A Lively Learning Experience
The Meher Schools, originally called The White Pony, began quietly in the summer of 1975, the fulfillment of the dream of Murshida Ivy Duce for a school for children based on Meher Baba's principles of love, harmony, beauty, and selfless service to life. Our school draws its philosophy from the spiritual teachings of Meher Baba, who was also Murshida Duce's teacher.
The immediate needs of our community were for an affordable preschool and daycare for children of working parents, most of whom were single working moms. We responded to that need. We opened our doors in the parish hall of a local church for summer sessions. We quickly expanded our programs beginning in the fall of 1975, and added kindergarten. Within a few years, we had expanded up to tenth grade!
Initially, our elementary school curriculum was a blend of two teaching methods. We chose to experiment with the Waldorf method created by Rudolph Steiner, and the educational construct created by Maria Montessori. These apparently opposite teaching methods, in practice, fully complemented each other.
We created our program by having two teachers team-teach, one trained in Waldorf and the other in Montessori. Our classes were rich with storytelling, hands-on activities, dance, rhythm, music, art, and integrated lessons ("main lessons"). Right from the start, we began to develop our program of the arts.
In 1979 we again outgrew our space and began a search for new, more permanent quarters. We chose our current location, the Montecito School in the Lafayette School District. Here is where we added grades 7 through 10. Murshida Duce changed the name of the school to The Meher Schools (the name "Meher" means compassion) for all grades except the preschool.
We also added an infant/toddler program and were eventually licensed for 80 infants and toddlers.
In 1982, we consolidated our programs by eliminating the middle school and high school.
Ultimately, we eliminated the infant program when it became obvious that we were really not serving the community needs by having a waiting list of over 200 preschoolers. We only had room to take children as infants, because they all stayed on. When we eliminated the infant program we were able to expand the preschool program to serve over 150 children.
We were now a preschool beginning at age two and an elementary school that went through grade five. Since then, The Meher Schools has offered programs for children aged two through fifth grade. Our school continues to be open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in order to meet the needs of working families.