The mission of the South Mountain Nature School is to provide children the guidance and resources to play and learn in the South Mountain Reservation with other children while experiencing the wonders and beauty of the natural world.
SMNS's Nature Immersion curriculum is defined as “free time in nature, resulting in an intimate, deep and personal connection to the natural world.” Our classes promote social and emotional development, teach compassion, gentleness and sensitivity for each other and the natural world and empower children to do things for themselves.
Founder and lead teacher, Mary Clair Sonneman, is a former high school English teacher with a background and keen interest in progressive education. She has a passion for the natural world and loves to play outside.
Mary Clair attended a Forest Kindergarten teaching training program at Cedarsong Nature School on Vashon Island in Washington in July 2016, earning her Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten Teacher Certification. Read more about this wonderful school here. She has a BA in English from Boston University and a teaching credential from San Francisco State University.
Mary Clair came to learn about Forest Schools through her older daughter who is now 6. When her daughter was having difficulties with the transition to preschool, she reached out to a friend in Seattle who explained the benefits of Forest School. After that talk, Mary Clair organized weekly get-togethers with friends in the forest. Three years later, South Mountain Nature School was born.
***South Mountain Nature School is hiring and is interested in collaboration opportunities. Please reach out!***