Use this link for Rise Richardson's talk on
Spirituality and Education

In January of 2010 the director of the Village School gave a talk in Italy on Spirituality and Education.

Use this link to download a transcript of that talk.
(Word .doc)

Read a letter from a Village School Parent

The Village School
Royalston, MA

The school’s mission is to create an educational model for children in rural areas, based on the principle that a direct connection to nature can be a lifeline for children, connecting them to their essential selves and awakening a sense of meaning in their lives. Much of the educational philosophy is based on the work of J. G. Bennett, Elizabeth Bennett, Pierre Elliot, G. I. Gurdjieff, Irmis Popoff, Paul Anderson, Mrs. Stavely, Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner and others. The school developed its own philosophy and curriculum in response to the needs of children in this time and place. For a full look at the school visit

Located in Royalston, Massachusetts, the school was founded in 1989 by students of J. G. Bennett, and Pierre Elliot, consisting of local parents, scientists, artists, farmers and educators committed to serving rural north central Massachusetts and the Monadnock region of southern New Hampshire. The school’s curriculum focuses on hands-on, in-depth learning.

What’s happening at the Village School

Classes started on Wednesday September 5, 2012.  At this time of year, the children are met with opportunities to explore the garden, and find and harvest fresh vegetables. 
It’s field trip time!  We are taking advantage of the glorious weather.  Classes are visiting local gardens, Sweetwater Farm in Petersham, Red Apple Farm, the Farm School, and hiking to Lawrence Brook.  Science classes are taking place outside, with everyone investigating the local flora and fauna.

This year, grades 2-3 studies Colonial American culture, and the 4-6 class is studying Ancient Greece.  Both classes immerse themselves in stories, history, art, music and crafts related to their themes.  There will be some special museum trips this year.

After-school Program for Royalston children

For those looking for after-school care, the Village School offers a superb program from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m. on school days.  Children can take the RCS school bus and get dropped off at the Village School on the common.  The cost is around $7 an hour and children can stay for any portion of the time.  There is homework help, supervised outdoor play, and lots of arts and crafts, (children learn knitting!) run by Royalston resident, Lynn Anair.  To sign up, call the school at 249-3505.

After-school Music Programs at the Village School – for Royalston students

Jocelyn Langer, Village School music teacher, offers private music lessons, group lessons and ensembles at the Village School, after school on Mondays and Tuesdays this year, from 3:15 to 5:00 p.m. Students can learn a new instrument and/or work on improving skills.  Kids love making music with Jocelyn.  Jocelyn is teaching flute, recorder and guitar.  Half-hour private lessons are $18.   All group lessons & ensembles are $12 per session.  Call or email Jocelyn for more information: 978-724-3287 or

Dean’s Beans Coffee

You can get yours delivered, fresh, once a month to the Village School, whole beans or ground.  Find the order form at and order online- it’s easy!  You pick up the coffee in the Village School hallway.

Village School 20th Anniversary Updates

by Rise Richardson, Village School Director

This year is our twentieth anniversary. Hurrah!! We have come a long way from starting as a small preschool with five children in September 1989. We could not have come so far without you and your commitment to the school, and we thank you.

Sustainability and Site Work for the New Building

With a focus on collaborating with the local community and incorporating sustainable practices, local contractors and organizations have been involved with the project. While the site was being cleared, the tops of trees were chipped on the site and taken to Mount Wachusett Community College to be used as fuel in their biomass heating system. The stumps were ground up and used as a wetland barrier. Specimen trees were saved wherever possible and a buffer of trees was maintained along the road. Soils were cleared and augmented to enhance drainage. A Public Water Supply well was installed and approved, and the building site is fully prepared.

Lessons from the Land

In keeping with the Village School's philosophy of using nature as a classroom, the site challenges were turned to an advantage. Surface run-off is now channeled to a large rain garden/catchment pool and a second, smaller rain garden that will attract wildlife throughout much of the year. The large boulders that were removed from the building site were integrated into the larger rain garden. The commitment has also been reflected in the final selection of low-VOC paints and adhesives, recycled content flooring, insulation levels that exceed code requirement, durable and renewable siding and high efficiency heating systems. Each classroom has daylighting from windows on at least two walls and the artificial lighting is highly energy efficient. Total energy consumption is projected to be half that of a typical school. The roofs are oriented for optimum photovoltaic capture and can be easily retrofitted with panels.

Selected trees were harvested for on-site milling, producing oak and pine lumber that will be used in the finished building. Michael Idoine, of Quist Road Lumber in Wendell, came out for a full week, set up a large portable sawmill, and milled logs every day, with help from lots of volunteers. Village School students attended a milling demonstration and a forestry lesson. Stefan Maier, cabinet maker, Joe Zorzin, certified forester, Cathy Szal, Village School Science Director, and Jim MacPhee, architectural project manager, took turns in this event, teaching from their fields of expertise. Watching a tree turn into boards is striking for children-like harvesting carrots in the garden-giving them a great appreciation for everyday wood products. The beautiful pine and oak boards, some 18" wide, are drying under cover at Camp Caravan.

The Village School students visit the Camp Caravan site regularly for pond and vernal pool studies, wildlife studies and nature hikes. It is already a home away from home.

New School Building Updates

Black River Architects has completed the drawings and specifications for all components of the project, including utilities, site work, building envelope and finishes, heating, ventilation, electrical, plumbing and life safety systems. The project received approval from the Royalston Planning Board and Conservation Commission and we are ready to begin construction.

Financing the New School Building-Capital Campaign

The Village School has raised a total of $624,210, a major accomplishment for a small independent elementary school with no alumni beyond college. Over $400,000 has been expended on site work, architect, engineers, plans, and fundraising. So far, the school has declined bank financing, because we would not be able to service the debt load without significantly raising tuition, and this would deprive local children of an affordable independent education. The campaign continues to work to attract major donors before going public.