In January 1993 local teacher Sally Davison decided to start a new school in the garage of her home.
‘We put an ad in The Echo for expressions of interest and called a meeting at our house, thinking we might get half a dozen people,’ Ms Davison recalls.
‘That night 60 people arrived. We were packed into the dining room. There were people out the windows.’
A quarter of a century later that little gathering has grown into the vibrant, bustling Shearwater Steiner School in Mullumbimby which has close to 700 students from Preschool to Year 12, a trade skills centre and biodynamic farm as part of a 52 acre campus next to Mullumbimby Creek.
This Saturday (September 1) the school will celebrate its 25th birthday at its annual Spring Fair.
The fair will feature live music and entertainment all day, food stalls, and crafts and activities such as candle making, pony and unicorn rides, sideshow alley, spring garland weaving, and the eve-popular Spring Fair Busking Competition.
The event will be a chance to raise funds and celebrate how far the school has come since the early days.
After one year the school quickly outgrew Ms Davison’s garage and moved to its current site but still had little more than a large shed to house the primary school.
‘The walls just shifted every year,’ said Gerard Braithwaite, one of the school’s early teachers.
‘You had to build the room before you could begin. But everybody pitched in,’ Mr Braithwaite says
Teacher Dhyana Gillard remembers the ‘mad courage’ of all involved in the massive task of growing a school.
‘It was always really hard work but you felt like it was worth it. There was a deep sense of satisfaction, a deep nurturing and the constant learning that the children put you through. As much as you gave, you were also receiving,’ Ms Gillard says.