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Teacher Profile: Reta Sorge, Nursery 3s

Having worked in almost every classroom over the course of more than two decades, Reta Sorge is just about as High Meadow as they come.

In 2000, Reta Sorge was a single parent with a below-the-poverty-line income working in mental health. As she looked ahead to school for her young child, she was drawn to High Meadow.

“I didn’t know the school well,” she says, “but I knew I didn’t want to send my child to public school because it wasn't going to give them enough outdoor time. I ended up getting a job here as a cleaner the year before they entered kindergarten.”

At first, Reta kept her day job, cleaning at High Meadow after hours as a means to afford tuition, until “not very far in, I fell in love with the place and moved my entire operation over here.”

Since then, she’s spent 20 years assisting in almost every classroom at school, including a long stretch of years paired with lead teacher Jackie Katzen in 4th grade. She has also married, had two more children, and watched all three of them graduate from High Meadow. Reta has worked with four Heads of School, each different from the other. “I’ve enjoyed all of them,” she says.

“The through-line for me, and the thing that keeps me interested, is the value of play and outdoor education. I think we can hold onto that as much as possible and it will not disadvantage our kids in the academic marketplace at all,” Reta affirms, even as they reach middle school. She also names “a focus on being kind to each other as an expressed value” as one of the things at the heart of High Meadow. “It sounds very basic, but it’s actually good, important work.”

This year, Reta is the Assistant Teacher in one of our two Nursery 3s classrooms, the Nuthatches. “Just now, we’ve introduced the Nuthatches to Andy Goldsworthy,” she delights, having explored Goldsworthy’s nature-based art across grade levels during her time at High Meadow. “The precision and commitment he uses to make natural material into something wondrous is awe inspiring to me,” she says, her enthusiasm infectious.

When Reta imagines High Meadow’s future, she hopes that increased financial stability can allow the school “to entertain more economic diversity, as well as cultural diversity. That would be something really marvelous. I’m not sure the door I walked in through here is still really open in the same way.” Indeed, cost-of-living in the mid-Hudson Valley has increased dramatically in recent years, sending shocks through our school and wider communities. “I know we really try,” Reta adds, “and the economics of running a private school are very challenging. Any affluence that comes our way? I’d love to see it pointed in that direction.”


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