This month we’re excited to feature a brand new member whose own love for the outdoors translates naturally into her work and the lives of young learners. Liz Kasitz is the director of The Nature School at LaFontaine Early Learning Center located in Richmond, Kentucky. She is new to the KAEE community but excited to learn more about all the wonderful EE happening across our state. Read on for more from Liz, in her own words…
Guest post by new KAEE member Liz Kasitz, Director of The Nature School at LaFontaine
Hello everyone! My name is Liz Kasitz and I am the director at The Nature School at LaFontaine Early Learning Center. The LaFontaine Early Learning Centers in Richmond were founded in 2015. We recently opened The Nature School with the same mission and principles, just a little bit of a different approach to learning.
Our mission statement is “to create positive experiences for early learners while fostering their independence in a safe and transparent environment.”
We believe that if you create these experiences for students and families starting at a young age you will create the foundation for an amazing educational experience as they get older. The Nature School gives us a unique opportunity to not only set the foundation for education but to foster a love for the outdoors and provide experiences that many would not otherwise experience.
I am a person who follows the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy on most projects, so I get inspired any time I see students or teachers get excited about this style of learning.
Right now my most inspiring project is our gardens. We're working with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for a sizable wildflower field. We are also working with Sustainable Berea and students in Madison Central High School’s Agriculture Department to get vegetables, herbs, and berries started.
We have started seeds inside and they are really taking off! I cannot wait to get them outside and watch students as they see them grow. We are hoping to get enough yield to make simple dishes for students to try new things and even be able to take some crops to contribute to dishes at home. I can picture the pride that those little faces will show when they get to take home something like herbs, tomatoes, and a sauce recipe to work with their families to use their yields. This makes me so, so happy. My goal at The Nature School is for every student to leave our school when they move on to kindergarten not only ready for school but with a love for the outdoors. My daughter goes to our school, and she was made for this. She says she wants to be an animal rescuer when she grows up and even as a baby has always been happiest outdoors. I spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and playing outside as a kid so it warms my heart to see her loving it outside and has even brought that old love for the outdoors back out in me. Not all of our students are like her, though. Some are very hesitant at first to get involved in the dirty play or get comfortable with the environment.
I want every student to leave having found the parts of nature that they love. Maybe it’s animals, maybe it’s flower gardening, maybe it’s vegetable or fruit gardens, maybe they just like to be outside breathing the fresh air.
They don’t have to like everything about the outdoors but if they just love at least one part of it I will feel like we accomplished our goal at The Nature School.
I look forward to getting to know the members of KAEE and learning from everyone’s experiences!