Charlotte Mason's (1842-1923) method first came to the attention of Rodney Nelson, RiverTree's founder, when his wife, Marybeth, insisted that he read For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. This book sparked an "a-ha!" moment for the Nelsons because they realized that it articulated the educational philosophy they had been searching for.
It soon became clear to the Nelsons that the only way for them to give to their children this kind of education was to do it themselves. However, since both felt that they were called to the educational mission of Christian schools, home-schooling their own children was, for them, only a temporary option. They decided, after prayer and consultation with friends, that what they needed to do was start a Charlotte Mason school. Thus, RiverTree School was born.
A few months later, Mr. Nelson was delighted to discover that there was an organization already in existence dedicated to developing schools committed to Charlotte Mason's method. Ambleside Schools International is a small but growing network of schools that provides curriculum, consulting, and training to schools like RiverTree. RiverTree joined Ambleside in the spring of 2008.
The Nelsons reside in Maple Grove, MN with their five children. Mrs. Nelson is an experienced teacher. She has made a study of the Charlotte Mason method and serves as an advisor and mentor to many parents in both education and parenting. Mr. Nelson is an experienced school administrator with degrees in Bible (BA) and Theology (MA) from Wheaton College. He is currently working on completing his doctorate in educational administration at Bethel University.
The Nelsons are active members of Church of the Cross in Hopkins, MN.