Once upon a time...
In the center of a village, down a winding path, there stood a school. This was no ordinary school. This was a place where wonder, dreams and imagination were embraced. Where children could dive deeper into areas that interested them. Where classes such as cooking, art and fitness were center stage rather than tossed to the side. The children spent ample time in the fresh air with the grass beneath their feet. Altogether they felt both at peace and excited to learn. After all, they had arrived not through crowded hallways but by way of a quiet walk in the woods. The families adored this place because it allowed them opportunities to enrich their child's education. Rather than driving all over town, pursuing an overwhelming amount of activities, they found it all in one place. Finally their children could dabble in watercolor, practice mindfulness in yoga, and learn about healthy eating without crisscrossing the metro.
Sound too good to be true?
Our Village School was born out of this fairytale and strives to make it a reality. We are redefining "school" as we create a fresh space to inspire a generation of lifelong learners. Our program encourages exploration in areas that are relevant, fun, and foster a love of learning. All while providing ample time outdoors in a beautiful natural setting.
We strive to provide a place where the traditional model and homeschool model can coexist in harmony. Homeschool at your own pace in core subjects, enjoying the freedom and personalization of that model. Then come visit Our Village School two days a week for community, socialization and a deeper dive into the finer things of life. Finally a balanced model with the best of both worlds.
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Meet Our Guides!
Our talented guides are the heart of Our Village School. They are the best of the best in our community - the Village Experts. This is a dedicated team of individuals passionate about helping to raise up a generation of lifelong learners.
Our Village School is the fairytale I've been dreaming about for years. Holding my Master's degree in teaching, I adored my time in the classroom until it was time to step away and raise up my own tribe of Littles. However, after sending my eldest to school, I found myself longing for a fresh approach to education. One that embraced the wonder of childhood and existed to cater to the individual learner—all while providing ample time outdoors. With the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, I stumbled into the fresh approach I'd been craving—homeschooling. Identifying with the fears of isolation and inadequacy when it comes to schooling at home, I set out to finally bring that fairytale to life.
Shannon has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology. She has extensive experience working with children at daycares, as a nanny, and working with children with Autism, Aspergers, and Special Needs. She enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children outdoors playing sports, hiking, camping, and swimming at the beach. At home she enjoys listening to scientific podcasts, learning about holistic remedies, gardening, home projects, candle making, bread making, and a variety of crafts. She looks forward to her first year at OVS and connecting with her Wednesday students!
Rita Ryan is a local artist who has showcased her pieces locally at the Lakeville Area Performing Arts Center. She is also a retired Lakeville teacher and most importantly a grandmother. Her passion is helping children unleash their creative spirit through art. She has a knack for developing and coaching budding artists to help them discover and refine their unique artistic abilities.
Nick has a Bachelor's in Economics from the University of Minnesota and has a variety of working experience from quality assurance to metal fabrication. He enjoys all board games - from Sequence to Dungeons & Dragons! Most of his time is spent at his hobby farm in Southern MN caring for goats & chickens, testing out his gardening skills, and building useful things.
Jennifer is a Board-Certified Music Therapist & owner of Musical Safari. She has worked as a Music Therapist in a variety of settings such as Fraser School, ISD #196, The Wilder Foundation and numerous preschools, senior facilities and day programs in the south metro. She also teaches piano lessons. Jennifer lives in Apple Valley with her husband Brian and her two children. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, going to movies and spending time with family and friends!
Claire graduated from Wartburg College in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. Claire is from Rosemount, Minnesota and lives with her mom, Kay, brother, Grant, and their little dog named Desi. Claire enjoys singing, playing various instruments, and traveling around the world!
As a former product designer and middle school teacher, Lanny has a passion for creating and leading. He has a broad knowledge of design, tools and materials after owning and operating a manufacturing company for 30 years. Lanny's approach is to encourage our students by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to design and make things with their own two hands. Now, semi-retired, he lives with his wife in Prior Lake.
Laura has a Masters degree in Social Work, and has experience working with children and families in a variety of settings, most recently as a School Social Worker. Laura recently began homeschooling her children, two of which attend Our Village School! She enjoys family time including baking, exploring nature, playing games, traveling, & adventuring together!
Brian has been a business owner for over 20 years and currently coaches and consults small business owners. Brian’s businesses have spanned industries including restaurants, retail, health and wellness, and real estate. Brian is passionate about helping young people find and create possibilities and opportunities to live a life of their own design. Originally from Wisconsin, Brian earned a degree in Finance from the University of Arizona. He then learned how to wear all the hats in a business when he opened his own golf store in Florida at the age of 23. He believes deeply in forging your own path by trusting your intuition. Brian and his wife Heidi have twin girls, Alida and Lucie, and reside in Lakeville. He enjoys Crossfit, golf, skiing, writing, and home improvement projects.
Gina has been a professional photographer in the Twin Cities since 2008. Each year she photographs hundreds of families in all life stages from engagements to weddings and newborns to extended families. Gina has a heart for mentoring up and coming photographers. She was born and raised in the Twin Cities where she currently lives with her husband, Matt, homeschools her son and spoils her pup, Mya.
Our village school is amazing! My child loved every class and looked forward to going here each week. I would HIGHLY recommend OVS to anyone. Maria and her whole team are absolutely amazing and truly care about each and every kid. I am so grateful for the experiences my child gained here! -Laura Carlson
I cannot say enough positive things about The Village School! Maria has created an incredible community and our kiddo enjoyed every class. The rain, cold and heat didn’t stop him from wanting to go each day. So grateful for the opportunity for kids to engage in classes outside and subjects that are fun and different. Maria was wonderful and we couldn’t ask for a better teacher and leader for these kids to be with! Highly recommend! -Emily Tomes
Our Village School is the perfect complement to homeschooling, providing excellent socialization and learning opportunities in the best classroom ever- nature! The best guides and lead teachers love the children and treat them as their own. This is truly a community that is creating the most inspired, independent learners possible. They are learning grit and respect for nature in the outdoor classrooms. I love also that it’s mixed ages, as research suggests mixed age classrooms provide better learning opportunities for all ages. The founder Maria has put together something unique and special. We are so lucky to be a part of it! -Sarah Lang
“I’m constantly in awe of what an incredible place this is! The founder, Maria, continues to amaze and inspire my whole family. She has created such a beautiful outdoor “classroom” environment where children of all ages can play and learn by exploring in nature.
After each and every class, my son lights up with excitement as he talks about what he did that day. I’m so grateful we found Our Village School and highly recommend it!”
Our Village School is a must for any homeschooler! The variety of classes, hands-on environment, and top-notch instruction are a perfect compliment to your homeschool/unschool day. Having Our Village School helps me focus on other topics more individual to my child’s needs, such as language arts and math. I highly recommend Our Village School as part of your homeschooling instruction!
We LOVED the OVS experience! It’s the homeschool family’s dream program. My child was greeted by name at the car each day then went off to 4 super fun, educational classes. OVS can become more than a school if you participate - there are additional programs, book clubs, and field trips. You can build a little homeschool community here. This is the school that most parents dream of for their young child, and I’m so glad we were able to participate. -Emily Barstad
“Beautiful setting, and a fun and laid back way for homeschool kids to get some great experiences!”