Over 40 years ago in Northern California, a young teacher named, Michael Nitai Deranja, saw a pressing need for a new approach to childhood education. Nitai was inspired to bring into practice the concepts of spiritual education as described by the yoga master, Paramhansa Yogananda. In 1972, the first Living Wisdom School was born (then called Ananda How-to-live School). That first year Nitai had six students, ages four to eight. The school grew gradually and by 1986 had sixty-five students in preschool through eighth grades.
Week-long Parent/Teacher Training Seminars were launched in the summer of 1976. In 1979, Nitai finished The Art of Joyful Education, the first printed description of the Ananda Schools.
Education for Life, the book which defines the model for the Living Wisdom Schools, was published in 1986 by J. Donald Walters (Swami Kriyananda). Kriyananda emphasized that the principles described in the book are non-sectarian and could be broadly applied.
Portland’s Living Wisdom School was started in 1997 because of a family wanting an Education for Life school for their children. Susan Usha Dermond and Karen Bharati Busch, long-term educators and advocates of conscious education, founded the school in its current location with 7 students and the support of the Ananda Church. Ms. Dermond is also the author of Calm and Compassionate Children.
LWS is part of a greater network of schools that are based on Education for Life (EFL). There are currently six EFL schools worldwide that share a common thread but are unique in their expression based on the children and families that they serve.