Kathy O’Reilly Memorial Garden Renovations Continue
With sunshine and warmer temperatures on the horizon, we are scheduling our last few work days to complete the renovation of the Kathy O’Reilly Memorial Garden! Get Involved!
Kathy O’Reilly served MSH for over 23 years as a lead teacher, board member, and the head of school. She is fondly remembered for her generosity of spirit, delight in working with children, and abiding compassion for those in need. The Kathy O’Reilly Memorial Scholarship Fund, dedicated in her honor, provides the opportunity for children from families with limited resources to receive a Montessori education.
In 2010, a memorial garden was installed in front of our Huntsville campus. The garden consisted of several rose bushes surrounding a single crepe myrtle. While it was a beautiful feature on our campus, members of our school community wanted to re-design the garden so that children could participate in caring for the garden and apply Montessori principles of sensory exploration, practical life, and building inner peace.
In 2017, we consulted with Kathy’s daughter, Rachel, to discuss a new vision for the garden. Architect and designer John Vons, Master Gardener Nareatha Studdard, and Renaissance Man Thomas Grey joined the team, working with Rachel to design a space that honored the qualities that brought so much joy to children and families at our school for over two decades.
Kathy was deeply passionate about peace education and sharing her love of cooking with children. With this in mind, the memorial garden took the shape of a beautiful mound covered in sempervivum succulents. The mound will rise nearly three feet in the center, with a river rock path cutting through to a sitting area with a meditation bench and windchimes. Fragrant herbs will be planted around the garden for use in flower arranging, sensory activities, and cooking lessons.
We are thankful to the Jane R. Parks Foundation, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Cawaco RC&D, Home Depot, Terrell Blue, Leela Pahl and Tyler Brown for granting funds and in-kind donations to support this project and for countless volunteers who have spent their afternoons and weekends in service to our vision.