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Nurture with nature

These days, the little rainbow-shaped house on Rainbow Ridge Road is a lot quieter than it used to be when it was a preschool attended by dozens of local kids whose parents preferred a nature-based education.

Gloria Kershner, the gentle, polite woman who ran Rainbow Ridge Preschool from 1977 to 1991, invited her former students, friends and family to gather all day Saturday at her home in the woods near Empire Mine and remember the days when her home was full of the sounds of laughter and activity.

The celebration also commemorated Kershner’s 80th birthday, which fell on April 22.



“Being back here is so special,” said Jaime Lefcovich, 22, who attended the school from 1986-1988. “I feel like (the school) formed all my memories of my childhood. It looks the same, but a lot smaller than it did back then.”

She described Kershner as warm, kind and special lady who taught her the importance of nature and the power of kindness.




“Have some rainbow juice,” Kershner’s son, Tad, said when guests entered the bright, wooden dome structure Saturday, handing them a cold glass of tangy red juice with hints of grapefruit.

The ingredients are a secret, Kershner said, and only the kids who used to make it – along with rainbow cookies – are the keepers of the recipe.

Kershner sat in her sunlit kitchen and enjoyed the party along with her sister and brother-in-law, who drove all the way from New York state to be there.

“I miss the kids,” Kershner said.

A handful of her friends and former students reminisced about the old days at the school, looking through old pictures of kids swimming in the Yuba River, skipping around a May pole, hiking, doing arts and crafts and riding tricycles.

“Working moms liked it because we did the things they would have done if they didn’t have to work,” Kershner said. “Hiking, field trips, arts and crafts, playing with clay.”

One of Kershner’s self-proclaimed goals as an educator was to “go forth into the light of day, let Nature be your teacher,” according to a letter to The Union she wrote in 2003 supporting preservation of rural areas.

Several cards from former students hung in her kitchen Saturday, displaying their thanks for Kershner’s influence.

“Thank you,” wrote Melinda Hogue, the mother of one of Kershner’s students who now attends California State University, Chico. “You’ve had a great impact on our lives.”

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To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@ theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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