homes will encircle the central community space.
This model is being created as a guide to inspire future Nature School communities. Our goal is to inspire and help support communities across the nation that are dedicated to receiving a new educational model that functions from the heart space commanding and working in harmony with the mind, rather than the mind commanding the heart. We will do this by helping communities start their own Nature Schools. How the schools can work in conjunction with community living will by modeled by the Nature School Foundation Community Campus.
Our goal is to have the financial means to provide support for communities, if needed, of money for: purchasing the land, building the school, training the teachers, and offering support for the first three years, with the intention for the communities to become self-sufficient by the end of the third year. Further support beyond the third year will come in the form of training and group discussion retreats made available on an ongoing basis at the Nature School Foundation Campus in New Hampshire.
A substantial part of the Foundation is outreach presentation. There will be Council members willing to travel throughout the nation and the world as spokespeople for the vision of the Foundation. For instance, I will give a presentation that highlights the vision of the Foundation, titled “Healing Ourselves and the Earth Through Education: A Model to Live By; Receiving the Innate Wisdom of Nature and Children Together” at the Haifa, Israel World International Conference on Children and Spirituality in Education.
In the Spring of 2000 I received guidance that it was time for me to stop teaching at the Bedford School in order to begin the process of calling the Council together, creating the model community, fund-raising and writing the curriculum. Since September of 2000 this is what I’ve been working on. The Council has come together and the process has begun.
It is with great joy that we received your interest in our project. I asked my guides at one point how we would receive financial backing for all we are being guided to do. It was said to me that the money would fly in on the wings of angels.
I know that this project is divinely ordained. The love, joy and trust are a daily part of the work. Being present in the moment allows us to receive the changes, flow and evolution of Spirit’s plan.
Another very important message that we have received is that the Nature Schools are being created as vehicles through which the 5th dimensional energies of Heaven on Earth will be anchored. As part of this anchoring we feel that using a natural method of time keeping is essential for children to maintain their sacred connection to Mother Earth. We have been guided to adopt the Mayan Tzolkin Calendar as a vehicle to ground the ancient wisdom of native peoples within the school curriculum. As the children experience the natural frequencies of the Mayan Calendar on a daily basis, it serves to enhance their resonance with Nature and with the cosmos. This calendar, and the many other calendars that the Mayans have received, are attuned to the natural rhythms of the Earth’s evolutions. Half of the six members of the present Council have been living the energies of this calendar, and are being trained directly by several of the Mayan elders. The Nature School in Bedford has also been living the rhythms of this calendar for one year.
One of the Mayan elders has shared with me that the Mayan Council of Elders has agreed that, now is the time to share with the world the sacred wisdom of the Mayan calendar system that they are the keepers of as their prophecies have foretold.
On behalf of the Council of the Nature School Foundation, it is with great honor that I share my gratitude and blessings that the Dove of Peace be with us all.
With Love, Namaste
Cynthia Ann DeSantis