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Lessons From the Growing Connections Garden:

Reflecting on our Growing Connections this past school year, I want to share what is behind “gardening” here at Rivendell. First, our school community is lucky to have a garden and a greenhouse in our urban setting. It is a place full of wonderment that sparks questions, surprises, and appreciation for beauty in our environment.

It is a place of growing together. As our children go through physical and emotional changes during their school years, we can relate many of their feelings to lessons in the garden. Children need new clothes as they might get too tight as they grow. When plants grow, they need to get transplanted into bigger pots, as the roots need more space. When children move on to a bigger school, we connect that with our butterflies. We release them in the garden when it is time for them to move on.

Our garden is also a place of inclusion. Everyone can come to the greenhouse when they are ready. Transitions can be tricky for some children; the trip there may be overwhelming. I work closely with classroom teachers and SEITs so every child can be successful in Growing Connections. Groups are small, and there are few distractions in the greenhouse. It is also wheelchair accessible. As children learn about what a plant needs to grow, such as soil, water, and sun for light and warmth, they learn about caring for the plants and what that means. We talk about fairness. Every seed and plant can grow into something beautiful if we treat them with care equally. We count while we water. After the children reach number three, they move to the next plant to share the water among all the plants.

Most importantly, the garden brings our Rivendell community together. Every classroom participates in collecting food scraps and adding them to the food compost tumbler. This year, the school effort is evident as we are rewarded with beautiful and nutritious soil. Next spring, the children will use it to fill many pots, plant seeds, and produce another beautiful garden.

Brigitte Yohe

Growing Connections Teacher

📚📚We’re excited to announce that next week is Rivendell’s Book Fair!📚📚📚

The Book Fair is a wonderful way for Rivendell families and friends to fulfill teachers’ wish lists of books to add to the classrooms.  This year, Rivendell has partnered with Cobble Hill-based bookstore Books are Magic, and the Book Fair will take place entirely online from Monday, March 14th to Friday, March 18th.  Books are Magic has created a special website for Rivendell with all of the teachers’ requested books.  Families and friends are invited to shop using the code “RIVENDELL20” – feel free to not only shop for books for the classroom, but for yourself as well.  As an added bonus, 20% of all proceeds purchased with the special code during the Book Fair week will be donated to Rivendell!

The Details:

When: Monday, March 14 – Friday, March 18

Where: Books are Magic (

How: Use the code “RIVENDELL20” at checkout when you shop!

My Return to Rivendell

by Willa Moore, Assistant Teacher

I recently told a student in Classroom Three that I had attended Rivendell School when I was a little girl and was met with a look of utter shock and glee: “You?!” she cried, “You went here? To Rivendell?” Her excitement was both because of the awe-inspiring reminder that even grown-ups were once little, but it was also recognition that she and I shared this special experience of being a friend at Rivendell. She scurried around our classroom, telling friends the news she had learned and reassuring them that she was indeed right, and when their eyes inevitably shifted to me for confirmation, I’d nod, letting them in on my little secret. Because it is, in fact, true!

Just like the parents of all the friends who stared at me wide eyed over this big news, my parents made the decision to send me to Rivendell School, at that time called The Children’s House, located on 7th street, and later decided to send my younger brother there as well. They felt that their daughter would be treated as someone who could learn so much, yet simultaneously someone who could be learned from. They valued that their daughter would be taught not just the rules that exist at school, but also the reasons for these rules.

Just like the children I have the privilege of spending my days with, my time at Rivendell was marked by a period of intense learning and growth. I learned to be a friend to people I am still deeply close with today, I learned to be a part of a group, to share and negotiate and compromise, but most importantly I learned about myself, about what I wanted and how to ask for it, slowly starting to become my very own person.

I never quite realized what an impact my time at Rivendell had on me until I journeyed back to Rivendell in the Summer of 2018, after the opportunity arose to work in Summer School. The jitters that come with beginning a new job lasted only until I stepped foot inside the door. Even in an unfamiliar building, I felt this sense of warmth that I can only equate to coming back home after a long time away. I am not sure what about it was so instantly comforting and familiar – perhaps it was the physical aspects of the school, like the rugs I encountered in Classroom Four that I instantly remembered having rolled out in my own classroom to “do a work,” or when I realized the candlestick holder we use for birthdays is the exact same one I had seen in a photo of Shelly and me blowing out the candle at one of my Rivendell birthdays. Or perhaps it was something less literal, like the feeling I got from the teachers around me that no challenge was too challenging, no idiosyncrasies too idiosyncratic.

And now here I am back again, no longer a student but an Assistant Teacher, yet I am struck by the idea that my return to this home is marked by yet another period of intense learning and growth. Furthermore (and this is almost too cyclical for me to wrap my head around), now the people who supported my growth when I was little are doing it all over again. Katy, Shelly, Jane and Lissy (to name just a few) were a part of my Rivendell experience then and are now my teachers again.

There is something magical about being back here. I am proud to be here because in the same way that my Rivendell education has shaped me into who I am today, every day I see it shaping the children in Classroom Three. As we roll out rugs to “do a work” together, I feel privileged to watch these children learn and grow, but also feel lucky that I get to simultaneously learn from them.

