In 2007, Shanah Ahmadi enrolled in an early childhood and human development training (Lifeways of North America). Shanah found the principles of the Lifeways approach to resonate strongly with her own observations and instincts of the children’s needs in that:
• Childcare programs can closely resemble a warm family setting.
• Children benefit from forming strong bonds with consistent caregivers, rather than caregivers changing sporadically.
• Children are best prepared for formal schooling by having the magic of childhood left intact, their sense of wonder stimulated, and their capacity for creative play fully realized.
In January of 2010, Shanah opened an in-home childcare facility under the name The Purple House. The Purple House sought to provide an alternative to the institutional environment of many childcare facilities. The goal was to create a comforting atmosphere providing many natural opportunities for learning. Some of the basic tenets included daily interaction with the natural world, meals prepared with whole organic foods, and the inclusion of the children in the daily tasks of gardening, meal preparation, and care for their learning space.
In September of 2010, a Kindergarten building was added to The Purple House property. The curriculum of the Kindergarten continued to be based on our founding values and naturalistic approach. The first year of the Kindergarten was very successful and, again, it became apparent that another expansion would be necessary in order to meet the needs of the greater community.
In February 2011, Shanah, helped by many of the school children’s parents and community members, incorporated the school into a non-profit organization (Rose Rock School Foundation). A board of enthusiastic parents and teachers was formed to envision the next phase of the school and assist with outreach and fundraising. In the fall of 2011, we hired Frances Whalen, who completed her Lifeways training the following summer. She moved to a full-time position shortly after graduating from the Lifeways program, and now works as kindergarten assistant and cook.
Then in January 2012, Rose Rock School purchased a large house on four acres of land in the center of Norman (1515 West Main Street). In the meantime, our organization has earned over $24,000 for our expansion project. Parents and Board members have volunteered at fundraising events (art auctions, yard sales, and workshops), and we have directed 10% of our monthly income (tuition) into the expansion fund. The next step is to bring the house into DHS and City building code compliance. Our ongoing goal is find new donors to match the $24,000 that we have raised so far. When the new home is rezoned accordingly, we will begin the process of growing our school to better accomodate the needs of our community.