About the Director:
Sow Well Tots provides high-quality care in a safe, nurturing environment with a child-driven rhythm. This means we will never interrupt the natural imaginative flow in order to force our own agenda. We tailor our daily routine to fit the developmental needs of all the children. We believe a well-nurtured child will be better able to thrive as a student when the time for structured learning presents itself. The SWT home-based program offers a holistic rhythm with a nurturing, seasonal curriculum that includes daily outdoor play in the forest and garden, handwork and crafts, songs, finger plays, stories, and puppetry.
Bessie Jones is an Afro-Indigenous mom who is passionate about early childhood education. She integrates multiple approaches for supporting and nurturing the young child, with a primary focus on Rudolf Steiner and Emmi Pikler’s philosophies. Sow Well Tots is designed to create an environment that supports the small child in slow integration and self-initiated development while embracing the cultural wholeness of all children.
Bessie brings an extensive background to her work as an Early Childhood educator. As a longtime participant in wellness care for mothers, children, and their families she has 20 years of work experience nurturing and helping parents and children. She holds a MA EEC license and August 2017 completed the Child Development Associate® (CDA) National Credentialing Program. She continues to enhance her practice through training and research at Sophia’s Hearth Waldorf Family Center. Bessie knows the importance of nature exploration for healthy sensory development and served on the Vermont Wilderness School board from 2015-2016 and continues to work closely with the organization. In March 2017 she attended the Reaching Nature Connection Conference held by The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers and the School of Integrated Learning at the Earth Haven Eco-Village in North Carolina.
Bessie has been working intensely with children and parents in a number of varied capacities since 1994 when she began her service as a volunteer for six years at Hannah House, a transitional shelter for moms parenting while homeless or in recovery located in Washington, DC.
In 2000 Bessie became interested in yoga and meditation and enrolled in the 9-month Spiritual Life Program at Kripalu Yoga Center in Stockbridge, MA. In 2003 she completed her first 10-day sit at the Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne Falls, MA, where she and her own children still participate in an annual sit regularly. In 2004 and 2005 Bessie had her daughter and son. In 2007 she was trained and certified in the Radiant Child Yoga Program by the founder, Shakta Kaur. The following years she taught kids’ yoga, and a teen moms postpartum yoga class at Yoga Sanctuary in Northampton, MA.
In 2007 Bessie became highly involved in the support of mothers. She founded and co-directed MOCAI (Mothers of Color Awareness Initiative), a local, grassroots organization dedicated to mothers of color. MOCAI was partnered with MotherWoman, a local non-profit. During this time Bessie co-facilitated both a women’s circle for mothers of color in Leverett, MA at the Quaker Meeting House and MotherWoman groups in Northampton and Greenfield. She also facilitated an arts and crafts mingle for trans-racial families at the Forbes Library in Northampton for four years. For all of her work supporting families, Bessie was awarded the 2009 Ripple Effect Award by the Women’s Fund of Western Mass.
In 2011 she opened Sow Well Tots, a home-based Early Childhood Program in Greenfield, MA. She was director and lead teacher for four years. In 2015 SWT took a 2-year hiatus during which Bessie continued to develop her Waldorf and Emmi Pikler philosophy as a lead teacher at the Garland School in Brattleboro, VT, a developing Waldorf school.
Read more about Sow Well Tots at: Valley Kids Oct-Nov 2018 Feature article