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The Waldorf School in Garden City Debuts New Playground This School Year

The Waldorf School in Garden City Debuts New Playground This School Year

Susan Braun, Waldorf School of Garden City's former administrator, asked Early Childhood teachers to dream up what an ideal playground would look like for mixed-age kindergarten children more than two years ago. The teachers rolled up their sleeves and began to imagine what this play space would entail, meeting with architects and play space designers in 2018 and breaking ground this past June, and will be debuting the new playground when classes begin this September.

Early Childhood Chair Keelah Helwig says many factors were considered when designing the space. “We thought about our students, and what physical challenges a four-year-old yearns for, what would create opportunities for healthy risk for our five-year-olds, and what spaces would allow our six-year-olds to plan, negotiate, collaborate and initiate age-appropriate play.”

The teachers shared with the designers what brought their students joy, and described how vital open-ended play was for the developing child. The architects and designers listened, observed the children in play, and presented the school with ideas, sketches, and equipment. “We marveled at what was presented and stood in awe of what would be,” Helwig said.

Ground broke on the new space as soon as classes were dismissed in June 2019, and work continued on the playground throughout the summer. With the help of the school’s facilities department and alumnus Kevin McAndrew ‘78, a partner at Cameron Engineering, the teachers’ dreams turned into a reality.

While visiting the school over the summer to check on the developing space, Helwig says she was astounded by what she saw. “It was as if I was waking from a dream. The space was brimming with life! Plants were swaying in the breeze, bright yellow flowers were reaching up to the sun, a giant log—big enough for a teacher to crawl through—lay beckoning for children to come climb and discover," she said. "Tremendous boulders, hills and winding pathways revealed themselves as my gaze spanned the space. All was held by a beautiful cedar fence, framed by dark green bushes. The new playground is a sight to behold, and we could not be more pleased and excited to share it with our children in September."

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The Early Childhood teachers are thankful to everyone involved in the creation of the new playground. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Susan Braun, who served as Project Manager, as well as Kevin McAndrew ’78 and the architect designers from Cameron Engineering," they said. "Our thanks extends to Fred Rhoads, Victor Rivera, and Carlos Ayala who supported the construction teams, and to Chris McCarthy, a current parent, who lovingly created our mud kitchens. We are forever grateful to our generous community for this tremendous gift that will benefit our Early Childhood children for years and years to come.”

The Waldorf School of Garden City is entering its 72nd year. Opening Day for kids in first through 12th grade is Tuesday, September 3, and Early Childhood classes will begin on Monday, September 9. Registration for Nursery and Mixed-Age Kindergarten is still open and space space is limited! Apply here.

The Waldorf School of Garden City
225 Cambridge Ave
516-742-3434
www.waldorfgarden.org