Here is a bit of history on the rich legacy of Shari Robinson, the former director and a teacher at Meridian Hills Co-op to whom we dedicated our Reimagined Playground last September.
Shari was a three decades icon in the cooperative movement in Indianapolis. As a young mother of four children, she taught first in the late 60s at Willowcreek Cooperative (now closed) and was recruited to come to Meridian Hills by Dessie Partenheimer Koch, the founder and then director of our little school. Shari graduated from DePauw University with a degree in early childhood education and Dessie felt it was quite a coup to get her to teach at our school.
Shari taught two of the four MH classes, the Chickadees (3s) and the Redbirds (4s) for 25 years. After Dessie retired around 1980, Shari became the director, and for a few of the intervening years until she retired in 2000, she taught all four of the classes. (Then other class of 3s was called Robins and the other 4s class was Bluebirds.) Shari was very active with the Indiana Council of Preschool Cooperatives as an advisor and a CPT trainer. She wrote for Indy’s Child and co-taught a class in early childhood at Butler University with the now Dean of the College of Education at Butler University, Dr. Ena Shelley, who was a former parent of hers. She traveled with Dr. Shelley to explore Reggio Emelia schools in Italy when that major early childhood movement came to the forefront, and brought that philosophy back to our little school.
Shari passed away in November of 2015, but no one who ever knew her will forget her giggle, her joy in children, her welcoming manner, her ever-present positive attitude, or her loving way. The cooperative movement in the city of Indianapolis would not have withstood the test of time without Shari’s leadership. The mirrors at the entryway landing are a lasting gift from her to reflect on the uniqueness of each of us, and they sparkle in her memory.
I simply would not be the parent or the person I am today without the influence of Shari Robinson. I did a lot of growing as a young parent and a teacher at Meridian Hills as did many of us, both children and adults, who “grew up” at her hand. We laughed, cried, fell and stood up, played, ran, solved problems, painted, built, cleaned, helped with a snack, solved more problems, climbed, created, experienced and were enriched at this school. All grown up are the hundreds of children who were lucky enough to have Shari as a teacher, and I am always proud when one returns as a parent of a second generation family.
At the Fall Picnic in September 2017, after a very successful fundraising campaign, we proudly dedicated our Reimagined Playgroundas a Nature Explore Classroom in her memory. The fresh cider from the cider press your family will enjoy this weekend at the Fall Picnic was the highlight of many fall field trips to Shari’s house and the press was given to Meridian Hills by husband Larry. Restored to mint condition for the Dedication, it belongs to our little school for another generation of children to enjoy.
The marker at the toe of the Welcome Willow Gate says:
Our REIMAGINED Playground is dedicated to MHCNS&K’s
beloved teacher and director, Shari Robinson.
Make sweet memories and take them with you when you leave.
Best in parenting,
Ginny Hacker, Director