The school plans to expand enrollment over three years, including adding another class for 3- and 4-year-olds in the fall of 2019 and a prekindergarten class in the fall of 2020, said Karen Tate, a co-chair for the school's capital campaign.
The summer school program, which starts June 11, has no enrollment status associated with it yet, but "summer school is filling up quickly, so interested families should apply soon," Tate said in an email.
Farm and garden
The school, on 1.67 acres, has three classrooms — one per age group — along with outdoor playing areas, a theater, an outdoor gathering space and a yet-to-be completed courtyard, according to the website.
A family hall accommodates large gatherings. Plans for after-school enrichment programs open to students from preschool to the eighth-grade may include classes in art, science, movement and gardening classes, Tate said.
The campus includes an organic vegetable garden and a farm-like area for small animals, both elements intended to inculcate in children "a lifetime love of nature," Tate said. "We believe strongly that a connection to the outdoors, plants, and animals is key to health and happiness, provides a rich learning experience for all children and their families, and will help develop future stewards of our planet."
The school probably opened for the first time in 1957 as the Windmill Day Nursery School, according to an online history of the school by Portola Valley Town Historian Nancy Lund.
Its first location, near the old windmill at Georgia Lane on Portola Road, had been a brewery in the 1870s, Lund said. The house was so small that much of the curriculum took place outside, including walking around in the nearby orchard, exploring the creek, gathering hens' eggs and watching sheep being sheared, Lund said.
The school's next home, a small building on the grounds of the Alpine Hills Swim and Tennis Club, had its own history. It was once home to a saloon, Lund said, adding that the Mangini family eventually converted the site to a picnic park. (Ed Jelich, who grew up on nearby Jelich Ranch, once told The Almanac that the park drew social clubs from around the Bay Area that came on Sundays to flirt, eat, dance and fight.)
The school's latest home was once home to bootlegger, then a plant nursery and nearly became the site of eight small below-market-rate homes as part of an effort by the Town Council to build affordable housing.
The council allowed a contract to expire after learning that county officials found that a cleanup of soil at the site had been inadequate. Windmill stepped in and bought the site in May 2015.
The school's core principles include a welcome to volunteers, and spaces meant to be a "warm and welcoming environment that is flexible and adaptive to the interests of our community."
With due attention paid to the school's conditional use permit and to town regulations, that community includes individuals and groups in surrounding localities, including Ladera, Los Trancos Woods and Woodside, the website says.
"These spaces will be made available either gratis or at the lowest reasonable cost possible with consideration given that we want to make space available rather than maximize revenue," the website says, adding that best efforts will be made to minimize paperwork and other use-related requirements.
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