What is Woodsong’s story?

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When have you felt most alive…. 

during a beautiful sunset, a walk on the beach or while climbing a tree? Whether hiking in the mountains, gazing at the stars, sitting at the base of a waterfall, or running through an open field- stories, moments, and memories like these conjure within us a deep sense of what it means to be a part of creation and to be fully human. 

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Bonnie Cretton, the founder and director of Woodsong Forest School, has savored experiences like these throughout her life. She has always felt a deep connection and love for the natural world. As a child, she was outside as much as possible, climbing trees, splashing in creeks and building forts in the woods. Nature has always been a place of refuge and inspiration for her.

After seeing her own children experience this same vitality and wonder outdoors, Bonnie began to question why we take children out of the richness of the natural world for early learning programs.  As a professional educator, she started to research different approaches to early childhood education. She found that the forest school model has been profoundly and positively impactful for children all over the world. Multiple sources of published research describe the key developmental growth that takes place when young children have the freedom to explore, play, and discover in nature on a regular basis. These same experiences and skills acquired, cannot be replicated in an indoor setting. After learning this, Bonnie knew she had to start a nature-immersion preschool like Woodsong, in the Cleveland community. 

Woodsong Forest School is a bringing together of Bonnie’s greatest passions: nature, education, and the building of a more compassionate and just world.   It is her hope that when children leave Woodsong, the planted and cultivated seeds of forest school will flourish within them. These seeds will grow throughout each student's life to produce a deep love for learning, immense creativity, an adventurous spirit, as well as a kind and compassionate relationship with all living beings. 

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View the Woodsong Team page and our bios:

All photography provided by Sara Renee Clark