School administrator Mary Ann Heerschap meets with prospective students at the Rockingham County Fair.

Erdkinder is a German word made up by Maria Montessori to describe her vision of a farm “school” for 12-15 year olds.  “Kinder,” the first part of kindergarten, means children while “Erd” means earth or land, in other words, a school for “children of the soil.”

Children at this age are undergoing tremendous growth and need a healthy diet and environment in which to grow. They are blossoming socially and desire to be more economically independent. The vision of the program is much like a Boys Town, Scouting, or Williamsburg experience for youth.

Young people are expected to practically solve problems on the farm such as constructing a chicken coop (geometry), taking soil samples (earth science), raising produce and caring for animals (biology), writing a business plan and selling items at the Farmer’s Market (composition, economics), governing themselves by establishing their own rules (government), and studying the cultures of the world to understand the evolving community from a land-based one (history, literature, religion, art, music, drama). They will still be expected to meet established standards of learning for their grade level.

Developmentally, young adults ages 12-15 need a social environment, desire to become more independent by earning money, care deeply about social issues, seek self-governance. The program is based on this psychological make-up of the adolescent.

School Name

Many schools are named for famous people, and Christ the King was named for the most famous king who ever lived. He said He was God. A Roman soldier acknowledged that this man was truly the Son of God. Jewish historian Josephus, who lived about the same time, said he was more than a man. Many quote the wisdom of His words. A church was founded based on His teachings. Jesus the Christ looked at everyone with great dignity and respect and taught us how to live. He told us about a kingdom not of this world that He wished us to be a part of. This Jesus demonstrated peace in the midst of suffering because he knew the end of the story: everlasting joy. He calls all people to be a part of His worldwide family, introduces us to His Father and Mother, and the love of the Spirit shared between them. This program welcomes all who have a faith story to tell or no faith at all. We seek peace through understanding and acknowledge the existence of Truth that is absolute and all encompassing.

The curriculum is Catholic in content, teaching the dignity of all children of God and the respect due them, yet seeking Christian unity in response to Christ’s prayer: “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was You who sent me. I have given them the glory You gave to Me, that they may be one as we re one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.” (John 17:21-23) The journey is a difficult one as we are not perfect, yet we must go forth with Christ’s blessing on all we undertake, believing we will all be changed by the victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ!


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