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A heart carved into a tree
"WHY Painted Oak?"
                          written by Nicole Langdo

As the Founding Director of PONS, I get asked this question a lot!  

"Why did you start the school?" "Why the name?" "Why nature-based?"


                   The answer is quite simple: TO SAVE CHILDHOOD!

It has been suggested that our children could be considered the next endangered species (NaturePlay: Take Childhood Back, 2016.) And quite frankly, I do believe this to be true. 

Over the course of two decades as an educator and a mother of two teenagers, I have observed a palpable evolution in our schools. I have taught all over the country - in private schools, public schools, in preschools, and at the elementary and middle school levels. As my career began, I was blessed with open-minded administrators, who were supportive of my progressive ways - slippers inside the classroom, doing away with nightly homework, use of community tables instead of desks. 

As time went on, things changed, and so did the administration. No longer was I allowed to teach children to read through song and movement. No longer was I allowed to teach subject matter in a project-based way. I had to "stick to the script," "keep up with the workbook pages," and maintain the status quo. And as any of the PONS teachers will tell you, "status quo" is not in my vocabulary!


So, gathering inspiration from my son's first preschool experience (I can still smell the muffins baking in the kitchen at morning drop-off,) my own childhood (thrust outside with my siblings no matter the weather by our ever-so-wise mother,) and this 'new' approach I stumbled upon called, "Reggio," (which resonated with how I had just always taught and set up my classrooms,) Painted Oak was born.  

It is my sincere hope that what we have created resonates with your family values and your hopes and dreams for your child(ren.) If these include independence, self-reliance, empathy, risk-taking, resilience, directing their own learning, and being part of a "tribe," then I encourage you to explore our school deeper.


Oakers play. Oakers hike. Long distances. Over fields, and roots, and rocks.

Oakers care for their environment and all of the living things in it. Oakers love worms.

Oakers learn the 'proper' way to climb trees and measure how far puddles spray. 

Oakers drink tea. Oakers listen to the wind. 

Oakers see magic everyday. We believe in gnomes.

We take childhood seriously. 

And as for the name, it is the serendipitous blend of art and nature that we hope captures the attention of "our people," both big and little.

Nicole Langdo, Founding Director of Painted Oak Nature School
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