What are your favorite childhood memories? Can you remember the feeling of accomplishment and wonder when you climbed your first tree? When you close your eyes, do you still feel the cool rush of creek rippling around your toes? The jolt of excitement and apprehension when a crawdad passes by? Do you remember a time before we carried screens around in our pockets and the biggest decision ahead of you was where to dig for worms?
That magical world that so many of us had the good fortune of enjoying as children is still out there, though over time it's slowly been forgotten in favor of technology, organized activities, and pre-kindergarten programs that replace childhood with college prep. When Heather Barger imagined a Montessori-inspired forest school in the Southern Indiana community, it's because she knew she needed to create the school experience she wanted for her own young children.
We believe the natural world provides an exceptional classroom, inspiring wonder, independent learning, creativity, and critical thinking. Our nature and Montessori-based curriculum supports a hands-on, experiential approach that nurtures the development of the whole child. Most importantly, it creates space for children to have a childhood, running, climbing, digging, watching, building, trying, failing, and trying again. Isn't that the very best gift we can give them?
connection to the outdoors
Our goal is to spend hundreds of hours outside every single year. Hundreds of hours of the earth beneath our feet, hands in the mud, asking questions, breathing deeply, following our curiosities, and internalizing the great wonders and gifts of the natural world.
Children are capable, and with guidance and opportunity can grow into skilled contributors. Cooking, gardening, construction, animal care, plant identification, first aid, and survival skills are all integrated in the forest school experience.
When children are engaging in unstructured imaginative play, they are discovering the fine art of socialization: negotiation, compromise, cooperation and teamwork. MFS offers children the opportunity to observe the interconnectedness of all living things and the unique way that teamwork is exemplified as creatures interact in the natural world.
We believe (and research supports) that children learn best when information is contextual. That is why all academics stem from our rich ecological and historical setting and the explorations of the children in the natural world around them.
strong, healthy bodies
When children spend time immersed in nature, they are physically healthier. Studies have shown that playing in nature makes children more physically fit and strengthens their immune systems. In doing so, they can discover their physical capabilities and their boundaries, learn to recognize risk, and learn to keep their balance.
Childhood is a season of life that should be filled with adventure, and the source of that adventure should be the natural world. From climbing rocks and trees to overnight campouts and creek crawls, every day will bring new and exhilarating challenges.
the space to be still
When children are immersed in the natural world, it gives them time to be quiet and still, something that is a rarity in the busyness of our modern lives. This provides the child with the opportunity to reset their internal frenetic pace and experience a deep sense of calm.
place based education
We believe in an immersive learning experience that places children in local landscapes and heritage, using these as the roots from which all learning stems. If a child loves their backyard, their altruism will extend to the furthest reaches of the globe.
Wildflower is an ecosystem of decentralized Montessori micro-schools that support children, teachers, and parents. Wildflower aspires to give all children and families the opportunity to choose high quality, beautiful learning environments as they follow life’s unfolding journey.
Wildflower's aim is to be an experiment in a new learning environment, blurring the boundaries between home and school, between scientists and teachers, between schools and the neighborhoods around them. Wildflower schools are small and teacher-led, with deep parent engagement. At the core of Wildflower are 9 principles that define the approach.
Dedication. Expertise. Passion.
Founder & Elementary Guide
Heather was born and raised in Southern Indiana. She spent her childhood playing in its woods and creeks, and now, as a mom, is so happy for her kids to do the same. Heather has been a Montessori educator since 2011. She has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education, Masters in Education with a Montessori Emphasis, and Montessori credential. She loves traveling and spent a year establishing a new Montessori school in Shanghai, China. When Heather’s not bringing her dream of a Montessori forest school to reality, you can find her on an outdoor adventure with her husband, Zach, and two young children, William and Hazel.
Founder & Primary/Elementary Guide
Kris was born and raised in Kentuckiana. She has many fond memories of running through the woods as a child and finds that being in nature is calming and neutralizing. Kris has been in education since 2004. In her first teaching position, she taught Spanish to preschool through 8th graders and then transitioned to being a Montessori guide in 2016. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Joe, and her two daughters, Estella and Aurora. She is drawn to cooking, reading, hiking, art, and watching sunsets over the Ohio River.
Mary grew up in central Kentucky. While attending the University of Kentucky one of her favorite things to do was explore the Red River Gorge. She moved to Louisville and raised her daughter, Sophia. Sophia is finishing graduate work at UK. Most every weekend Mary and her husband, Nathan, are out hiking wild areas and foraging edible mushrooms. Mary received her bachelors at UK in sociology and later received her Montessori certificate in Early Childhood. She's worked in a Montessori environment since 1997 in both private and public sectors. Peace education and exploring the natural world with children are her passion.
TeNnile grew up in Central Indiana where she and the neighborhood kids went hiking in the creek and played in the woods until the last little bit of light would allow. Her love of nature continues and you can find her growing organic food on her farm with her partner, Brian, and daughter, Nola. TeNnile has been working with children and families for over 20 years. She began teaching in Chicago, working in both parochial and public schools. TeNnile is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist whose practice has focused on supporting children. After moving to Southern Indiana, she become a Montessori guide in 2016, and holds a Montessori credential and Indiana teaching license.
Indiana Master Naturalist
Kirsten is a Kentuckiana native. Her childhood spent playing in the creek and reading in the branches of a giant magnolia tree fostered her love of nature. She has been an educator since earning her Masters of Arts in Teaching in 2003. Kirsten recently became a certified Indiana Master Naturalist and is excited to share what she's learned with the children of The Montessori Field School. She loves hiking, reading, bird watching, and spending time by the ocean with her husband and three children.
Forest Club Guide & Musician
Ethan was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin and lived in central Illinois throughout high school. He moved to Louisville in 2017 and has alternated between teaching and bartending during his time here. He spent two years as a co-teacher with Kris Autry at Community Montessori, where he proved his ability to mentor and ignite enthusiasm for learning in elementary-age children. He's currently the Lead Bartender at Decade restaurant. In his free time he loves to play music with his friends, go to boxing gyms, and play nerdy board games.
To provide children high-quality education that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit through engagement in the natural world.