On the outskirts of Nairobi, hidden away in a sylvan corner of the Brackenhurst campus in Tigoni, Kenya, there was a shed. Behind its dark and splintered walls lay all sorts of tools used to cut grass, plough dirt, and tame trees. As Brackenhurst changed hands through the decades, from colonists to missionaries to expats, this dormant and lonely corner was, unbeknownst to all, the seed for a one-of-a-kind blossom: Woodland Star School.
Just down a big hill from the shed, a woman named Amy lived with her husband and three children. Though she lived in such a beautiful green place, every week she and her children drove down to Nairobi to stay in a dusty apartment next to a giant school. Amy was a teacher, and her children needed a place where they could learn.
Having taught for many years in different schools in the United States and in Nairobi, Kenya, Amy saw that there was a void in the education most children receive. She had sadly watched as the passions of some of her former students slowly disappeared through the years. Day after day, week after week, month after month, Amy’s own children seemed to wilt under the weight of conformity, a missing sense of belonging, and a lack of people who cared to listen to them.
Amy knew that it was time for change, so she decided to start a school where students would have a safe-haven to see, to think, and to become. She saw the urgent need for a place where children could metamorphosize into their brightest potentials, exploring and expressing identity without limitations. A few other people, including another teacher named Mira, also had a dream about this kind of school. Together, they set out to actualize their idea.
And so the rusty tools were pulled out of the shed. Groundskeepers, electricians, and carpenters knocked down musty walls, polished muddy floors, and made windows materialize to illuminate the dark rooms. The combined efforts of the visionary team were like rain seeping down to awaken a long-buried seed. In August 2011, with seventeen students, Woodland Star unfurled its first leaves. The corner that housed the rusty tools for several tides of foreigners began to breathe on its own. Children who would plant trees replaced the machines that cut them down.
Since then, there have been crests and valleys. Like any fledgling learning how to fly, the initial stages of the school were challenging. However, Woodland Star kept going. A magnet catalyzing the love of learning, it drew in a community who unified around it. The rays from this growing community warmed the little plant, always sustaining it when the sky seemed overcast. New teachers and families found the school, each and every person bringing his or her own vibrancy.
Woodland Star School is a seed for a rare blossom that appears only a few times in a single lifetime. It is unique, offering something special to all those in Nairobi. Conceptualized by one woman, its existence was detected. Guided by a precious handful, it was unearthed as possible. And supported by a forest of individuals, it took roots and grew wings.
As it continues to grow, it stays connected. It has members and partners across the globe, all of who take seeds of Woodland Star with them. Our story continues to evolve, climbing out of a forgotten corner and into a radiant horizon. We invite you to take a part of the Woodland Star story with you, to add yourself in it, and to actualize your own journey of growth.