Inspired experience based college preparatory education for creative and intellectually curious students
Early childhood through twelfth grade

Nature has always been an integral part of my life. As a wee child, my mother brought me to Drumlin Farm, where I watched the foxes and the wild birds with the rapt attention only a three-year-old can manage. I grew up hiking through the woods owned by the water company. My dog loved to chase the deer there, despite the signs forbidding pets. A cozy white blanket of snow fell every winter, the cardinals and blue jays bright against it. I have dear memories of a grumpy possum I spied several times in my backyard, its storm gray fur and bare, wrinkled face.

When I lived in Connecticut, I was an avid observer of nature. That changed after I moved to California. I knew next to nothing about the local wildlife, only that there were lizards instead of chipmunks on my front steps, and my dog wasn’t interested in them. The cawing birds in my yard now had no name; the weather never changed.

I became more than a passive beholder when I started to volunteer at the Audubon Society. At Debs Park, we work to preserve and encourage our endemic flora. In the nursery, black chestnuts hide from the squirrels and California buckwheat struggles through the topsoil. Saturday mornings, I report to the supervisor for the day’s agenda. We plant, pot, transfer, mist, water, fertilize, register, and weed the plants until they, at age two, are strong enough to survive outside the nursery. On the sun-soaked hills, we dig holes and build berms to catch water. I used to go with friends; we’d chatter and joke as we replanted mint and washed pots. Now only I go, but that’s alright. Nothing compares to the smell of black sage baking in the morning heat.

Volunteering at Debs Park has taught me the delicacy of LA’s chaparral biome. When it’s 9:30 on a Saturday morning and I wish I were back in bed instead of digging through rocky soil, it’s hard to see where all the efforts are leading. But when I step back, I see that the plants fostered at the park provide the backbone of the ecosystem. Nature has always surrounded me, from Walden Pond to Sperry Woods. But only since coming to LA have I given back to it, protected her seedlings and nurtured her budding cacti, fostering generations to come. Insects, shrews, and nuthatches rely on our efforts. Even a bobcat moved in. Like me, he’s found a home at Debs Park among the island snapdragons.

Margaret C.
11th Grade

It seems slightly obvious to say something about how important the concept of “community” is at a school. School, ideally, is a series of various interacting communities: parent, teacher, class, campus. Nothing groundbreaking here. But, see, we’re not talking just school, we’re talking Waverly. And as you might have experienced in your time here, we’re a little…different. I can’t even say why, exactly. It’s just there, that feeling.

OK, backtrack. I’m a yoga teacher, a meditation teacher, a tiny entrepreneur whose work is nothing if not based on gathering, individuals coming together to create a collective. The Sanskrit word sangha is resonant for me, if that doesn’t make me sound too hippie 3.0. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk and activist, defines sangha as a “beloved community.”

Beloved. That’s the kicker. We can have communities all we want, but beloved? Boom.

Part of my job, which in the classic Waverly Way defies any sort of definition, is coming to the elementary school at what feels like the crack of dawn to hang out with the early students. I tend to perch atop the dome on the playground for vantage point reasons, and I get to see all kinds of morning feels:  children bursting through the gate with uncontained energy, or droopy and sleepy-bodied, or already deep into a book, or gripping an adult hand, a little vulnerable. Always I see eyes, widening, searching, reaching out for someone or something familiar.

Waverly is a small shop. Familiar is readily available to anyone at any time. Heidi, famously, knows the name of each and every student (or…seems to. In my sixteen years here I have never once witnessed anything different). I can be in the bathroom stall and hear “HI MEG!” because everyone knows my shoes.  The same kids climb up the dome to sit with me in the morning and we have our own special language. Eyes meet. Greetings exchanged. Hands held. Jokes told. Games played. Buckets filled.

The thing about the morning is the new thing. The start of something. Fresh take. Infinite opportunity. Inhale exhale. Wide open heart. Children looking at, seeking out others in their friend group, class, community, for those few moments of undefined, beloved togetherness. We know each other. We talk and we listen. We might stay quiet. We keep each other safe. From my perch, my own morning start gaze, that tiny time before the bell rings, that vital time, the rise of the day’s sangha, is the thing. The Waverly thing.

Meg Bradbury
Assistant to the Head of School and other stuff

 

 

School Touring: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

January 10, 2019

When I came to Waverly for the first time five years ago, it was the last prospective school on my long tour list. I didn’t know what to call what I was looking for exactly at these highly varied campuses for my two daughters, so I toured as many schools as I could. It was […]

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Not Your Average Holiday Show

December 18, 2018

For parents who remember participating in their own school holiday shows (which consisted of the class standing in a line, wearing Santa hats and singing a Christmas song), the Waverly holiday show will be an especially wonderful surprise. The original show was held at the little theater at Farnsworth Park. Each teacher put together their […]

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To All The Toys I’ve Ever Loved Before

December 6, 2018

I have loved quite a few toys in my life. A favorite recurring dream takes me back to my childhood home to find an entire floor of the house filled to the ceiling with toys and games of every kind. There are dolls and board games and Yo-yos and Hula Hoops, Easy-Bake Ovens and Thingmakers, […]

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Juniors Give Thanks

November 16, 2018

Next week is Thanksgiving and I have a story to share. Every Wednesday the junior class and I gather together for Wellness. Junior Wellness is centered around a discussion of what it is they believe, and some Waverly faculty and staff come in to share their own beliefs in an essay of 500 words or […]

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I Believe in the Gift of Failure

October 26, 2018

As a science educator, I begin each year by giving my students explicit permission to fail, and explaining to them that failure is part of the game in science. As sci-fi author Isaac Asimov wrote, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but rather, ‘hmm… […]

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Waverly Alumna Moves Food Forward

October 12, 2018

Dory Bennett, Class of 2012, visited First Friday on October 5 to introduce parents to Food Forward, the non-profit organization where she now works. During Dory’s presentation we learned that Food Forward fights hunger and prevents food waste by harvesting fresh produce from backyard fruit trees and orchards and gathering donations from farmers markets and […]

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We Shall Overcome

October 5, 2018

What I love most about my role here at Waverly is having the opportunity to teach on all three campuses. Mornings with thoughtful ninth graders give way to afternoons with inquisitive elementary school students, and on Fridays after spending time with middle school students I have the chance to participate in All School Meeting. (And […]

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Reading as Social Justice

September 28, 2018

In the first weeks of school, I like to wander. Especially in the early weeks of classes, I am eager to learn about the students and the plans Waverly teachers have for them.  It is also exciting to see the individual arrangement of materials and the orientation of each classroom.  This year, I noticed a […]

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