History of Spring River
“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
~ Rudolf Steiner
Spring River School is an initiative of Jacksonville Educational Community, a pioneering non-profit organization founded by parents and local educators driven by a common desire to create a transformative educational experience focused on the whole-child approach. This impulse led to the establishment of Florida's first Waldorf-inspired K-8 all-outdoor education program. Spring River's formation was supported in part by the caring community of The Playgarden, Inc., who assisted Spring River with Board of Director oversite and administrative support for many years.
The school began in 2014 with a small group of parents gathering in local parks for seasonal community festivals and parent education study groups. The following year, these parents enlisted local teachers to offer homeschool enrichment classes that included World Languages, Movement, Handwork, Nature Immersion, and Dramatic Arts. Based on the needs of the growing homeschool community, Spring River expanded to include a full offering of academic main lessons and enrichment classes, all taught by experienced professional educators. We also developed the area's first K-3 Nature Immersion Forest School, which meets in local preserves and parks two days per week.
Beginning in the fall of 2020, we took our programming 100% outdoors on daily field trips and became the only "All-Outdoor K-8 School" in Northeast Florida. Our families are registered homeschoolers, and we believe that is what serves our community best at this time.
Spring River was established out of love and respect for childhood and a common understanding that teaching is an art. We serve approximately 120 students from all over the Jacksonville area. Beyond our K-8 programming, we seek to serve the community where a need arises. As a result of community need, we also offer Spring River's Dewdrops, an unstructured parent-led playgroup with outdoor meet-ups once a week at local parks. Dewdrops is for caregivers and their young children, ages birth to 5.
Our dedicated teachers are supported by a program director, an enrollment administrator, two faculty chairs, a committed board of directors, and a vibrant volunteer community. We offer hands-on creative programming inspired by Waldorf methods of learning, meeting each family with warmth and joy. We support one another through homeschool classes, festivals, and community gatherings. Our goal is for our community to grow and to continue learning and enriching our lives through a shared experience and reverence for the wondrous capacities of human beings, especially our children.
Spring River welcomes families of all identities and backgrounds with open arms and hearts. We support and embrace diversity in all of its forms, including differences in ethnicity, cultural and religious heritage, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, geographic origin, and family structure. We provide our students with a rich, inclusive curriculum that reflects the world in which we live and fosters a safe atmosphere where every member of the community is respected, and multiple viewpoints can be peacefully expressed. Diversity within our community is an asset. For this reason, we actively cultivate this diversity in all aspects of school life including the composition of our student body, staff, and leadership. We commit to work through the tensions that arise amid genuine community and to use those tensions as a vehicle to self-reflect critically and fearlessly. We believe this commitment to diversity will help prepare today’s children for tomorrow’s world.
We honor our founding parents, committee members, and community supporters: Kathy Bull, Michelle Carter, Carrie Zarka Dooley, Vickey Grover, Megan and Andy Hubbuch, Carrie Ferguson, Samantha Orender, Bryn Rodenhizer, Korrin Rogers, Brie Sloan, Dena Stapleton, and Tamara Vanover.
We are grateful to the past and current Board of Directors of The Playgarden, Inc. for continued support. Our greatest gratitude extends to the many talented and heart-centered teachers who have played such important roles in the growth of our school, pedagogy, curriculum, and offerings.
Enjoy a trip down memory lane with the Photo Gallery and this sweet video honoring Spring River teachers from 2014-2022 below: