Welcome to Gather: A Forest School Community

We offer school for children 4-12 from 8:30 -12:30 + monthly outdoor community events

Our Mission

The mission of Gather is to guide children on how to love and care for themselves, the community, and the environment. This is at the center of Gather. As a school and community, we can do this through literacy, civic engagement, sustainability, and recognizing and amplifying the histories and accomplishments of the global majority (Black, Indigenous, and people of color- BIPOC). These are the foundations to cultivate not only an interested learner but a human who can also see himself or herself as a part of a much larger whole. In our natural learning environments, our students deepen their understanding of the interconnectedness between the environment and humanity and how our collected actions affect the world. 

Ashley (@afrocentric.montessori) + Shelby (@shalompolepole) 

What is Gather?

Gather Forest School and Community creates and facilitates child-centered, nature-based educational experiences rooted in Black culture and identity for Black families. We use the educational philosophies of Montessori & Waldorf to provide children 4-12 hands-on, nature-based education that fosters creativity and curiosity while learning 80-100% outdoors.

Our school portion operates Monday - Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. We are a drop-off program for children 4-12 years old located in Decatur, Georgia.

Our community portion provides monthly events in nature around the Atlanta area for adults and children of all ages. 

In addition to our in-person offerings, we also provide a virtual community for those who are looking to engage and meet up with other Black families in all things nature, sustainability, homeschooling, camping, and more!  

Our Why

We aim to give progressive and supportive instruction to Black families because few models fit our vision due to America's educational systems and structures that promote anti-Blackness, the over-policing of black children, the school-to-prison pipeline, and white exclusivity. 

For centuries, black people have been agricultural geniuses who have worked hard to cultivate and preserve the land throughout the globe. Yet, they are left out of the environmental and conservation movement and conversation targeted, killed, stereotyped, and threatened while enjoying nature examples of this include the Chicago race riots of 1919 and Christian Cooper intentionally placed within communities with higher air pollution, food deserts, and lack of green space due to economic segregation, ecological apartheid, environmental racism, and redlining. 

We do what we do because we are about Black futures. We believe in planting seeds within Black children to be the leaders of tomorrow within the environmental justice movement.

A little peek of our learning week...

We are a multi-age program. We guide children from 4-10 years old. This means that we provided modified and differentiated lessons and activities for each student's needs, interests, program days, and daily flow. 

  • Zoology - cold-blooded animals (general overview, habitats and adaptions, reptiles, amphibians, fish) 
  • Horticulture & Botany - Soil (soil and the environment, soil components, soil layers, soil properties, and nutrients)
  • Biology - 8 years and older students  - ecosystems (movement of matter among producers, consumers, decomposers, and the air, water, and soil in the environment).
  • Art Education - Warm + Cool Colors, mediums: watercolor and crayons
  • Author Spotlight - Ashley Bryan 
  • Handiwork - Sewing (simple stitch) 
  • Cultural Study - Caregiving--Focus question: Who are the caregivers in your family?
  • Math - light number sense work and fractions (what's half, thirds, equal parts, counting by 2s + 5s, odd, even, etc.); 8 years and older students decimals & fractions 
  • Language Arts - independent reading (small group: consonants and short vowel sounds, diagraphs, and vowels); 8 years and older- literature comprehension - understanding explicit and implied ideas (using our author's study/spotlight 

The Founders

Ashley Causey-Golden, co-founder of Gather Forest School and creator of Afrocentric Montessori. Ashley has been teaching children since she was 18 years old. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary and Special Education from Winthrop University and a master's from Columbia University in Sociology and Education Policy. She has been a lead teacher in traditional learning spaces (public and charter), progressive learning spaces (Reggio Emilia and Montessori), and African-centered learning environments during her 14 years of teaching early childhood.

Shelby Stone-Steel, co-founder of Gather Forest School and the founder of Shalom Polepole, a blog focused on nature, slow living, environmentalism, and environmental justice. Shelby has been in public, charter, private, forest, and homeschooling programs for the last 15 years. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature/Journalism and International Studies from Miami University and a master's degree in English Education from Pace University.

Thanks and Gratitude

In 2023, Gather's virtual community is a free year membership. The intention of this platform is to create space for parents, educators, family members, and children to enjoy, share, grow, and learn with one another. We look forward to meeting you all in person or virtually! 


Just click "join" and you're in!

In community!

Ashley (@afrocentric.montessori) + Shelby (@shalompolepole)