Alternative Learning

Parents of preschoolers and older students can choose from several outstanding local learning environments for their children. Here, three educators share their unique traits of their schools.

Story by Jennifer Grafiada, Photos by Tristin Godsey


Hummingbird School house is a Waldorf-inspired preschool, taught by a Waldorf-certified early childhood teacher.

Year established: 2014
Ages served: 3-5
Enrollment: 15


(From founder and teacher Leana Randol)

One of the most important aspects to Waldorf education is that it sees and considers the whole child as a thinking (spiritual), feeling (soul) and willing (physical) being in its approach to education. From birth to 7, the emphasis is on nurturing the child’s senses and providing a foundation for his or her physical development through movement, self-directed play and through meaningful and creative activities.

This is further supported by being in nature, storytelling, movement circle, songs and seasonal celebrations. Waldorf education believes that the seeds planted in the first seven years of life lay the foundation for how children encounter other human beings and how children creatively participate in life.


The school is surrounded by nature. Windows let natural light in so we can experience and attune to the environment outside. Walls are painted in watercolors that reflect the colors of the sky, the lofts are made from real logs and branches, and the majority of the toys are handmade and of natural materials. Outside there is a garden, a sand area and a fort, which offer a natural play space for the children. 

I believe the hands are an extension of one’s heart and by creating and caring for everything in the environment, you make something special because it is made by you. 

A highlight of the school’s curriculum is the morning movement circle that brings song, verse, movement and games to the children in an imaginative way that reflects the seasons. In Waldorf education, singing is considered asocial art as people can hear their own voice, hear others and truly listen to one another. 

In addition to all of the experiences inside the classroom, the entire class goes outside to play every day, rain or shine.


For more information visit



Cobb School is a private PreK-Eighth grade school emphasizing experiential learning in small classrooms.

Year established: 1994
Ages served: 4-14
Enrollment: 75


(From director Meredith Bliss)

We like to describe what we do as “growing the brain and the heart.” As a school, we strive to provide an outstanding academic program that emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration alongside traditional academic skills.
We also believe that our obligation goes beyond building strong academic skills. 

We have a role in helping children grow into responsible, empathetic members of a community, and to become leaders in small and large ways. Our core values (or “5Cs”) of community, creativity, courage, compassion and  curiosity  form  the backbone of our approach and are critical to the culture and atmosphere we hope are seen and felt in our building.


We believe that children learn best by doing, which means that learning is hands-on, often dirty, joyful and relevant. As a private school, we have a lot of flexibility with our curriculum. This means we can integrate learning across several disciplines, dive deeply into units of study that capture kids’ interest, and focus on deep engagement with content. Our program has a heavy emphasis on science, Spanish and the arts. We also introduce dramatic arts to our students throughout their time at Cobb.

You won’t see a lot of workbooks or worksheets when you visit. It’s more likely you’ll see kids playing, learning games, working in a group with manipulatives, discussing history or current events or engaging in a scientific investigation in the science lab. Every day, there are new examples of hands-on, experiential and interdisciplinary learning where kids are lighting up with excitement and wonder, and celebrating new discoveries.


For more information visit



Maple Corner Montessori is a Montessori-inspired preschool taught by a Montessori-certified teacher.

Year established: 2018
Ages served: 3-6
Enrollment: 20


(From founder and teacher Leanne Jorgensen)

I love that in Montessori schools, from an early age, children are taught extensive geography, botany, zoology and history with beautiful hands- on materials that they can touch and feel.They learn complex concepts via real experiences and projects, and a multitude of songs and stories. The world is a fascinating place and children love learning about it.

I also love that children are able to move through the curriculum at their own pace. Lessons are given one-on-one or in a small group, which makes all the difference. Children are more engaged in the lessons while the teacher can see what they are fascinated by, when they are ready to move forward and when they are drawing connections.

This allows children to reach their unique potential and to nurture their interests, which leads to a lifelong love of learning. It also engages their minds on more levels than just simply listening and repeating information, as their critical thinking skills are continually fostered.

Moreover, when children are allowed choice within a framework, they know that what they are interested in matters, that what they are driven to do is something that is respected and that they are responsible for their learning. This system leads to good work habits, valuable life skills, confidence and initiative: the basis for success.


In addition to academics, our program stresses life skills such as problem-solving, courteous behavior and self-expression. Extensive time in nature every day helps center the children and nurture their spirits as well as their bodies and minds. Field trips, guest speakers, cooking, art and outdoor projects are some of the ways that learning is tied to experience. We have a garden, a lovely tree-filled campus and beautiful classrooms with lots of wood and natural materials where children can work with literally hundreds of materials.


For more information visit