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The Joy of Becoming

Chris Cameron likes to speak at Room 1’s end-of-the-year class parties about how long each child who is graduating to kindergarten has been in his class. The discussion is always inclusive, citing the preschool room each child was in previously. Chris remembers and mentions the tenure of the children’s siblings and asks alumni parents how long they estimate that they’ve been coming to The Meher Schools. One mom called out sixteen years.

Chris shares some of the five-year-olds’ career plans: the ambitious boy who dreams of becoming both an astronaut and Formula 1 race car driver, a girl wants to be a teacher. Preschoolers’ plans for future careers often have little to do with practicality but a lot to do with their budding identities.

At Meher School’s fifth grade graduation, some of the same themes are explored, where the unique qualities and aspirations of each student are celebrated, often through an original poem. Both graduations mark a check point, an opportunity to glimpse the unfolding of a child’s self at a turning point in their educational lives. We know from speaking with countless students that a vital part of our students’ self-development has percolated in a vital relationship with the diverse terrains that make up the Meher Schools’ physical campus.

From an early age, central aspects of children’s social and emotional development emerge through their relationships with the physical world. In our school, preschoolers learn through their senses about who they are as they ride trikes in the play yards and explore the manzanita forest and butterflies in the Children’s Garden. Elementary students develop fantasies of who they will become hiding in the kindergarten bushes, working in the Seven Circles Garden, and playing ball on the big playground.

Our alumni tell us about the rush of memories they feel when they walk around on a visit, and their conviction that the currents of the earth, on this hidden hillside in Lafayette, have provided special nourishment for their growth.

There is a legacy of joy from people who have walked and played here for decades. Next year will be our 50th anniversary, and we are continually grateful for the 47 years we have had at our current location, where everything—flowers, vegetables, Seven Circles animals, children, and staff—vibrate with all they are becoming.


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