When educator Donna Watson opened Healthy Earth Bilingual Nursery School 25 years ago, her focus on environmental stewardship, old fashioned learning techniques and play-based critical thinking was ahead of her time.
“I really felt that kids were capable of learning so much more at a very early age,” said Watson. “I wanted to really get the environmental aspect going …. 25 years ago, I can tell you, it wasn’t that popular.”
But now, many of the techniques and philosophies Watson champions have been adopted by the traditional educational community, and Watson’s kindergarten school at 2206 Queen St. E. has grown steadily over the decades.
Highlights from the last 25 years include the work Watson has done with the Free the Children foundation (now Me to We), travelling to Kenya and India to see the work of the foundation and “bring that teaching back,” she said.
The school has gone from a staff of two with programming a couple of days a week to a full-fledged advanced kindergarten program, a music and yoga program, a nature-based art program, and a burgeoning after-school program.
“We have a dynamic staff,” she said. “You really have to love what you do completely.”
On the school’s anniversary, Watson wants to thank the community.
“Without the support of the community, a school such as this, with all of its uniqueness, would not exist,” she said. “It’s important to support your local businesses. The community should be proud.”