About Us

“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

children laughing at desks in school
children playing holding hands in circle


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.  

Outdoor Education

City Garden School emphasizes being outdoors. Our community loves being outside, but that’s not the only reason we have moved to integrated nature-based learning. We also know that connecting with nature is what’s best for children and for our 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

Head of School

Head Middle School Teacher

Middle School Math Teacher

5th grade teacher

4th grade teacher

3rd grade teacher

1st/2nd grade teacher

Head Kindergarten Teacher

Assistant Kindergarten Teacher

Spanish Teacher

Student Support & Friday Games Teacher

Handwork Teacher

Woodworking Teacher

Aftercare Teacher

Ali Freeman

Aftercare Teacher

Hailey Jackson

Administrative Assistant

CGS Board Members

Beth Anderson -- President

Jessi Musick -- Vice President

Beth Anderson -- Treasurer 

Vacancy -- Secretary 

Dawn Harrison -- Member at Large

Morgen Sharp -- Member at Large

Abram Wilks -- Member at Large

Nicole Knapp-Weber -- Teacher Representative

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 develop critical reasoning skills, and promoting a consciousness that is 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 first incorporated as an LLC by Nicole Knapp-Weber in June 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 also visited Three Creeks Conservation Area, Rockbridge State Park, Pinnacles, and local city parks. 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. In the 2020-2021 school year, 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 added a kindergarten and a 6th grade, with the goal of becoming a K-8 by the 2024 - 2025 school year. We have added a reading specialist, middle school math teacher, kindergarten teacher, assistant kindergarten teacher, Spanish teacher, and woodworking teacher. We now have a full-time Head of School and full-time administrative assistant. Our school continues to grow.

In the 2023-2024 school year, we add another full-time teacher for 5th grade and add a 7th grade as the plan continues for our complete middle school.

Non-Discrimination Policy

City Garden School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. We do not discriminate based on religion, national origin, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical disability in our programs and activities or in our hiring, admissions, financial aid, or scholarship practices and policies.