“Every afternoon at the end of the school day, my child is happy and excited, satisfied and enriched by the day’s activities. The depth of personal attention and skill that the teachers bring to the classroom follows us home each day.” —City Garden Parent
City Garden School educates children’s hands, hearts, and minds with an intellectually rich curriculum that inspires wonder, reverence, and creativity. We honor and nurture the development of each child, infuse art and storytelling into every subject, and use the natural world as our classroom so children may grow with a capacity for empathy and a will to improve the world.
“An increasing body of empirical research is showing that young people—starting from our earliest learners—who have regular experiences with nature, children who bond with nature, develop critical and creative thinking skills that will help them succeed in life. We’re also learning that immersing children in nature to play and learn can result in reduced stress, improved brain development and restoration, increased social and emotional skills development, and civic engagement.” – The Children and Nature Connection: Why It Matters by Judy Braus and Sarah Milligan-Toffler
Our Teachers & Staff
CGS Board Members
Lawrence Duggan -- President
Jessi Musick -- Vice President
Beth Anderson -- Treasurer
Kristin Hawley -- Secretary
David Marty -- Member at Large
Dawn Harrison -- Member at Large
Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
The City Garden School community is a unique and ever-evolving tapestry that weaves together people from diverse social, economic, and international backgrounds with different beliefs, identities, family structures, abilities, and life experiences. We are committed to respecting and honoring these differences in the life and activities of our school responsibly, with clarity, historical accuracy, and purpose.
We know that we have far to go as a school and as individuals in our understanding of oppression and social justice. Advancing inclusion and equity is one of the guiding forces behind our education and the way that we wish to conduct our day-to-day living. These priorities make equity and inclusion central to our work and aim to bring us closer to the world that we want for our students.
CGS aims to develop a healthy social consciousness within each student. Pedagogically, Waldorf education encourages a critical consciousness by nurturing students’ inherent curiosities, helping them to develop critical reasoning skills, and promoting a consciousness among students that is both empathetic and socially responsible. In addition to the work in the classroom, CGS parents play an important part by sharing their unique cultures and lived experiences with the school. We see the active contributions of our families as vital assets to deepening our understanding and appreciation of each other.
Honoring and exploring diversity is an essential strength to both our community and the education we offer. Students benefit from a deep and rich understanding of the world that is inclusive of all perspectives and experiences.
CGS supports the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America’s Statement of Equity and Racial Justice.
CGS also supports the City of Columbia Principles of Community.
History of City Garden School
City Garden School is a 501c3 nonprofit independent school in Columbia, MO. City Garden School was incorporated first as an LLC by Nicole Knapp-Weber in June of 2013 and then as a non-profit organization, receiving 501c3 status in September 2014. We were founded by a small group of parents who wanted a school inspired by Waldorf education for their elementary students. When we first began, we had 12 students spanning grades 1-3 and one teacher who also acted as the Director. We had a small Board of Directors that met once a month and did much of the admin work as well. We rented two rooms in Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Columbia and we visited Peace Park for recess. Every Friday, parent drivers would help bring our students to a nature area in the county. We visited Three Creeks Conservation Area, Rockbridge State Park, Pinnacles, and local city parks as well. This Outdoor Friday program continued for many years. In our second year, we added a teacher and grade 4. We then had two classrooms, a combined 1st and 2nd grade and a combined 3rd and 4th grade, and around 15 to 16 students. We partnered with the University of Missouri’s Confucius Institute to bring a Mandarin teacher to City Garden for that year.
We strive to teach foreign languages to our students and continued to look for a language teacher. We had a German teacher and then a Spanish teacher. Eventually, we had a Spanish and German teacher and the German teacher also took on some teaching for the addition of a 5th grade. Still, our student body was under 20 students. In the next few years, City Garden remained steady at this rate. We added a homeschooling program for students to visit our classes 2-3 times a week, and many homeschooling families joined us. We also added a part-time Director who was not one of the class teachers.
With the onset of Covid 19, we met the education crisis with outdoor education. It was in the 2020-2021 school year that we first rented Camp Takimina from August to November and March to May, returning to our location at Calvary Episcopal Church in the deepest winter months. We saw a rapid increase in our student body, almost doubling to around 35-40 students. We also added a Middle School Enrichment Program outdoors on Wednesday and Friday mornings and filled this program with 20 students. We had three classrooms for 1st through 5th grade, an Aftercare program and teacher, a part-time Spanish teacher, and a part-time Director and Administrative Assistant. We stopped going on Outdoor Fridays because we were outdoors all week! We enjoyed the outdoors and saw how wonderful it was for our students, so we decided to keep the focus. However, we moved our indoor location to Karis Church, which afforded us a larger indoor location. In the 2021-2022 school year we added a fourth classroom.
In the 2022-2023 school year we have added a kindergarten and a 6th grade, with the goal of becoming a K-8 by the 2024 - 2025 school year. The plan is to add an additional grade for the next two school years. We have added a reading specialist, middle school math teacher, kindergarten teacher, and assistant kindergarten teacher. We will add woodworking in the spring as a compliment to the handwork classes that we already teach. Our school continues to grow, and we are excited that nearly every class is filled to capacity for this school year.