The Nature School | Seaside

Growing a New Generation of Young Town Planners

Janet Stein, with a 35-year career in education, always dreamed of starting her own school. That passion led her to finally fulfill her goal as she and co-founder Jodie Davis, a 13-year career educator, founded a school beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. What is unique about The Nature School Cooperative is that the outdoor learning experience ensures that students get to explore their surroundings while learning reading, writing and other traditional subjects. And what better place than Walton County.

When the COVID pandemic forced schools to modify their classrooms, Janet and Jodie independently started homeschooling their grandchildren and children. “We didn’t want them to have to go to school sitting six feet apart, unable to socialize,” Janet says. The two women then joined forces and formed The Nature School Cooperative.

A four-day-a-week program for students ages 4 to 10, the Nature School is a homeschool that is in the process of applying to be a private school. “We serve the whole child, teaching beyond the standards to include movement, art, music, dance, creativity and character development. Nature is woven into all that we do,” Janet says.

Students are surrounded by nature at the school, which is located on the wooded canal lots of Point Washington. The six pillars (interdisciplinary/project-based learning, continual progress, multi-age grouping, time in nature, and social, emotional and physical wellness) support the growth of every student.

A special project the students are working on is partially inspired by towns like Seaside, Savannah, Ga., Washington, D.C. and some Roman cities. “We’re a place-based education school,” Janet says. “And we study communities. So the next step was to design our own community. The goal is to design a child-friendly town where kids can get around on their own. At ages 7 to10, kids start to want some independence. We started making maps of where we live — the forests, canals, beaches, etc. We talked about our lives and the importance of nature. Now, they have some great ideas.”

Of the five different groups working on the project, the students will eventually select the best ideas out of each design and add public buildings, homes and commercial spaces.

“I never had the resources before,” Janet says. “But this dream has finally come true. It’s a work of love.”

For more information about The Nature School Cooperative, see

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