(From a November 5, 1997 article)


When several Topanga mothers got together to start a school, many stood back to watch and see if it could be done. Three years later, Sage Mountain School, Topanga's only progressive, parent - run elementary school, is flourishing! Sage Mountain has grown from a school of three kindergarten age children to a mixed-age classroom of thirteen children, two teachers and a support staff of music, dance and art teachers. In fact, the school has out-grown its current location (a converted garage at the edge of Topanga State Park) and is now actively seeking a new home.

The original founders of Sage Mountain School were impassioned with a concept that learning should come from direct experience and that immersion in nature and the arts is how children really thrive. They felt that each chilies natural creativity and individuality should be honored and that issues of the heart are equally as important as scholastic achievement when it comes to nurturing a child's development. A primary goal of the school, as stated in the mission statement, is to foster a reverence for nature, for others and for life. As such, storytelling, singing, watercolor painting and hiking are an equally important part of the school day as the "academic" lessons in reading, writing and math. As a vibrant and committed community, Sage Mountain families celebrate together often with stories, singing, dancing and feasting as well as camping trips and excursions. These gatherings foster a sense of gratitude, unity and cooperation, all deeply held values at Sage Mountain School.

While the rewards of creating and nourishing a school have been great, they have also met many challenges along the way. The most recent challenge is finding a beautiful, workable space for the growing school. Claudia Udy, one of the founders said, "We are facing this challenge as we always have, with faith and optimism. It's almost as if the dreams that made Sage Mountain have taken on a life of their own. All we need is someone out there who has the space...it could be an old barn...a studio... someone who knows how important it is for children to be learning in joy and to be close to nature...someone who understands our dreams."

As a non-profit institution (501c3 pending) with a visionary approach to education, Sage Mountain is seeking, as one possible option, to establish an alliance with another similarly-oriented organization for a mutually beneficial space-sharing arrangement. Space sharing is a viable option because as a school they do not occupy the space on weekends and evenings. Leasing or buying a plot of land to put a small building on is also an avenue the school is exploring and as a landowner leasing to a school would provide a tax benefit.

Most people live in Topanga because they want to be near nature and away from the mainstream values of what city or suburban life offer. The canyon attracts artists, nature lovers, scholars, progressive thinkers and visionaries. Sage Mountain's goals and values are aligned with this unique ethos of Topanga. Let's all lend our support in finding a new space for this vital alternative in our community. Any ideas or suggestions regarding space for lease, or information about the school call 456-0090.

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