Dear Lakeside Friend and Supporter,
I hope that you can come to this Saturday’s Spring Fling Fundraiser as it’s going to be a tremendously fun (and delicious) event! However, I wanted to write to you today to explain why Lakeside School puts on two fundraisers a year – and is dependent on these fundraisers to meet our operating budget.
Accessible to All Families
You already know that at Lakeside School we provide an extraordinary educational experience for children from birth to age nine. We strive to make these opportunities available for all families, including those who cannot afford to pay the actual cost for their child’s education. To make this possible we keep as tight a budget as possible for school expenses, we write a lot of grants and are supported by a few dedicated organizations, and we offer a tiered tuition system that allows families to self choose the tuition level that best fits their family’s income. Sixty-five percent of Lakeside families are only able to pay our lowest level of tuition, and this year we awarded another $17,000 in tuition assistance beyond that lowest level. These families contribute all that they can in funding and volunteer time to the school, contributing whatever skills they can that in turn helps us save money on our budget. However, the only way we can meet our costs for the school are to also reach out to individuals to ask for donations. This partnership makes it possible for families to access Lakeside School’s programs no matter what their income is.
A Growing Student Body and Community
Lakeside School is a magnet for young families looking to live and work in Essex County. Of our current school families, 50% moved to the area with Lakeside School being a leading factor in the decision to move. I am currently talking with five families who are planning to move to the area this summer, again with Lakeside School as a contributing factor. Families who move to the area buy homes, start businesses, employ local people, bring new skills to the area, and contribute to the local communities. Our enrollment for the coming year is steady at 36 school students for next year (not including the 10 Mountain Tots families and the 38 Summer Camp students), with the potential to increase in the coming months. Our newly expanded year-round Sprouts Day Care meets an essential childcare need in Essex County and is nearly full for the 2018-19 summer and school year. Amongst the Waldorf school national community we are known and praised for our forest exploration components in all of our programs.
Why I love Lakeside School
Why am I committing my career, my money, and my energy to Lakeside School? In part, it’s because of my own child who is in his third year of our Farm and Forest Pre-K/Kindergarten program. Finn has thrived in the program and my husband and I feel that Lakeside School is the best school in the country for him. After three years, it’s clear that his days full of creative play and forest exploration were not only fun, but an amazing learning and developmental experience. As a six year old, Finn is now an empathetic leader, a well balanced decision maker, a strong navigator, and has a deep understanding of the sciences – absorbed through hands-on “research” that we call play. He’s also a fine painter, wood worker, sewer, singer, and storyteller, and readily helps with most chores. He’s quite excited about elementary school next year, and we are equally excited for him to enter Kathleen Morse’s mixed age classroom. We are so grateful that we are able to have our child at this magnificent school!
However, my commitment to Lakeside School goes beyond my own child’s experience. I am committed to the administration of this school because I feel like we are attempting – and succeeding- to do something very important for the world. Before Lakeside, I spent the last 15 years of my career working in environmental education and conservation. Yet when I discovered Lakeside School I realized that it is succeeding in connecting children with nature in a way that few other environmental education programs do. Lakeside School’s students understand the natural world, in all of its complexities, at a deep level based on their year-round observations and hands-on interactions. This February, one of our 3 year old Sprouts noted that it “must be time to boil sap” because he smelled the difference as the winter air warmed. Also equally important in the future lives of our students is their ability to work together socially and productively. Our programs emphasize teamwork and developing empathy and community. To me it’s essential that we send our growing children into the world with the values of looking out for each other and the earth. I tell everyone I can about Lakeside School, because I want there to be more schools like ours in the country.
How You Can be Involved
Your support of Lakeside School makes all of this possible. Your contributions help to buy the healthy snacks, pay the electric bills, and pay the salaries of our teachers who work so hard to bring our students an outstanding education. Your contributions make it possible for families who struggle to pay the bills to still provide their child with a care situation that is not just safe and loving, but is enriching and extraordinary. Your support is essential to the whole being of our school.
If you would like to become involved with our school on another level we welcome your interest. We can always use more substitute teachers, more volunteers, and more attendees at our festivals. We want to be your community! Join us Friday May 11 for our May Day Festival, brunch at 10am, performance at 11:30. Follow our Facebook site and our webpage (www.lakesideschoolinessex.org) to stay up to date on our school events and happenings. Write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (518) 963-7385 if you have questions, ideas, or would like a tour.
I hope to see you soon and I send you huge thanks for all of your support of Lakeside School! See you at the Spring Fling this Saturday!
Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm