Twenty-Eight Years of Country Day Little School

Country Day first started as Greenmeadow Little School in 1984. The inception of the school began as I was sitting with Christine Shambora, a parent of one of my students at the Greenmeadow pool. I was talking of my dream to one day open a school. Christine said, "Let’s do it!" We invited Karen Grossman, a special education teacher, to join our endeavor. We opened the school at the Greenmeadow Community Center that fall, as an eclectic preschool encompassing Montessori education along with developmentally appropriate curricula. Christine and Karen were involved with the school for the first few years contributing much, and strengthening the business.


In 1987, after extensive research, heel digging, and self-resistance, I began to bring Waldorf education into the curriculum. Self-resistance is the key phrase. I knew in my heart for some time that Waldorf education was what truly met the needs of the young child. I resisted because it called on me to change, to sacrifice what was comfortable, and to question everything about my beliefs and values in the area of education. It forced me to look at whether I was truly meeting the children's needs or only superficially providing for them. It was very unsettling.

Soon after that, a teacher on staff and I were at a conference at the Rudolf Steiner College and I was overcome with anxiety—at which point I decided I had to close the school and take the teacher training. Fortunately, I wasn't quite that impulsive…but it led to weeks of struggling, feeling guilty about how many children I'd failed when I thought I was serving them. It was a very difficult time, but out of the willingness to look at the struggle and embrace the discomfort, I found the strength to make a change and implement Waldorf education in the school.

The staff was wonderful, though, in a sense, it was the blind leading the blind. We got all the materials, presented them to the children, and they did nothing with them. The children would look at them, maybe even carry a puppet or two around with them…but the children didn't know what to do with them. For so long the children had played with toys that told them how to play. The children didn't know how to tell a toy what to do! The truth be known, neither did the staff nor I! Once again, we were in crisis: we'd invested a lot, both personally and monetarily in bringing this format to the school and the children didn't seem to like it. But then I began to understand that it was a challenge and perhaps not comfortable for the children, and I was able to turn it around.

We invited my sister, Mary, then a new mom and Waldorf teacher-in-training, to join our staff. Mary took on the task of teaching the staff and I how to play…it was the unfolding we needed. The children began to experience joy and creativity in their play. In truth, they began to "get lost" in their play. It made all of our struggles as a staff worthwhile! Once we started to learn how to play, the children began to play.

Now, over twenty-five years later, the children play and we do what is the true work of the teacher in the classroom—love our children, care for the environment, and model purposeful activity for the young child.

In 1988 we moved the school to a lovely piece of property on Arastradero Road and became the Country Day Little School. During this period of time, the school strengthened in the Waldorf pedagogy and we became a part of the Waldorf Kindergarten Association, working closely with various Waldorf kindergarten teachers in the community.

In 1994, the property was sold to another school and we moved to our present location. The teachers and parents did a wonderful job of creating a home-like environment in the midst of a former school site. Their dedication and love is evident in the warm, loving classrooms the children play in every day. Our back yard feels just like a home garden…more room, but lots of nooks and crannies for cozy play.

Country Day Little School is known in the community for being an exceptional and somewhat unusual school. When professionals come through the school, they often comment about how little conflict there is and how engaged the children and teachers are. When parents come through, they comment on how loving the children are and how focused they are in their play. Both professionals and parents speak to the nurturing home-like environment: small enough so each child is met individually and knows they are loved.

Over the years, I have come to see just how imperative Waldorf education is for young children of today. My goal is to support families in the difficult and joyful work of parenting today by finding a balance between caring for the family and finding time for oneself. By being part of our school, families find support from one another on their parenting journey, creating a rhythmic, calm, home environment for their family.


Peggy Jane Triulzi

Country Day Little School - 3990 Ventura Court, Palo Alto, California - 650-494-8044