Lyndsy Blais at Wildflowers Studio
When Vermont businesses closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 in March, Lyndsy Blais quickly realized there was no path forward for Wildflowers Studio, the creative maker space in Essex she started in 2015.
On April 28, she announced
that she was closing Wildflowers permanently.
"It was a heartbreaking decision," said Blais, but also a "clear-cut" one. Wildflowers offered a wide range of programming including open studio hours, an art- and nature-based preschool program, home-school and after-school classes, and camps.
"The business was so based on community connection, and if parents or caregivers are not able to come there and connect with each other, I just looked forward and said, 'There's no way that this business model can continue for a very
long time,'" said Blais.
Courtesy of Teresa Davis
Davis Studio founder Teresa Davis
Blais focused her energy on homeschooling her four daughters, ages 6, 8, 10 and 13. Then Teresa Davis, founder of the Davis Studio
in South Burlington, reached out. The two entrepreneurs had developed a friendship over the last few years and share similar educational philosophies, rooted in play-based, exploratory learning.
"You can't just disappear," Blais remembered Davis telling her. "And I was like, "I don't want to.
Courtesy of Lyndsy Blais
Wildflowers Studio founder Lyndsy Blais
After a series of conversations, Davis hired Blais as assistant director of the Davis Studio. Starting in the fall, Blais will also serve as a classroom teacher for the new multi-age kindergarten and first grade classroom at Davis Community School. "It means that the whole heart and soul of Wildflowers gets kept alive," said Davis, "and that's actually very important to me."
Davis Community School, started in January 2019, is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, which embraces self-directed learning and a curriculum centered around children's interests. Academics are integrated with the arts, and outdoor education and foreign language instruction are also emphasized. In 2019-2020, the school had one mixed-age classroom with students in grades 1, 2 and 3. It will add kindergarten and fourth grade next year.
The Davis Studio also offers a preschool program, afterschool classes and camps. Its Starving Artist Café, which offered weekday breakfast and lunch and weekend brunch, is permanently closed.
This summer, Davis and Blais will also collaborate to develop an art- and academic-based online homeschool curriculum in anticipation that some families will want a remote learning option this fall. "We think there will be people leaning into homeschooling, but who need more support and not wanting to just have their kid in the computer all day," said Davis. "I think if we can, from the get-go, design something that has a lot of joy and play and discovery and hands-on projects... I think there's a lot of potential there."
A series of Zoom informational meetings about Davis Community School will be held starting in June. For additional information, call 425-2700 or visit davisstudiovt.com.