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Silverwood teachers have hearts of gold

Teachers Peggy Iversen, at left, and Pattie Sleasman have been the impetus behind the success of Silverwood School which is celebrating it 15th year. The school’s current location is at 14000 Central Valley Road N.W. - Photo by Jese Beals
Teachers Peggy Iversen, at left, and Pattie Sleasman have been the impetus behind the success of Silverwood School which is celebrating it 15th year. The school’s current location is at 14000 Central Valley Road N.W.
— image credit: Photo by Jese Beals

Children at the Silverwood School tear fabric to thread through a loom, thrust shovels into the dirt and make clay masks.

From lessons such as molding the clay, weaving a tapestry or tending a garden, the children learn to value themselves and their education.

For the past 15 years, Silverwoood teachers and co-founders Patty Sleasman and Peggy Iversen have shaped a generation of children by encouraging strengths and nurturing weaknesses.

“It taught them individual study skills and a love for learning ... it’s been a positive experience all around,” said Linda Robinson, mother of three Silverwood alumni. Her children now 24, 21 and a junior in high school achieved academic and personal success because of their Silverwood roots.

Patty and Peggy are both such positive and caring individuals,” Robinson said.

Sleasman and Iversen will be honored 1-3 p.m Saturday, Nov. 8, at an open house at the school located at 14000 Central Valley. The events include tours of the campus buildings and learning sites, a slide show retrospective, and presentation of memory books to the two teachers.

A gala banquet at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel Starlight Dome will follow, beginning at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. and program at 8 p.m.

The school began in 1984 and was modeled after The Farm Montessori’s Preschool and Kindergarten. Both Sleasman’s and Iversen’s children attended the school its first year.

The school, now known as Silverwood School was incorporated in 1988. It has moved twice, and is currently located on 18 forested acres. It serves 90 students in grades one through six and has a broad curriculum of integrated studies and inquiry-based learning, and nationally-recognized programs.

“The dedication of these two exceptional teachers was a compelling reason for me to become head of school at Silverwood,” said Jamie Estill, the de facto headmaster.

“Their love of kids and teaching sets a tone for the whole community. Learning should be fun and so should school. That’s what they believe and it shows throughout our program.”

The Farm served as the seedbed for Silverwood in 1984, known at first as Clear Creek Montessori. The school moved from The Farm to leased facilities on Dickey Road in 1986 and became “Silverwood.”

Jane VanBucken has been teaching at the school for 15 years and describes Sleasman and Iversen as “extremely warm-hearted and I was thinking of a word that’s not dedicated, because it’s way beyond that.

“They are so committed to their vision of what a school should be like for children and that means all their focus is on helping these kids develop skills to be lifelong learners,” Van Bucken said.

Sleasman and Iversen met at a walk-about class at Olympic College, each with a toddler in tow. They wanted to offer an education that was personal for the children.

As the school grew, the limitations of the Dickey Road Building became apparent.

The school purchased five acres of Ben Kimball’s land with proceeds from a capital campaign in 1997-98. The barn was renovated into a primary classroom, and the portable classroom was moved from Dickey Road for the intermediate grades.

In 2000, the school purchased the remaining 13 acres of the original property. This addition provided a physical and visual buffer for the school and added woods, a pond, a stream and a meadow — enhancing the school’s outdoor laboratory and play space.

“More than the education, was the feeling. (My children) just realized they were valuable little people in this world and they were going to do their best to fulfill that,” Robinson said.

Enrollment remains strong and at capacity. The school has recently added a new building for additional teaching space that will open in November.

As for “P&P” day they are a bit surprised by all of the attention.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Sleasman said.

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