25 Years of Rivendell: The Alumni Community

by Angela Carola, Rivendell Board of Trustees

As parents of Rivendell alumni, we will always be vital to the success and growth of Rivendell School. While our children were here, we experienced what it means to be part of the community and see the strong sense of understanding about others that our children gained through the Rivendell mission. We embraced and advanced our school culture and contributed significantly to the Rivendell we enjoy today. As such, we will always be important members of the Rivendell community.

There are a number of ways we can stay connected to fellow alumni parents and the mission of the school:

  • Attend alumni events. There will be more alumni events for you and your children in 2020 as Rivendell celebrates its 25th Anniversary. There may even be opportunities for you to host a Parent of Alumni reunion event. If you are interested in more information, please email:
  • Keep in touch—stop by for a visit or send an update about your alumnus/alumna or family.
  •  Make sure we have your current information so you receive news and information about alumni activities. If your contact information has changed since your last year at Rivendell please email
  • Make the Rivendell Annual Appeal part of your annual gifting plan. The annual Appeal is the cornerstone of all fundraising at Rivendell School and gives our school financial strength and flexibility which enables us to support Rivendell’s commitment and mission to promote excellent inclusive early childhood education through our Preschool, Evaluations, and Special Education Programs.

Rivendell Alumni parents often share anecdotes about the small interactions they see their grade school or even teenage children have with others, and how those interactions would look different if not for the perspective they gained at Rivendell. We can all agree supporting the spirit and mission of the school will help Rivendell thrive. Your continued involvement is paramount to making sure that happens.

First CHIPS Food Drive of the School Year!

The first fall Food Drive for CHIPS (Community Help in Park Slope) was a wonderful success!  Rivendell families contributed granola bars and individual servings of milk or water, which were counted and packed by our preschoolers in ‘take away’ bags that they decorated in their classrooms at school.  We deeply appreciate the opportunity the Food Drive offers parents and teachers to talk with our young students about ways to support others who don’t have enough.  It’s all in keeping with the Rivendell belief that learning about others and learning to think about and accept our differences and similarities, has lasting benefits for everyone. This lies at the heart of our firm commitment to each other and to inclusive Montessori education.

New Friends From Halfway Around The World

It was a pleasure to host a visit from the teachers and some of the students from The Inclusive Outdoor Classroom, a program based in Malaysia.  Our colleagues at the Maple Street School organized the visit to Rivendell and the group was accompanied by Maple Street Assistant Director Peggy Francois.  We enjoyed a lively tour with lots of opportunities to share thoughts about our Montessori philosophy and shared mission of inclusion and answer questions about Rivendell Preschool as well as our CORE, evaluation and special education itinerant teaching programs.

Here’s a photo of our visitors with Peggy Francois and Rivendell’s Director, Katy Hill.

Planting the Seed of Kindness at Rivendell School

Planting the Seed of Kindness at Rivendell School

This article originally appeared in the Brooklyn Paper on June 15, 2018.


It sometimes seems that Rivendell School, for children ages 2–5, is the best-kept secret in the Gowanus area.

The beautiful, modern building is an inviting environment, surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and gardens.

The school has its own garden, too, tended by the children. It’s all part of Growing Connections, the hands-on program that allows the children to experience planting and harvesting. They get to feel dry and wet soil. They water plants. Then, they share the fruit, vegetables, and herbs that they have grown, taking pride in seeing it all from start to finish. At the same time, they learn valuable and age-appropriate science lessons about composting, the life cycle of seeds, and how the changing seasons impact gardening. They see for themselves that soil, water, and sun are essential to growth.

Brigitte Yohe, the Growing Connections teacher, says, “Children have watched their Halloween pumpkins decompose and become soil throughout the long winter months.” Now that spring is here, “They see first-hand how the seeds left inside germinate and produce a beautiful new pumpkin plant.”

Every day is Earth Day at Rivendell, where the children collect food scraps from lunch to share with composting worms. They separate their trash into the correct recycling bins, learning at a young age to become responsible world citizens who respect the earth.

This positive environment is in keeping with the philosophy of Maria Montessori, who believed that a more peaceful world begins by nurturing each child’s spirit with kindness, compassion, and love of learning. Such activities also encompass the school’s philosophy that emphasizes the power of team-building activities.

Children from all backgrounds, and with a variety of learning styles, are welcome, as the school’s philosophy stresses the importance of learning to get along with everyone. Accepting and respecting differences among people has lasting benefits for everyone.

Rivendell offers inclusive programs that promote excellence in early childhood education. Emphasis is placed on learning designed for different levels of readiness, and the school is committed to providing support to the families that it serves. There is a generous child-to-teacher ratio in every classroom at Rivendell as well as extra support for students who need it. As a result, the school is a place where children thrive and learn together.

“Rivendell is a special place for our daughter and for us,” say Rivendell parents, Angela and Scott. “What our daughter learns from working alongside her peers has helped her become inquisitive, empathetic, and kind.”

The history of Rivendell dates back to 1977 when the pre-school opened in a Park Slope brownstone called The Children’s House of Park Slope. In 1998, it was incorporated into Rivendell School, which was founded in 1995.