The name Wauhatchie is a Cherokee word that can be defined as “Great Wolf” or “ Beautiful Mountain and Valley.” The Lookout Valley community in which our main campus resides is rich in history and lore. Like most of this area of Tennessee, Lookout Valley has roots within the Native American culture. In fact, one of the first names of this community was Wauhatchie, named in honor of the Cherokee Chieftain, Chief Skyuka Wauhatchie Glass. (From The History of the Lookout Valley Community by Richard Alexander McKeel).
Wauhatchie School Objectives
Provide young children the time, space and play to develop their fullest potential
Provide opportunities for all activities to be child-initiated and child-led, with adults acting as facilitators
Provide individual attention with a 1:5 teacher to child ratio for ages 4-6 and 1:12 teacher to child ratio for ages 7-12
Build children’s on-going relationship with the land, to one another, and to themselves
Provide opportunities to work collaboratively to create, problem solve, support one another, dream of a bigger and better world
Encourage healthy habits and lifestyles
Facilitate children’s risk-taking, made as safe as is reasonably possible
Increase motivation, self-esteem and concentration
Develop respect for the natural world and also respect for its dangers
Stimulate children’s innate curiosity by being close to nature
Encourage family involvement in nature-related learning on site and at their homes
History of Wauhatchie School
The Lookout Valley community is rich in history and lore. Like most of this area of Tennessee , Lookout Valley has roots within the Native American culture. In fact, one of the first names of this community was Wauhatchie, named in honor of the Cherokee Chieftain, Chief Skyuka Wauhatchie Glass. The name Wauhatchie is a Cherokee word that can be defined as “Great Wolf” or “ Beautiful Mountain and Valley.” (From The History of the Lookout Valley Community by Richard Alexander McKeel)
In 1978, William and Esperanza Rowell purchased a 60-plus-acre estate in Lookout Valley called Lookout Lake Farm and turned it into a family homestead for themselves and their four children. Diana Meadows, the Rowell’s youngest daughter developed her childcare business there, Learning Center at Lookout Lake, and over a period of several years Diana provided a healthy and holistic learning experience for dozens of young children.
In the fall of 2014 Diana became acquainted with Dr. Jean Lomino, whose grandson attended the Learning Center at Lookout Lake. Jean had just retired as Executive Director of Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center and had begun her own business as an outdoor education consultant. They immediately discovered that they shared the same philosophy of education and a passion for connecting children with the natural world. Jean had long been interested in the European Forest Kindergarten movement and saw at LCLL a perfect location for starting such a program in Chattanooga. Diana embraced the vision and by December 7 their new board approved the school proposal and its new name.
In February 2015 Jean attended Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training at Cedarsong Nature School, in Washington, one of the first Forest Kindergarten programs in the United States. Wauhatchie Forest Kindergarten classes began in September 2015 with an enrollment of 12. Over the next two years the school continued to grow. Jean began exploring opportunities to expand to additional sites and met with Mark McKnight, the new president of Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center. They agreed that the school’s mission would extend and enhance Reflection Riding’s efforts to promote nature education throughout the region. Wauhatchie School opened their new school on Reflection Riding’s property in the fall of 2018 with 70 children enrolled in Forest Kindergarten and Forest Homeschool.
Forest School Teacher training was offered at Wauhatchie School from the first year of operation and since that time over 80 teachers from throughout the US and abroad have completed training with Jean, including seven teachers from China and one from Cape Town South Africa. Wauhatchie School is excited to be a part of this global movement!