Our Vision and Principles
Asheville Forest School is a community rooted in care and respect for children, for the Earth and all Her inhabitants, and for each other. We provide nature-based education that supports the healthy development of the whole child—body, mind and spirit–and helps them realize their full potential to become compassionate stewards of the Earth in the context of a mutually supportive community of families and staff.
Our principles and commitments
We recognize abundant free play time in nature as a birthright of every child, and necessary for the healthy development of the young child. We believe that the health of our children and our world depend on children receiving this birthright.
We are committed to providing the highest quality nature-based education for young children, rooted on the “forest kindergarten” (in German “Waldkindergarten”) movement in Europe.
We are committed to providing this for all children in the Asheville area whose families want this for their child, and we are committed to creating a cultural shift that supports the young child’s relationship with the natural world.
What we offer
We offer a four-hour Waldkindergarten (forest kindergarten) program five days a week, Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 1:30pm. We generally follow the Buncombe County Schools schedule, including for holidays and breaks, though as often as possible we are open in all weather, including some days when Buncombe County cancels school for weather.
Age and Physical Requirements
Children ages three to six may apply. They must be able to follow directions reliably and respect others. Children must be at least partly proficient with handling their toileting. They must be able to notice when they need to go to the bathroom and communicate that. We have a private, enclosed area for the children to use the restroom and will not be interrupted by other children.
Appropriate clothing for Forest Kindergarten is CRITICAL for the children’s comfort and safety and the success of the program. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." Here are some guidelines for proper cold-weather dress.
Paul Beich, Founder and Director
Paul is passionate about creating a world that is peaceful, abundant, healthy, harmonious, equitable and safe for all people, and for all beings. In early 2015, Paul learned about forest kindergarten and immediately recognized that this is what children need, and what the Earth needs. He committed to founding a forest kindergarten in Asheville, and the result is Asheville Forest School.
He earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Florida State University and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Guidance Counseling from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Throughout his adult life he has lived his mission through a variety of teaching and service-oriented work.
Paul is committed to the highest quality of nature-based education for young children. In August 2015, Paul attended the Level 1 Foundation Course of the Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers. This Academy offers the most in-depth training available for forest kindergarten teachers in the United States. Paul returned to the Academy in August 2016 for the Level 2 Metamorphic Course. He is currently living, learning and working for a few months at a peace research center in Portugal called Tamera (www.tamera.org).
Lynn Coalson - Mentor
Lynn Colson, founder of the first Forest kindergarten in Florida, is proud to be a part of the Asheville Forest School team. She brings to us her love of nature, gift of Storytelling and over 30 years of teaching experience, and will provide essential mentoring and support for our teaching staff.
For the last 10 years Lynn has been the director and Lead Teacher at the Playgarden, a Waldorf-inspired preschool in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. She also enjoys her work as a Mentor teacher for Lifeways of North America. Forest kindergarten is her passion as she calls it a dream come true. Lynn's mission is to connect young children and their families with nature in a positive and nurturing way.
Becca Lane - Mentor
Becca Lane, Director and Lead teacher at The Little Round Schoolhouse in Asheville, NC believes in the magic of childhood and works to create an environment that meets the children physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She loves sharing her love for the world around her with those in her care and feels that the best gift to share with the children is the joy of learning. She received her undergraduate degree from Furman University in 2002 and then pursued her teacher licensure several years later at University of North Carolina, Asheville. After working on her teacher licensure, Becca discovered Waldorf Education. Becca serves as a mentor in the Lifeways North America, an early childhood certification program in the Waldorf tradition. Becca has been a strong supporter of Paul, forest kindergarten and Asheville Forest School since 2016. We are glad to have her support and expertise in for our school.
Steve Torma - Friend and Consultant to our School
For over thirty years, Steve Torma has gently guided our culture toward cooperation and regeneration. He is the former President of Earthaven Ecovillage, where he continues to live his passion for community and sustainability. He co-founded The REAL Center in 2007 and is trained in Nonviolent Communication, Radical Honesty, Body Electric, Cuddle Party, Restorative Circles, Permaculture, and Creation Spirituality. Through his compassionate presence and guidance, Steve has helped countless people to find healing, direction, and meaning in their lives.
Steve believes deeply in Forest School and has been an invaluable support to Paul and the school since the earliest days of its formation. Though Steve is constantly busy teaching Nonviolent Communication and related things to as many people as he can, he is willing to offer his gifts to our forest school community as desired and as he has availability.
Shown Nichols, Bookkeeper
Shown is an enthusiastic supporter of forest school and has over 25 years of bookkeeping experience, including handling the books for Asheville Forest School starting in December 2017. Her booking company is Absolute Bookkeeping.