On November 23, staff and students concluded their school day with a playground dedication in the name of Nigel Harrison (1967-2019), a beloved faculty member of the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School for close to 20 years.

Nigel Harrison passed away in February 2019. A tireless and generous supporter of the school, Nigel served as a Trustee for many years, was a founding member of the College of Teachers, and served on numerous committees.

Nigel met his wife, Marleen DeGrande, during Waldorf training at Emerson College, East Sussex, England. Ms. DeGrande was one of HVWS’ first teachers, and still works at the school today. Over the years, Nigel and Marleen have been generous benefactors to HVWS.

When HVWS leadership planned for reopening campus after the worldwide campus closures in the Spring of 2020, they focused on investing in outdoor spaces, knowing that students needed to both be together and experience the healing power of nature throughout their day. That is when the playground plans, which were already in motion, came to fruition thanks Marleen DeGrande’s generous contribution in honor of Nigel. It made perfect sense to devote this donation to the playground as Nigel was committed to giving children the opportunity for healthy and therapeutic movement and to be outdoors as much as possible.

Now HVWS students delight every day in playing on new swings, a climbing structure, a tower and slide, horizontal climbing bars, and spinners. It seems most appropriate in the season of thanks to express our gratitude for the gift of the new playground and the gift our friend and colleague, Nigel Harrison. A memorial plaque will be installed on the playground.