History of Awakening Seed School
Awakening Seed started in Mary and Bill Glover’s garage in 1977. Originally called The New School, it was founded by Mary Glover and Anne Sager. The first year there were nine students, ages six months to five years. The school began with no money, Mary’s kids’ toys, a backyard swing set, and a vision of a school where children could be honored for who they are, diversity celebrated, and creativity encouraged. From the school’s inception, there was a strong emphasis on being a strong planetary citizen and a commitment to world peace. The school remains true to this original vision 30 years later.
After two years at the Glover home, the school became a licensed preschool with the Department of Health Services and moved to the Unitarian Church on River Drive in Tempe. The building was shared between the Unitarian Church, a Spanish speaking Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and the school. Every weekend all of the school equipment had to be locked away in cabinets so the classrooms could be used by the other two groups.
Kindergarten was added in 1979 and the name was changed to Awakening Seed after it was discovered that another school in central Arizona was also called The New School. The name Awakening Seed came from a dream Mary had in 1980 and it’s been a perfect name for the school. Each year another grade was added until the Seed reached 5th grade in 1984. The Seed had about 45 students by 1984, three teachers, and lots of helpers.
In 1982 the first Awakening Seed Parents’ Association (APA) was established and they organized their first annual Seed Halloween Carnival in October, which is still one of the biggest Seed traditions. During this era a real helicopter from one of the local TV stations landed in the Seed parking lot, there was allegedly a wild herd of cabbages in the quiet corner (according to one imaginative four-year-old), and a model volcano that erupted with such flair that it inspired volcanologists for decades to come.
In 1984 the Seed expanded to the Unity Church on McKemy Drive, also in Tempe, giving the school four classrooms. It was a shared space again, so the weekend routine of taking things off the walls and storing equipment continued. The playground was on an asphalt parking lot, and the kids ate lunch in the walkway between the church sanctuary and an adjacent building.
In the fall of 1984 the Seed experienced its worst case of head lice ever, starting on the first day of school and lasting till November, thus beginning the monthly lice checks. Later that year, the first holiday program was presented to parents, which began the long standing Seed tradition of celebrating the Winter Solstice. By the next December, the program grew so much that it had to be held at a local public school gym.
Although many good things happened at the McKemy location, including a huge fundraiser in the spring of 1985 to help raise money for starving children in Africa, the Seed was growing quickly and needed a bigger space.
During Spring Break of 1986, a week of pouring rain that didn’t let up, the Seed moved into its largest space ever, the first space that didn’t have to be shared with someone else. Located at 23rd and Industrial Parkway in Tempe, all of the art could be left on the walls, equipment could be left out, and the playground was able to be used in more expansive ways. Over the course of time, the asphalt parking lot was converted to a playground with sand, trees, a basketball court, climbing structures, and a small grassy area. The school grew to 140 students, from preschool through 5th grade.
In 1988 the Community Inter-generational Program was established, and Seed students participated in bi-weekly trips to Westchester Care Center to interact with nursing home residents. The program continues to the present time. During that era, the children and teachers painted beautiful wall murals in the hallways, a tradition that later was transferred to the playground walls.
At the 23rd Street location, the Seed had a multipurpose room, which was used for Monday all-school meetings, a native American ceremony, numerous kindergarten “museums,” and over a decade of stellar performances by the Mystery Theater Players at the Halloween Carnival. The Seed Summer program also began in the late 1980’s, featuring the first summer “Way-off Broadway” production of Peter and the Wolf.
With the school still growing, the Board of Directors established a building fund for a new facility. After searching two years in Tempe, Chandler, Ahwatukee, and southeast Phoenix for a new school property, a terrific piece of land became available at 40th Street in Vineyard in Phoenix. The price was right and through the help of many generous friends and family members, the Seed had its first very own piece of dirt, 4.3 acres of land near the base of South Mountain in 1998.
The Seed was accredited by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) for the first time in the summer of 1999, just before moving to the new facility in Phoenix.
Once the land was purchased, everything came together quickly, thanks to a few generous donors, much hard work by the Board of Directors, staff, and Bill Glover, the Business and Facilities Manager. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in the spring of 1999 and by August the new modular building, constructed by Modtech, was in place and ready for classes to begin.
The new campus opened up numerous opportunities for growth. For the first time, each classroom had high ceilings, large windows, skylights for natural lighting, and an outdoor area for each classroom. In no time at all, outdoor patios, sitting walls, gardens, a full-size basketball court, shade trees, and a pond sprung up. The playground with its rolling grassy hills allowed students to run, tumble, imagine, and explore opened up a myriad of new possibilities.
During the summer of 2000, the Seed enrolled its first second generation Seed. Additionally, in the coming years, several alumni Seeds joined the staff, either as full time staff members or as college students employed during the summer program. In 2000, during the second year in the new location on 4oth Street, the inaugural toddler program began. Although Mary vowed that she would never do diapers or hormones (adolescents) at the Seed, the diapers arrived. The toddler program, which was expanded to two classes in 2005, gave the Seed enrollment a big boost and added some wonderful new families to the school.
Among the highlights at the 40th Street location were, receiving a grant to participate in the Digging Deeper (gardening) Project, raising money to help victims of 9-11 in NYC and the tsunami in Malaysia, expanding the Halloween Carnival, building a pond, having Alice McLerran (author of Roxaboxen) visit the Seed to see the outdoor areas, painting murals on the playground walls, annual visits by Dr. Elsie Moore to talk about her role in the Civil Rights Movement, celebrating the Seed’s 25th anniversary in 2002, field trips to the Japanese Flower Gardens and South Mountain, adding yoga to the curriculum, all-school Earth Day celebrations, and holding the first Seed Scramble Golf Tournament in 2006.